Seven hours. That’s almost 30% of your twenty-four-hour day. It’s about 50% of the time you spend awake. It’s also the time you spend sitting in a desk at school! Even more time is spent sitting at your desk at home and doing homework (at least in my case). Add that up over a week, a month, and a year… and you realize just how much you end up sitting in your life.
Sorry to be dramatic and throw a bunch of math at you (since you probably already get enough of that at school or work), but it was necessary to show you how much you sit in your life. And while sitting is nice, too much of it is boring… and not good for you! You need to get your blood flowing by standing up, walking around, and stretching.
Here are seven tips that will help you become healthier at work or at school. Use them to sit less and become healthier and happier! Print out this graphic and use it as a reminder / checklist.
1. Take Stretch Breaks
If you’re going to incorporate just one of these tips into your routine, choose this one. It is SO important to stretch, as stretching gets your blood moving and wakes you up. According to chiropractic doctor Simon Floreani, “When muscles stay still the blood pools in the muscles, which makes you feel tired and sluggish.” So that’s why it’s hard to get up after sitting for a while, even if I’ve just been watching Netflix a.k.a. the least strenuous activity ever!
Some stretching is better than no stretching. Even if you have a super busy day, make sure to get in some stretch time, whether it’s by doing tree pose while waiting in line for your lunch, doing walking lunges in the hallway while on a trip to the bathroom, or even by crossing your legs and doing “seated pigeon” while sitting at your desk.
I often try to incorporate unnoticeable stretches during class so I can get rid of all my excess energy (probably from all the earthy, energy-rich foods I eat!).
My favorite “incognito” stretches:
- Seated pigeon– cross your right ankle over and on top of your left knee. Hold it for a minute or so, then switch sides.
- Spinal twists– sit in your chair and twist to the right, then to the left.
- Leg lifts– sit in the edge of your chair, engage your abs by tucking in your ribcage, and lift your straight legs up from the floor to chair level and back down again. This exercise is better for the back of the classroom or the office, as it is more noticeable than the others.
- “Goddess” squat– bring your legs to opposite sides of your chair and squat just above your chair.
- Chair pose (how fitting)- Place your feet together and hover just above your chair in a chair squat position. It should still look like you’re sitting in your chair- but you’re actually not! Hold this for as long as you can.
2. Get Your Sweat On
Even if you don’t have much time in your day to work out, at least take a walk or a ten minute stretch break (since you now know how good stretching is for you). Work out before or right after school or work. The longer you wait to work out, the harder it will be (motivation-wise).
3. Involve Your Peers
- Get your friends and seat partners to do incognito stretches with you! If nothing else, it will give you something to talk and (maybe) laugh about.
- Get your peers to eat healthy snacks. You can do this by bringing healthy snacks into them if you have the time and feel like being extra nice.
- Group fitness, through clubs and classes, is great because it allows you to get your sweat or stretch on and socialize at the same time!
- For school: Start or join the workout clubs at your school. We have a workout room that you can go to after school, as well as a yoga club, so you can sweat with other gym or yoga junkies. On this same note, don’t slack off in gym class if you have it just because you’re afraid to get sweaty. Gym is a prime way to get your sweat on with classmates!
- For work: See if your work offers fitness classes to employees. For example, I know a hospital in my town offers yoga classes to its employees during lunch.
4. Stay Hydrated
HAVE A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES. The previous sentence was in caps because it’s just so important. Having a water bottle helps you make sure that you’re drinking enough water. The goal should be for you to go through at least two water bottles full of water in a school or work day. I go through about four (two during lunch alone). I keep a water bottle in my backpack.
5. Take A Walk
Take a walk whenever you have the chance. Throw in some stretching as you walk for good measure.
6. Keep Healthy Snacks Handy
You feel better when you eat better, so stock up on healthy snacks and keep them in your backpack, locker, or desk.
My favorite healthy snacks are…
- Banana bombs
- nuts (you can find a bunch at nuts.com)
- granola bars- my favorite are Lärabars, especially the peanut butter chocolate chip and apple pie versions. Kind bars are also good.
- veggies and hummus
- popcorn (homemade or packaged popcorn such as Skinny Pop or BOOM CHICKA POP)
On a similar note, fuel up with a nutritious breakfast such as a green smoothie, protein-packed oatmeal, or a sweet (but healthy-ish) baked good. Good, healthy food will keep you full and ready to focus on work.
7. Take the Stairs
There you have it! Seven simple ways you can incorporate healthier habits into your day. Thank you so much to nuts.com for the colorful graphic! Check out their website for healthy snacks and more tips on how to stay healthy at work and at school.