Happy Easter! Week 15 just passed and this weeks #HealthyHabits2017 challenge was to stretch while doing other things.
In modern day life the majority of us spend a lot of time sitting and while it feels relaxing this can be pretty bad for our muscles and joints and bodies in general. I frequently feel the need to stretch to make sure my body isn’t feeling stagnant however I don’t stretch very often unless there’s a consistent niggle that might be helped from doing a little cat & cow stretch on my hands and knees. The only place I really notice is when I’m in my pilates class and I can’t straighten my leg out without a bend in the knee because my hamstrings are pretty tight.
Sitting for long periods of time without moving is linked to obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and excess body fat around the waist. Too much sitting increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer so it’s pretty worth moving around a bit.
One of the reasons why I started pilates was because I felt my core had been wrecked from sitting at a desk for years and it was no longer anywhere near strong enough and this in turn I felt was offering my back absolutely no support. I figured what’s the harm in trying to build up my core in order to offer my body more support and reliance on myself. So stretching is quite an interesting way to make sure that the rest of my is limber.
There are several ways you can incorporate stretching into any daily activity. You just need to remember. See some suggestions below:
To do while sitting.
Back stretch - Put your hands behind your head while you sit and push your elbows back.
Calf raises - Stand straight and go up and down on your tip toes.
Hamstring stretch - Sit on the edge of your seat - put one leg out straight on the ground with the toes pointing to the ceiling, put the other at a 90 degree angle. Sit up straight and lean forward.
Chest stretch - Sit up straight on the edge of your chair. Take your arms out to the side, bring your shoulder blades together - with your hands pointing to the ceiling - bring your hands together and then back out to the side again. Repeat 10 times.
To do while standing.
Reverse plank - Hold onto a desk and push your body up holding for ten seconds.
Oblique stretch - Stand up straight, put your hands up and lean to one side stretching for 10 seconds and then repeat in the other direction.
Stretching shoulders back - Place your hands together behind your back and pull backwards so your stretch your shoulders back.
Cat & cow - On your hands and knees curve your back upward with your head down, and then move so your tunny is going toward the floor and your head is up in the air - alternate slowly a few times.
HOW DID IT GO - WHAT DID I LEARN?
I learned I was pretty awful at remembering to do these stretches. They for some reason during a very busy week seemed very low on the priority scale despite the essence of these challenges being to incorporate these habits into daily life on the regular. It just honestly seemed like more effort than necessary and while it would be good to stretch I think there’s certainly a time and place for it.
Perhaps while you call someone if you put them on speaker, or if you are waiting for the kettle to boil for some tea it works quite well - the stretches are quite easy to do. However doing this while I worked seemed a little impossible as I needed all my concentration to be elsewhere.
I actually only managed to remember to do this two out of seven days which is pretty terrible if you ask me. I think part of the problem was that I’m usually already doing something else while I’m waiting for something and there’s no consistent routine so it actually feels quite hard to incorporate on the regular. It may well suit some people but not really me. At least with the meditation and flossing challenge I needed to set aside ten minutes a day to physically commit to doing this making the habit building easier.
After this week I think perhaps a better solution to bring stretching into daily life would be to set aside ten minutes a day to purely think about it and focussing on different areas of your body - either to relax you at the end or to energise you after waking up. With the second option sounding more appealing to me. Perhaps we’ll revisit this challenge in the future with this in mind.
Next challenge - Eat Fermented food