Moving for health and wellness

Life Lessons

Moving for health and wellness

We were meant to look more like seahorses than shrimps. That may seem like an odd analogy, but picture the seahorse, upright and regal. Now visualize a shrimp. With the modern shift toward more desk-space working, our posture is the biggest loser. You may find your shoulders rotating forward according to Vocational Rehab Consultant for Unum UK, Agatha Lawton-Wieczorek.

In a recent bWell podcast, she made the case with host Beth Husted. Lawton-Wieczorek stated the British Medical Journal links 70,000 deaths each year in the UK to sitting. It directly correlates to an increased risk of physical and mental illness. Even small changes can lessen the risk of disease. Ultimately, we need to get moving in order to develop a healthy posture and maintain physical and mental strength.

“The extended amount of time we spend sitting causes our spine to form more of a C shape,” said Lawton-Wieczorek. “A healthy spine should mimic the letter S.” She added that “sitting and looking at our phones makes our shape even worse. In this position, our necks are hunched over, causing a C-shaped spine, which often leads to lower back pain.” 

The rehab professional emphasized the increase in prolonged sitting has seen a resultant upsurge in other health-related issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart conditions.

Setting goals to achieve more aligned posture is the first step. With your specific health needs in mind, here are 10 activities that can help you maintain a healthy posture:

  1. Nature walks – 20 minutes of walking in nature will improve your overall wellbeing. Going for walks raises serotonin levels and gets oxygen into the lungs.
  2. Stretch – Flexibility is crucial for your overall health and stretching can help. Simple shoulder rolls, side stretches and stretching the hamstrings can prevent injury. Stretch at your desk a few times during the workday.
  3. Yoga or Pilates – There are many options of yoga and Pilates sessions from beginner, intermediate to advanced levels.
  4. Squats –  This exercise strengthens your lower body and helps burn calories while taking some of the weight off your knees and ankles.
  5. Gardening – Gentle activities like working in the garden can improve mobility.
  6. Resistance Training – Working with bands is one of the best ways to protect bone density.
  7. Regularly movement – Runners World cites a recent study that found if you stand and move for about three minutes every half hour, you may be able to mitigate the negative effects of over-sitting. Even taking as few as 25 steps can improve blood sugar.
  8. Posture – Be conscious of proper alignment of your spine. A healthy S-shaped spine improves blood flow, keeps nerves and blood vessels healthy, and supports muscles, ligaments and tendons.
  9. Chair Exercises – There are some simple exercises that can be done while sitting to build strength and stave off back pain, while helping you maintain a healthy posture. They include seated leg extensions and ab twisters.
  10. Fitness Tracker – You can track your movements with a smart watch. Linking up the MyFitnessPal app will allow you to track your movements.

UK Public Health recommends a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity weekly for 5 – 18-year-olds and a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity for 19 – 64-year-olds, or 75 minutes if that activity is vigorous. This means that even a small amount of activity daily is beneficial.

Unum offers tutorials and other resources on different types of exercise to help achieve health goals. Take advantage of them and get moving. Stretch at your desk, take phone calls while standing, and practice deep breathing exercises. Move in the way that works best for your health and wellness and enjoy the immeasurable benefits of physical activity.

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