Let’s get the facts about exercise: Americans spend more time sitting, and sitting with poor posture, staring into our devices, than most descendants of apes do. We’re famous for this statistic.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t find sneaky, critical ways to do better and fit in stress-alleviating exercise– even while we’re shackled to our computers, our desks, our homework and, in this case, our college applications (if you still haven’t finished yours. In which case, o baby, you better get a move on!).
Can you really exercise while sitting?
This excellent article by fierce yoga teacher Ana Forrest (read: hardest ab work I’ve ever done in my life, and a great physical antidote to fear and stagnation) details great ways to keep moving even when you’re stuck sitting. Try Ana’s suggestions at your desk– or, if you’re a jet-setter, on the airplane (you know you want to be that person on the plane who everyone stares at, don’t you?).
Generally, long stretches spent sitting should be punctuated by breaks so you can increase blood flow and give your brain a boost. Also, you’ll feel less busted and more bionic.
Exercise stirs up your circulation, your joie d’vivre and your efficiency. It makes you feel better, period, during and after. So why not optimize how you feel while you’re doing what you gotta do? If you missed that first link because you were distracted by your numb butt and throbbing neck, read how here.
How Exercise Helped Me
When I was in grad school getting my MFA in writing, I spent long hours staring at my computer, writing or, um, pretending to write. Once per hour, I would jump up and get my freak on by faux jump-roping (I had a basement office), wall-push-ups, and low back stretches (many taught to me by NYC master yoga teacher, Alison West). I made sure to inflate my lungs all the way, and breathe out as deeply as I could, shake out my hands and roll out my neck (poor, poor neck!).
And, BAM! The muse (or call her the finish-your-s**t-up-fairy!) must be attracted to movement, because I always felt more creative after these breaks, my stamina to work reignited, my thinking clear. This is what I hope will happen for you, even if you can’t justify getting up and away for longer periods of time. You can do it without leaving your seat.
Your mind, your mood, and your movement
And when we’re working hard, there is often a lot– too much, honestly– on our minds. That amplifies the lethargic tendencies– that is, continuing to sit, which in turn amplifies lethargy and moodiness, and so on. How does exercise offset the negative effects of that? Here’s the insight of Elissa Epel, associate professor of psychiatry at UCSF: “Working out also helps keep us from ruminating ‘by altering blood flow to those areas in the brain involved in triggering us to relive these stressful thoughts again and again.'”
So send that blood where it will do best by you, and help you to do your best. And if you’re still stuck, let us teach you some other great tools to move your mind, your bod, and, just maybe, mountains.