Engage your day in a techy way By Lori Leath Smith
It’s Tuesday at 5 p.m. in my office in Seaside and I’ve been standing most of the day. Yes, standing. But, I feel great! Not sluggish or foggy and ready to tackle a 6 p.m. “Burn” class with Adam. So I open my BeachFit app on my smartphone, find the class and time I want, and make my reservation for the class. I simply sign up and voila! I’m there! About to don well-worn tennis shoes and workout clothes, I am definitely more energetic and “up” for a workout than I would have been a couple of months ago, even after some all-day standing.
More than a “millennial” trend, as we say in the marketing world when talking about that demographic, technology and fitness have become somewhat synonymous. I mean, not technically, but when you consider how, over the years, we’ve changed the way we work out, it could seem so.
From fitness phone apps to wearable calorie and fitness trackers, the future of fitness is tied to tech whether we like it or not. And, though most might feel the millennials have a corner on the technology scene, it doesn’t mean those “aging gracefully” can’t join the movement and use it to our advantage. With all the lifestyle changes I’ve made this past year, including accessing food and fitness information at my fingertips, I feel younger, have more energy and possess a positive outlook on life in general. (Please see back issues of “Aging Gracefully” at theseasidetimes.com.)
Even though it seems technology is getting a bad rap in the “health” world, often blamed for the increasingly sedentary lives many people are leading, my phone, tablet, techy equipment and gadgets don’t have to be a license to sit still. I’ve begun using them as motivators to get and stay fit. In fact, in a global survey of exercisers, Life Fitness found that exercisers who use technology to support their workouts consider themselves to be more successful at achieving their weight and fitness goals.
So, as a public relations and marketing professional, I am always looking for ways to maintain health on a daily basis, including activities such as mini-workouts or a Raw + Juicy “Green Goddess” lunch, during my hectic day. Sometimes, it just isn’t feasible to wake up at 5 a.m. for a workout. And, once I’m into the day with all its activity, a workout seems to loom, adding stress. But still, I strive to obtain some form of exercise each day. The fact is, exercise gives me a major endorphin rush and a self-confidence boost, making me feel much better the more I’m consistent, both mentally and physically. But the truth is, even though that self-confidence motivates me to keep hitting the gym, I still find some days challenging to get even an afternoon workout in.
Then I heard about a standing desk from one of my colleagues at The Seaside Style. I was intrigued. Some of the employees at The Seaside Style have incorporated a standing desk into their daily work routine. They say they burn more calories while standing versus sitting, helping their posture and reaping other benefits.
I was sold. I knew I needed to try it since many of my workdays consist almost entirely of sedentary work on the computer. Burning more calories while working is a better use of that time.
For me, standing a few hours a day has had its benefits, mainly my mind is much clearer and my body has more energy in the afternoons.
My typical workday starts around 8 or 9 a.m. and wraps up around 5 or 6 p.m. I do better if I stand mostly all morning until lunchtime, and then stand again for a couple of hours after lunch. By 3 or 4 p.m., I’m ready to sit, and my feet need a break. But, my mental alertness and energy stay steadfast, even after lunch, which is usually when I would feel less energy. I also sit at lunch, and often during conference calls. The point is, my standing desk doesn’t mean I’m standing for eight hours a day straight. But it does seem that human beings aren’t meant to spend 40 hours a week sitting still in a chair either. I don’t stand ALL the time now — I sit, stand, pace, and stretch. The difference between now and before is that I used to mostly sit. Now I mostly stand.
Though it did take some getting used to, clearly, I’m a fan. When I’m sitting at my desk, I tend to slump, with my back curved and shoulders forward, which closes my chest and makes my breathing more shallow. When standing at a desk where my forearms are at a 90-degree angle on the desk surface, my shoulders go back, which makes my spine concave and opens my chest. Maybe that’s why I seemingly have more energy and don’t feel as tired and sluggish.
Since my legs and brain are fresh in the morning, I try to begin my day by standing and diving into the day’s most effort-intensive work first. By the afternoon I’m ready to sit a little, although I am up and down some throughout the day. My desk is movable up and down and placing it at the correct height (relative to my own) has been key. My default work position is standing on flat feet, with my shoulders back, and my back slightly arched.
After several weeks of standing at my desk, my back feels great. My posture is better than ever. I’m way more active throughout the day, and because I’m used to standing all day at work, standing for longer periods of time doesn’t usually bother me. And, apparently, I’m burning more calories.
After I got used to the standing, I now feel I do a better job of focusing. I carry less stress in my shoulders (versus when I’m sitting) and my wrists, being in line with the keyboard, feel less stress than when sitting at a desk.
With all the renewed energy in the afternoons, I now am able to flow a little more seamlessly into an afternoon workout, if I miss the morning one. While my daily calorie burn is definitely higher at the standing desk compared to sitting, and it does help fill in the gaps when workouts are scarce, I realize standing at my desk is not a full replacement for an intense workout.
That’s where my handy BeachFit mobile app can be a big help. With my own fluctuating schedule, I can use the app to check into the studio’s schedule to find a class at a time convenient for me. I can also track my workouts, find the class and instructor I want, learn about special promotions, keep up with personal trainers, and search for instructors and their classes.
So stand up, download your app, and come on this fit tech ride with me this year as we explore more valuable and technological breakthroughs in health, food and fitness.