Wellness, Whole Health

Flex, Stretch and Compute

As we sit at the computer our shoulders are usually forward and we are hunched over for extended periods of time.  Our bodies are not designed to sit all day. Sitting for long periods of time (10 hours or more per day) has a negative effect on health: circulation decreases, muscles tire, and tasks become more uncomfortable to perform.

It can cause pain and tightness in the back and neck, tingling in the extremities and poor posture.  Along with this, there are also increases in the risk of heart disease, Type II Diabetes and some cancers.

Immediately after sitting down, muscle electrical activity and metabolism (maintenance and function processes) slow down as a result less calories are burned (1 calorie per minute is burned while sitting, 1/3 of what the body burns when walking).

After a prolonged period of this lifestyle, LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) increases and weight gain occurs.  [Also, sitting after eating a meal causes high blood sugar spikes. Instead move around after eating to cut the sugar spikes in half … move around, clean the kitchen, walk the dog.]

After just two weeks of sitting, muscles begin to atrophy (shrink and weaken) and oxygen consumption (use) decreases, making it more difficult to climb stairs and walk the longer distances.  Incorrect computer posture habits combined with long-term sitting may cause medical problems such as:  cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) or repetitive stress injury (RSI).

It has also been shown that in women bone mass can drop by 1% after a year of sitting for 6 hours a day.  Reduce these effects of long term sitting; take breaks; switch things up:

  • Stand every 45 minutes to 1 hour (set an alarm or timer). Standing up for 1 – 2 minutes every hour will reduce the negative effects of sitting all day.
  • March in place for twenty seconds.
  • Reach down and try to touch your toes for twenty seconds.
  • Wander around and pick up or reorganize for twenty seconds.
  • Maintain intervals of moderate activity during the day.

Below are examples of some exercises / stretches that can be performed without leaving your desk area.  Set your timer to take breaks and go for it!  Start small and slowly work your way up to more movement.

neckflexorNeck Flexors, Sitting or Standing

  1. Stand (or sit) head comfortable in a centered position.
  2. Draw in chin pulling head straight back.  Keep jaw and eyes level.
  3. Hold this position for 5 to 7 seconds.  Release. 
  4. Repeat.

standingbendSide/Torso – Standing Bend

  1. Stand with feet together and palms overhead touching.
  2. Bend body to one side as far as possible.
  3. Hold 5 to 7 seconds.
  4. Resume original position.
  5. Bend body to the other side as far as possible.
  6. Hold 5 to 7 seconds.
  7. Resume original position.

chest-scapula-adductionChest Scapula Adduction with Pectorals

  1. Stand in a doorframe, palms against frame and arms at 90 degrees.
  2. Lean forward, squeezing shoulder blades together.
  3. Hold 7 to 10 seconds.
  4. Release, then repeat.

hipflexorHip Flexors/Quadriceps Stretch

  1. Stand, may use chair as a support.
  2. Slowly bend left leg feeling the stretch.
  3. Hold for 7 to 10 seconds.
  4. Release.
  5. Repeat with other leg.

dorsiflexionDorsiflexion and Plantar Flexion, sitting

  1. Sitting with feet on the floor.
  2. Point toes up while keeping heels on the floor.
  3. Hold position 5 to 7 seconds.
  4. Now, press toes to the floor while raising heels.
  5. Hold position 5 to 7 seconds.
  6. Repeat several times.

 

upperback-stretchUpper/Mid Back Stretch, sitting

  1. Sitting in chair with knees apart, bend forward toward the floor.
  2. Feel the stretch in the lower back.
  3. Hold 7 to 10seconds.
  4. Sit upright.
  5. Repeat.
Whole Health

How to Lose a Pound of Body Weight

A person wanting to lose weight needs to burn more calories than are consumed, simple equation.  However metabolism, the rate at which an individual burns calories to maintain their bodily functions, also has an impact.  Metabolism differs from person to person.  It depends on muscle mass, activity level, height, and the sex of the individual.

To lose one pound in a week, a person must either reduce their caloric intake by 3,500 calories or burn an extra 3,500 calories (while keeping intake the same).

So, does that mean when trying to lose weight a person may eat what he/she wants as long as he/she is not eating too many calories?  Answer:  Yes and No.

To sustain health, the quality of the food ingested is important.  Eating low nutrient, fatty and processed foods can cause overeating because these foods are quickly digested, leaving you hungry shortly thereafter and undernourished.

Consuming these foods may lead to development of lifestyle diseases (disease that potentially can be prevented by changes in diet, environment, and lifestyle) such as Type II diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and osteoporosis.

Vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt will fill you up longer.  Also, they are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that promote a healthy heart.  To meet daily requirements, eat a mix of unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods (foods that contain lots of nutrients compared to calories) every day. Look for foods that contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Note:  To maintain good health it is best to not lose more than 1 to 1.5 lb. per week when in weight loss mode.