Could creating an active habit, like doing a handstand every half hour, help get your inspirational juices flowing?
“I recently met a guy called Ernie, who’s part of a cold-water surf company called Finisterre. He’s an unusual chap. He’s incredibly fit and has loads of energy. Every time he goes to the loo he does 20 press-ups. He says doing it helps him to work better throughout the day, keeps his mind focused and means he never sets foot in a gym. So think about what simple habit could put better energy into your daily routine. Come up with a few and try them out over the coming week and see what works for you. For example, for the first five minutes of every day I go outside and don’t talk to anyone or do anything digital. Or I move where I work ever hour to keep myself fresh.”
– Chris Baréz-Brown, creativity expert & author of Free!
After reading this refreshing article in the travel section of an inflight magazine, I felt compelled to learn more about the health benefits of regular movement during a standard working day.
It got me thinking… many of us cycle to work each morning, but how many of us would consider continuing our workout once we’ve arrived at the office?
A recent study in the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that ‘prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity’. For peak health, in other words, you need to move. Constantly. “Your body requires low-grade movement throughout the entire day for basic biological function,” says Katy Bowman, a biomechanist and author of Move your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement, “It has almost nothing to do with athletic performance, it has to do with your body’s circulation and feeding it’s cells.”
In a typical working week, people spend on average 5 hours and 41 minutes per day sitting at their desk and 7 hours sleeping at night. According to experts at the British Psychological Society (BPS), this lack of movement for prolonged periods is not only bad for your physical health, but potentially your mental well-being too. Dr Duncan explains: "People don't need a psychologist to tell them to get up and walk around. But if it helps, I'd tell them to put a post-it note on their computer to remind them.”
If the experts are right, and sitting still at your desk all day really does have a dramatically negative impact on the mind, surely it’s time we got up and did something about it!
If the mind is not working to full capacity, how can we expect to come up with new creative ideas, stay productive throughout the day and achieve our goals effectively?
According to The Creativity Post the importance of regular movement during the day is something education experts are already taking seriously in schools. Nina Fiore writes: “Regularly-scheduled movement breaks throughout the day and movement used within and between lessons results in better-behaved, more engaged students who can more easily focus on and retain what they are supposed to be learning. Keeping children active, engaged, and healthy, in the environment where they spend the majority of their waking hours, should be a top priority for all schools.”
With this in mind, how could simple changes to our daily routines as adults boost our creative performance in the workplace, whilst improving our overall well-being? At Zebrative creativity is everything, so we are taking the experts’ advice seriously and have come up with 5 top tips to help you keep active in the office...
1. Start small
This might be as simple as choosing to take the stairs rather than the lift. If you’re not a naturally athletic person, set realistic goals and introduce habits you are likely to continue. Even little movements and stretches, done repeatedly while sat at your desk can be extremely beneficial. Ever considered doing arm curls with a ream of paper or knee-bends under your desk? Check out The ultimate “Deskercise” Stretch Routine for more inspiration and ideas… we particularly like ‘The Olympic Diver’!
2. Hang out
Get a door-frame-mounted chin up bar and dangle from it for one minute every hour. If you’re feeling competitive, you could always set chin-up challenges with your co-workers!
3. Download the ‘Moves’ app
Moves automatically records any walking, cycling, and running you do. You can view the distance, duration, steps, and calories burned for each activity. The app is always on; so there’s no need to start and stop it, just keep your phone in your pocket or your bag. Seeing your everyday movements mapped out on your phone will give you a sense of accountability and is a great way to encourage new healthy active habits.
4. Walk & talk
Save up 4 or 5 phone calls and make them during a walk around the block. Or hold a ‘walk & talk’ meeting; ask your 3pm to join you for a stroll instead of booking the conference room. Walking for just 2 minutes every half hour can make a huge difference to your arterial health.
5. Sit ‘hand’ stand
Standing workstations are becoming increasingly popular in offices across the UK. But have you considered the proper ergonomics of your stand up workspace, such as correct desk height and the position of your computer? The Mayo Clinic provides some super handy tips in their visual guide to standing workstations. Recent research suggests that standing up for an extra 90 minutes each day significantly lowers your chance of developing diabetes. But you don’t need to stand up all day to reap the rewards; in fact experts recommend that you vary your working position regularly throughout the day. Stand for half an hour, sit cross-legged for half an hour, perhaps even do a few handstands in the hallway…! This might sound crazy, but don’t underestimate the power of a handstand… positioning your head lower than your heart has a surprising number of health benefits.