Healthy and Productive Movement Throughout the Day

Two feet in grey sneakers on a sidewalk in front of a setting sun

You already know that exercise is good for your health.

But did you know that moving around and stretching your muscles has a range of other benefits, boosting everything from your mood to your brain power? 

What’s more, certain exercises have been shown to enhance focus, increase memory retention, and improve your creative thinking. And, of course, let’s not forget: exercising makes us feel better. Period.

With all the positive benefits that exercise can bring, you’d think we’d make it more of a habit to move around.

But if you work from home or work an office job, you might find yourself sitting behind a desk for most of the day. You know that you should get up and move around but for myriad reasons—you’re inundated with work, it’s too cold outside, you’re too tired to get up, the list goes on—you end up slumped over your desk, eating lunch in front of your computer, or worse, working through the day without taking a break. 

And while you might think that working through the day is good for your productivity, it’s actually hampering your productivity in the long run. 

In addition to exposing yourself to burn out, a sedentary office life can lead to:

  • Increased stress and anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Stiff joints and muscle aches
  • Poor work performance
  • Decreased productivity 

But here’s the good news: even just taking micro breaks throughout the day can do wonders for your mind and body. So you can always start small and build your way up.

Below are the best types of exercises to help you focus, feel more creative, improve productivity, and more. Some of these exercises are for days when you have time to spare and for days when your time is limited. 

Stretch yourself to feel more energized

Stretching isn’t just for warming up your muscles before a run or a workout class. Doing some stretches in the morning or throughout the work day can elevate your mood and energy levels.

Stretching has been shown to:

  • Increase blood flow to your body and brain, which means you’ll feel less sluggish and more awake.
  • Switch on your parasympathetic nervous system which can help you feel less stressed and more calm
  • Soothe stiff joints and muscles 

How to incorporate stretches into your day:

  • In the morning. When you wake up, your muscles are still stiff and tense from staying in the same sleeping position all night. Help “re-animate” your body by doing some gentle stretches. Click here for a simple morning stretch routine.
  • Late afternoon. We all tend to get groggy in the late afternoon. But don’t reach for your afternoon cup of coffee, which will only disrupt your sleep later that night. Instead, get up and do some light stretches to get your blood circulation going.

Take a walk to feel more creative

Want to enhance your creativity? Then put on your walking shoes. 

There’s a reason that so many famous artists, writers, and thinkers cherished their walking routine. Walking helps us step away from the hustle and bustle of our days. By letting our bodies wander, our mind freely wanders as well. And in this loose, relaxed state, we gain insights into our creative work. 

Walking has been shown to:

  • Relieve stress and anxiety
  • Improve our memory
  • Help us problem solve and be more creative 

How to incorporate more walks into your day:

  • Morning walk. Start your day off on a gentle note with a leisurely stroll. Walk around your neighborhood or go for a walk in the park. 
  • Evening walk. There’s nothing like a long walk to help you decompress. And for remote workers, walking provides a nice closure to your day, and eases your transition from work mode to personal time. 

Take a dance class to boost your brain power

Not only is dancing a fun way to socialize and get in some cardio, but it’s also a great way to take care of your heart and brain health. 

Dancing has been shown to:

How to incorporate dancing into your day:

  • Take a dance class after work. Classes like ballet, jazz, salsa, bachata, flamenco, and West African dance are guaranteed to make you sweat and have fun while you’re at it.  
  • Online videos. Don’t have time to take a class? No problem. There are plenty of instructional dance videos on YouTube where you can learn some simple choreography and practice from the convenience of your living room.

Increase your concentration with interval training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is all the rage these days. The idea behind HIIT is to alternate between short, intense bursts of exercise with a period of rest and recovery. And then repeating the cycle multiple times. Example: one minute of jump roping, followed by one minute of rest, and then repeat. 

HIIT workouts are known to be just as effective as doing a longer workout. So if you’re short on time, you can squeeze in a quick interval workout and reap plenty of benefits. 

HIIT workouts have been shown to:

How to incorporate HIIT training into your day:

  • 20 minute break. If you’re short on time, HIIT is the workout for you. Find a free 20 minute block in your day to get in your workout. You can find HIIT workout videos here
  • Focus on the intervals. If you’re new to HIIT training, it’s a good idea to ease into the intensity, and focus more on the interval aspect. You’ll still get the benefits of an interval workout while putting less strain on your body. Example: add interval training to your daily walk by varying your route. Walk a flat path and then go up a steep hill to make it more challenging. 

So get up from your desk and start moving around. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

Written by JiJi Lee

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