To sit or not to sit? That’s the question a lot of people are asking nowadays with all the “sitting is the new smoking” research coming out. All this desk jockey time is making us sicker than ever and shortening our lifespans. Add in the threat of repetitive stress injuries and chronic pain and it’s no wonder people are now referring to sitting a disease. But before you swat your laptop into the wastebasket to pursue your dream job as a smokejumper in the BC wilderness it’s worth exploring ways to cope with sitting.
Anat Baniel, a brain and movement specialist trained by somatic awareness pioneer Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, developed Desk Trainer, an interactive, fast-paced online exercise program specifically designed for desk workers. A computerized trainer guides users through specific exercises intended to help them become aware of changes in pain levels and flexibility, then to relate those changes to altered posture and emotional states.
The Desk Trainer website states that these exercises can reverse repetitive stress injuries and chronic pain; relieve stress and fatigue from sitting long hours on a computer; improve concentration, productivity and alertness; and prevent injuries from happening in the future.
Studies prove that frequent micro-breaks when combined with physical activity can substantially reduce or even eliminate computer-related injuries and pains. Yet, in a time-scarce work environment it’s doubtful most office workers could find the time to take exercise breaks, let alone remember to peel away from the desk on a regular basis. Luckily, Desk Trainees don’t even need to leave their desk to train and they can program the application to give them regular reminders.
Desk Trainer is based on the Anat Baniel method (ABM), a somatic awareness exercise program that suggests slow, conscious movements to rewire neural patterns in the brain. Since the body adopts painful, habitual movement patterns as we age, by moving with awareness it becomes possible to relearn the efficient movement patterns of days past. Current research into brain plasticity, the brain’s ability to grow and change even into old age, provides scientific evidence of ABM’s effectiveness.
Just 50 years ago it was unthinkable that smoking would be banned in bars and restaurants. Our health consciousness has rocketed light years ahead in record time. Unlike cigarettes, computers are a harder habit to kick because we’re so dependent on them with our jobs. So we might as well make the most of our situation and exercise while we sit. Concerned about your office mates’ reaction to seeing you spinning around in your chair, just tell them you’re putting a new spin on the term multitasking!