Friday, March 18, 2011

Move with Intent

I've been posting haphazardly lately, for which I apologize.  I started a new job and did some traveling, which has left me with less time for blogging than I'd like!  On the plus side the job has been a nice change (not that I disliked my old job).

I now sit in a cubicle for eight hours at a time and on some days I literally never have to leave my chair for work reasons.  When I do have to get up, it's to walk 50 feet (or less) to a meeting and get into another chair to sit still for another hour.

We all know the hazards of spending too much of your day sitting.  What to do?  In my old position I had my own office - I could close the door and do whatever short exercise routine I wanted to do, which is often what happened.  I'd knock out pushups, stretches, and even do parts of kata during my workday.  Now it's a lot less convenient to get any activity.

I haven't found a way to get a balanced routine, but I have been climbing stairs.  My cubicle is in the basement of a tall 5-story building (the 5th floor is the roof, but the stairs go that high).  Every hour or 90 minutes I get up, run up the stairs, taking them two at a time, then come back down.  It's like a cigarette break without the smoking.  It wakes me up a little and I'm hoping it causes enough of a catecholamine release to increase my body's use of fat while at rest (I'm not well versed enough on the literature to know if it's enough exercise to actually work that way).  I even put it on my to-do list in Outlook - every morning I add 5 tasks, called Stairs 1 - Stairs 5.  Every time I do a set I check off one of the tasks.

You don't have to climb stairs, but many of us have buildings where we have a place we can go to take a brisk walk, knock out some pushups, do a handful of jump squats, or something else.

There are a few things you can do to enhance this practice:

Do your activity with intensity - go fast, get your heart rate up.  You'll get a slight conditioning benefit, and a little is better than nothing.

Let's face it, this isn't going to be a ballbreaker of a workout.  You're not going to use every iota of your concentration to make it up the stairs.  So instead pay very careful attention to your form and posture.  For example:
  • Keep your chin tucked and your head back (so the crown of your head is pulled up towards the ceiling).
  • Keep your shoulderblades tucked back towards your rear end by tightening your lats.
  • Maintain a slight anterior pelvic tilt the entire time.
  • Focus on tightening the glutes with each step and not driving with quads alone.
  • Tighten your core - abs, pelvic floor muscles, etc., and keep them taut through the climb.
The idea is to train yourself to maintain good posture.  Then, when you're doing challenging exercise or martial arts exercises, keeping good posture will be somewhat automatic.  There are only so many things you can focus on consciously at any one time -  the more you can shift into the subconscious the better.

You'll get a lot more out of climbing or walking with purpose, with solid posture and activated muscles, than out of just trudging around out of some impulse to just move without considering the quality of movement.


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