April hosts the national activity awareness day “One Your Feet Britain”. On Thursday 28th April 2022, two million desk-based workers across Britain will participate in a variety of fun and simple activities to #SitLess and #MoveMore at work. Here at DMO we always encourage an increase in daily activity so read below to find out why we deem this such an important initiative and how you can get involved…
Why should we move?
“If you’re not moving forwards, you’re moving backwards!”
If the infamous Great White Shark needs to move to stay alive, who are we to question it?!
Ok seriously, why should we move? Well there are a HUGE number of benefits to movement for the mere mortal human. Below is a list of those we deem the most important:
Muscle oxygenation: Much like the formidable Great White Shark (and all other animals on the planet), we humans need oxygen to stay alive. The process of respiration is the bed rock of life for every single cell in our body. Now, due to our fantastic cardiovascular system, blood can be pumped around our body without the need for major full body movement. However, muscle tissue requires adequate oxygenation throughout the day to avoid damage. Blood flow through our muscles acts like a sponge in water; the contraction of the muscle squeezes the now carbonated blood along the vessels and back towards our lungs for expulsion and the muscle relaxation that follows then provides a pressure change which draws freshly oxygenated blood back through the vessels. This process occurs throughout the body and so to ensure good muscle tissue health, frequent contraction and relaxation of each muscle is of great importance.
Blood flow – As mentioned above, muscle contraction and relaxation helps our cardiovascular system to pump blood around the body. Our blood cleansing system all concentrates around the thorax (chest), so areas such as the feet and lower legs have to fight both distance and gravity to return there. Blood pooling in the venous system can lead to issues such as varicose veins and DVT, both of which can be easily avoided with frequent movement
Fascial adhesions – Fascia is the connective tissue layer found between our skin, our muscles and internal organs. Myofascial chains run from head to toe and are the reason a movement at our foot can affect the tissue tension in our neck. Regular, varied activity ensures stretch throughout these myofascial chains and reduces the risk of adhesions, which can lead to reduced muscle or internal organ functionality.
Concentration & mood – Studies have shown that even a small amount of movement (10 mins of walking) can significantly improve a person’s cognitive performance. Work smarter not harder! Additionally, activity reaps many mental wellbeing rewards such as improving mood, self-confidence, energy levels and sleep quality as well as reducing stress.
Bone density – Although we may consider them the symbol of death, our skeleton is very much alive and bony turnover is a constant cycle throughout the entirety of our lives. Compression of bone which occurs during activity is necessary to aid the reformation of bone. As we age, the reformation process slows and the importance of activity for a good healthy bone structure increases, allowing us to continue to avoid fractures and bony degeneration.
Reduced risk of disease – as mentioned above, physical activity improves cognitive performance and this includes reducing risks of dementia. Activity also reduces the risk of other diseases such as cardio-vascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately the latest research shows that when it comes to heart disease, leading a sedentary life is as great a risk factor as smoking and obesity.
But we must have evolved to sit by now…
Well yes actually, albeit over a relatively short period of time in our long history. The main issue with the seated desk-based posture is longevity. Long days can slip past whilst glued to a desk and sitting provides much less capacity for life’s great elixir – movement!
A few issues with the sitting posture for you to be aware of:
Upper and Lower Cross Syndromes – take a look at our other blogs for more information on these conditions specifically but essentially these relate to the overuse and inactivity of opposing muscle groups that cause functional imbalances in our mechanical systems. What is “Lower Cross Syndrome”?
Blood flow – Long periods of neck extension and hip flexion drastically reduce the ability for blood to pass into and out of the extremities of our body (e.g. feet and hands).
Lumbar disc compression – Sitting reverses the natural curvature of the lumbar spine (your lower back), this can lead to disc bulges posteriorly. If repeated over time, discs can be subject to tears, herniations and nerve compression which are very common complaints of desk-based workers.
Breathing mechanics – Sitting, particularly slumped, reduces the capacity for lower rib expansion and ‘diaphragmatic breathing’. As a result, many desk workers will adopt an upper rib breathing mechanism using accessory muscles from the neck and shoulder complex. This can cause mechanical dysfunction and also lead to respiratory, bowel and further cardiovascular health complaints.
So what do we suggest?
Well, it’s not just us, James Brown said it himself;
“Get up offa that thing”
- Stand during phone calls
- Stand up and walk around your desk every 30 minutes
- Use the stairs more
- Move away from your desk for coffee breaks and lunch
- Arrange a walking meeting with a colleague
- Shift your sitting posture with some upper body stretches
See our Resources section below for further ideas on how to move more during the day, the health benefits of doing so and strengthening and stretching exercises you can perform in your office.
On Your Feet Britain – Thursday 28th April 2022 is your chance to get the ball rolling and encourage your employees, co-workers or even your boss to take a stand. To register follow the link below and get your workplace involved! On Your Feet Britain – Sign Up
- Stretching Exercises for the Workplace
- Strengthening Exercises for the Workplace
- Building activity into your everyday life to prevent disease and stay healthy
- Building Activity into everyday life to combat low mood
- 17 ways to be more active at work
- Optimal Desk Posture
- Being Active in the Workplace