We all know it’s important to stay active. But that can be difficult when you spend 8-10 hours a day at a desk. With new studies showing negative side effects of sitting for long periods and an overall feeling of wasting time sitting idle at work, I decided it was time to take action.
I couldn’t afford buying a treadmill to run on while typing (nor was I up for an 8 hour cardio workout) so I started small by borrowing a co-worker’s exercise ball to try during the workday. Here’s my experience of the day I first traded my chair for the ball.
9am: It’s important to use a ball that’s the right size for you. Your legs should bend at a 90 degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. I thought this ball might be too large, but it seems to be the right size. Thinking about my core!
10am: It feels good to sit up nice and straight. I normally have terrible posture when I sit in a regular chair, but the ball really helps.
11am: It’s pretty comfortable to sit cross-legged. I’ll switch legs in 30 minutes. I wonder if this is still correct posture.
12pm: My ability to bounce around a bit helps me brainstorm. I’m also slowly rolling side to side, back and forth to get a tiny core workout. I feel like I’m winning! That being said, my lower back is starting to feel strained.
2pm: Got up and walked to the cafeteria for a late lunch. I definitely feel my posture is better as I make my way. It feels more natural to stand up straight than it normally does (no awkward “adjustment” period). This is a great feeling!
3pm: Post-lunch my back is feeling pretty sore. I can’t help slumping over and leaning on my desk – time to sit on my chair until the end of the day.
What I Learned. Will I continue to use an exercise ball at work? Yes. However, there are a few pointers I now know are important to keep in mind.
Be mindful of your posture. An exercise ball is a great tool to sit up straight, but if you aren’t careful you can still form bad habits. Stay aware of your posture. If you find yourself starting to twist, lean, or slouch – adjust!
Take breaks. Sitting on an exercise ball for a full 8-10 hours is just not realistic. Take little breaks here and there if your back starts to feel strained like mine did or if you feel tired. Stand at your desk for awhile and stretch it out if you don’t want to sit. But remember, it’s okay to just take a load off too! Build up the amount of time you spend on the ball over the weeks.
Make the most of it. Use the ball to break up the monotony of the day and get a mini workout in. You can engage your core by slightly rolling back and forth and side to side. Try balancing with no hands and slowly lifting one leg at a time a few inches off the floor. When a good song comes on your headphones or you need some creative inspiration, bounce it out!
Do you use an exercise ball or do anything else special to fight a sedentary workday? Share your tips and experiences below!