WAC Magazine

September | 2014

Issue link: http://www.wacmagazine.com/i/370174

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Page 26 of 67

SEPTEMBER 2014 | Washington Athletic Club Magazine | 27 day with no break and then go to the gym for one hour. Breaking up your workday like this can help lower your blood sugar and give your brain more oxygen. There are some easy ways to increase movement frequency. Make your next one- on-one meeting a walking meeting. Or run up and down a few flights of stairs between your work tasks. You could also set a timer and do a simple yoga pose every 30–60 minutes. Yoga has been found to reduce stress, boost immunity, and increase flexibility, among other things. Take a look at the sidebar on this page for examples of simple seated yoga stretches to do at work. MIX IT UP Second, do a variety of movements. Repeating the same movements every day may get your heart going and make you sweat, but it's not ideal for brain health. Do movements that are new to you. Most of us tend to move in the sagittal plane most of the time. (at's forward and backward.) Try doing more side-to-side movements, twists, turns, and spirals. New movements build new neural pathways and increase brain plasticity. Challenge yourself to move in new ways every day. Dancing is ideal for improvising new movements. Playgrounds are great for exploring a variety of movements. Try lying on the floor and rolling around in new and interesting ways. Maybe not in your office, though. You may get some funny looks. CHANGE YOUR THINKING If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of trying to get more movement in your life, it helps to remember that movement doesn't have to fall in the category of exercise. It can fill other roles that contribute to your wellness—such as play and exploration. Movement can be how you wake up (instead of with caffeine), and it can be how you heal, unwind, and relax. Movement can even play a role of transportation in your life. Changing your perception of movement can change your enjoyment of movement and the likelihood that you will incorporate it into your life in a sustainable way. In order to reframe movement in your life, think of it as essential to your physical, mental, and social health. BE MINDFUL It's also important to rethink your comfy chair. Sitting on a harder chair usually makes you sit up taller, so you actually use your core strength to hold yourself up. Your head, neck, and shoulders can be more relaxed. When sitting on something soft, we tend to mold into it, so we aren't using any strength to hold ourselves up. e head and neck get pushed forward, and the shoulders tend to round. is creates strain in the upper body. When we choose to use our muscles to hold ourselves up, things fall into alignment and there is less strain on the body and nervous system. You don't have to throw out your comfortable chair, of course. But being mindful of how your body is aligned and your muscles are engaged while you sit is a great practice no matter what. A SIMPLE SOLUTION All of these recommendations are intended to get you moving in healthy ways that positively impact your physical and mental health. ere are lots of simple strategies for incorporating movement into your life and rethinking what movement means. Even the smallest changes can benefit your well-being. Erin Goldman (pictured above) is a WAC Yoga Instructor. She can be reached at 206.371.0467 or erin@awakenedheartyoga.com YOGA AT WORK These are some simple seated stretches you can easily do at your desk: Seated backbend Sit toward the edge of your chair with feet flat on the floor. Place your hands flat on your lap. Slide your hands up toward the creases of your hips and arch your back. Pull your shoulders back. Lift your chin. Take five breaths. Seated twist Sit toward the edge of your chair with feet flat on the floor. Keep both sides of buttocks rooted onto chair as you twist to the right and hold arm of chair with both hands. If using a no-arm chair, sit sideways on your chair and hold back of chair. Inhale to lengthen your spine and exhale to twist. Repeat four breaths like this. Change sides. Seated hip opener Sit toward the edge of your chair with feet flat on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh. Flex your right foot and spread the toes on that foot. Sit up tall and lean forward any amount without rounding your back. Take five long breaths. Change sides. A N N A D E L A P A Z ( 3 )

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