Standing desks, as you know, are all the rage. Sitting is the progenitor of modern disease; It’s killing us. Some research suggests that sitting for more than 8 hours a day is linked with 40% higher all-cause mortality rates. So we’ve come up with an elegant solution for avoiding the problem. Let’s stand instead of sit. Simple. Effective, right? Well, no, actually…
Move it or lose it
You see, as far as I’m concerned, sitting, per se, is not the problem. It’s stasis; lack of movement. Whether you’re sitting for 8 hours a day or you’re in an ass-to-grass overhead squat for 8 hours doesn’t really matter. It’s the fact that you haven’t moved all day that is hurting you. Movement is nature’s great healer. Don’t ask me exactly how or why. I’ll be honest: my evidence is anecdotal at best. But it’s something I believe deeply. Like sleep, movement has been a part of our daily habits for centuries. And like sleep, movement is used to repair, rejuvenate and combat illness. As well as warding off disease, movement promotes mobility, recovery and mental acuity.
For all these reasons, movement is part of my diet. And by movement, I don’t mean training. 1 hour per day will not undo 8 hours of sitting, I’m afraid. You need to make movement a part of the way you live, away from the gym as well as during training. Movement is a way of life.
In pursuit of movement: Walking
Alright, alright, sorry. I’m waxing lyrical about movement. And you’re busy. You already give up 90 minutes 5 times a week for training. You already do food prep (don’t you?!). You already get to bed early (Right?!?!). So how are you supposed to find time for MORE movement? Well, I use two incredibly simple hacks to vastly increase the volume of movement I get throughout the day.
The first is walking. I love walking. It’s time to think and time to breathe unairconditioned air. Take every opportunity you have to walk. Get off the tube 1 stop early. Go on foot rather than on the bus. Let’s face it, with London traffic you’re saving no time on that bus anyway. At lunch, take 10 minutes to walk around the streets near your office. I do actually believe the 10,000 steps thing is a good idea. It’s not a cure-all. But as supplementary movement, it is highly effective. Of course, if you’re a cyclist, then cycling will do the trick too.
The second, and even more important tactic I employ is the Five Minute Flow, which I am capitalising because it is SO awesome. The concept is super simple and one I got from Max Shank. Set your iphone time for 5 minutes. And then just MOVE. Use movements which will take your joints through a full range of motion. Use the kind of things we put into warm-ups at City Road. I tend to do 5 (each side) of anything I do. I concentrate on things that tend to feel beaten up and tight for me and on movements that I struggle with. I tend to split time between upper body and lower body. This doesn’t have to be fancy at all. And as you do these more and more, you’ll build your own repertoire of routines. I do a five minute flow early every morning when I get to the gym and I end my day with a flow too. Then in between, if I’m working at the computer, I try to flow every 1-2 hours.
I can’t emphasise enough how effective this has been for me. It’s improved recovery; it’s boosted mental focus hugely and it has helped me resolve pain. It is also meditative. It’s a chance to check in on your body, focus on your breath and be present. This combination of effects is powerful. Get started with your flow TODAY! I’m including a couple flow example videos below to get you started.
How I flow
This is my current early-morning routine. In the morning, I like to get my spine moving as a priority. Jefferson curls are a staple to move all the vertebrae through controlled flexion. There is something about these curls which wakes me up straight away. I then use puppy dog to get spinal extension, especially in the thoracic, or upper back, and to loosen my horrendously tight shoulders. Upper body mobility is a priority for me, especially when I’m working at the desk. I then like to get into the hips with some lizard variations and I add the twist to get some spinal rotation as well as flexion and extension. I finish in a squat because it’s a position I am continually working on. I go fast or slow depending on how I’m feeling. Sometimes the timer goes off half-way through. No worries. I just finish the movement I am currently on. This is a good place to start if you are stuck for ideas but please be as creative as possible. Do what FEELS good. Listen to your body. Learn to understand the signals it is sending you about what needs to move more.
As ever, any questions, please drop me an email. Any legal proceedings please forward to BJ Rule, head of our non-existent legal department.