What is one of the most devastating things you could do to the body? Not wearing a seatbelt, smoking, not flossing regularly, and weighing more than 300 pounds are all bad, but what if none of these apply to you? How about sitting for eight to twelve hours a day? Sit-osis is the new smoking and most people suffer from it. It’s an epidemic and is causing more people to reach that 300-pound milestone.
We wake up and then sit down to have breakfast. We sit driving to work, sit at work and on the drive home. And then we finish it off with sitting down for dinner and sitting for a couple of hours in front of the TV. Oh wait! We are also hunched over smart phones all day! Stress, weight gain, and disease then become the new normal.
One solution is to throw away all your worldly possessions, go meditate in a cave for nine years, and then emerge to show the world Kung-Fu. Or you can start by taking five minutes out of every thirty minutes to get back your health.
Let’s put your smartphone to good use. There are apps and timers that can be used as reminders to stop sitting. I like the Pomodoro app because that technique asks you to work in increments of twenty-five minutes, then rest for five minutes and repeat. For example, when working on a project that requires you to sit in front of the computer (let’s say writing an article for Asia Trend), you start working without any distractions for twenty-five minutes and then rest for five minutes when the timer goes of. This technique will not only improve your productivity, but if the 5-minute rest period is used as below, it will get you healthy. Working out two hours a day will not undo the problems that come from sitting eight to twelve hours a day.
What to do during the 5-minute break:
- First minute remember to breathe. Breathing is the most accurate and honest barometer of how we are doing. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for this first minute. Is your breathing rapid, uncontrolled, or without pause? This could mean you are stressed, anxious, fearful, upset or even angry. The mind follows breathing. So in order to control your mind you have to control your breath. Breathe in deep through your nose and exhale out through the mouth. Time your breath with a four second inhale and an eight second exhale. This will help drop the heart rate and let your body and mind relax. Remember that relaxation comes from exhalation.
- Second minute drink some water. How can you expect to be optimal if you aren’t drinking enough water throughout the day? Water transports things to and from all the cells of our bodies. It cleans the body by flushing important filtering organs like the kidneys and the liver that remove toxins from our bodies. Water is important during chemical reactions. It breaks down sugar when it is ingested. Water lubricates our lungs when we breathe, and the joints and digestive track need lubrication to function properly. There are more benefits, but you get the idea. Start by drinking a little water during the 5-minute break.
- Third minute stand up and move your joints. Check you posture right now. It doesn’t matter if you work out one hour every day. The amount of time spent in poor posture will always win. Think about putting on a tight t-shirt and then slouching. You will see all the material in the upper chest and shoulders bunch up. At the same time the back muscles get lax and stretch out. There is constant tension. The same thing happens to all the muscles in that area. They are trying to prevent your head from falling off. Is it a surprise when you complain of neck, shoulder or back pain? To fix your posture when you stand up, check out this video. Now that you are up, remember that the joints love circles. Take the rest of the third minute to complete two or three circles at each joint in each direction. Start at the neck, and work your way down to shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. Don’t forget those nice deep breaths.
- Fourth minute do one big movement to reverse the effect of sitting. We know there are major problems with sitting. There is the bad posture as mentioned, the hips are also constantly flexed and your butt is basically turned off. Your body will get rid of movements that are not used regularly. Sitting for ten-plus hours a day or one hour of exercise. What will your body adapt to more? There are a lot of options to get you back on track, but one of my favorites is the deep lunge with rotation. Check out this video for a demonstration. Perform one minute on each side.
- Fifth minute practice gratitude. If you ever feel frustrated or tense remember that emotion comes from motion. Just by smiling instead of frowning you will feel better. Be grateful for the fact that you were able to take a few breaths, drink some water, stand up and move around. Take the last minute to be thankful for all of the things you have.
So there you have it. Five ways to get your health back in five minutes. Remember that regardless of where you are in health, you have the ability to take control of it and head in the right direction.