“Sitting all day is bad for you.”
Over and over we read and hear about the message of the harmful effects of sitting. According to the Washington Post, the health impacts of sitting range from head to toe from a foggy brain to a bad back to muscle degeneration. Having transitioned from a teacher, on my feet for most of the day to working from home as a writer, I can attest to the toll that sitting all day has on your body.
I could go on and on about the harmful effects of sitting all day…but we all know that we should move more. The problem for many of us, is how to combat sitting all day within our busy schedules. Sure, a daily workout is ideal..but the fact of the matter is that even if we workout, many of us are still sitting for most of the day. Yes, you can take the stairs instead of an elevator. Yes, you can park farther away in parking lot. But what about how to move more during our day to day of sitting at desks?
Which is why taking a dance break during the day, or two or three, is a perfect way to combat sitting all day- where ever you are, easily and quickly.
Why a dance break?
The idea of combatting sitting all day with a dance break is not unique. In fact, taking dance breaks to add movement to my day was suggested to me by Karen Culpepper, an herbalist and wellness therapist at the spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore as part of a larger action plan to increase my energy and vitality. Her theory is that not only would taking a dance break help get me out of my chair, but it would reinvigorate my energy throughout the day.
A dance break is easy.
You can dance anywhere-in your office, in your kitchen, in your living room. You can dance to anything (well ok, almost anything). Whether you have music playlists on your phone or computer, there are apps and streaming radio channels that make music easily accessible no matter where you are.
My first dance break
So here is the thing about a dance break: you do not have to a skilled dancer to reap the benefits of a dance break. You just have to move. There is no right or wrong, no better or worse- the idea is to get out of your chair and just move your body. My first dance break was spontaneous. Even though I had gone to Pilates earlier in the morning, I realized that I was not being productive while sitting at my computer. I was checking Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, without really getting anything done. So I changed my Pandora station from Enya to “Tik Tok Radio” and started to dance for five minutes. Except that after five minutes, I was having fun and did not to stop…and before I knew it, five minutes became ten minutes.
What happened after the dance break is what was so powerful
All of a sudden, my productivity soared. Ideas flowed from my brain onto my computer, pictures were edited, emails were answered. My mood lightened…I was smiling while sitting at my desk. Not only was I combatting sitting all day and finding an easy way to move more, but my energy and mood were noticeably different.
Instead of settling with one dance break a day, I planned for another, in the mid afternoon. This time, a friend and colleague joined me using a Google + Hangout. Here we were, me in Virginia, her in Pennsylvania- dancing- together- virtually. We laughed, we chatted and we danced.
My mood felt light and happy all day long. My IT Band did not feel tight. I slept better than I had in several days.
Could it have been a fluke? A short lived positive consequence because of the novelty of breaking up the day with dance breaks?
Maybe. But I don’t think so. There is something about dancing- maybe it is the music- maybe it is the movement. It is hard not to feel good when dancing.
The dance break did not stop there. While I am committing- to and for myself- that I will make at least two dance breaks part of my everyday work routine, dancing with friends, even virtually adds a social element that is especially powerful for those of us that work from home in our isolated offices. With the magic of a Google + Hangout, suddenly four of us were dancing together. As travel writer and friend Lara Di Paola, wrote, attitudes were being adjusted.
Taking a dance break is about adding movement to our day. More than that though, the power of a dance break is that it gives us a few minutes to take care of ourselves during our work day. The adrenaline from the movement, the rhythm of the music – the singing out loud to a favorite song, helps us organize our thinking, develop new ideas and look at day to day life more positively.
Does a dance break take the place of a workout? No. But just think. Three ten minute dance breaks over the course of a day add up to thirty minutes of cardio-vascular movement. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes of brisk activity each week (which totals 150 minutes) – which can be broken up into smaller increments of ten minutes of moderate or vigorous effort. If a few short minutes of dancing could our cardiovascular health in addition to counter balancing sitting all day- I am in.
Whether you have others to dance with or are dancing solo, adding movement to your day with a short dance break for five or ten minutes will change your day.
So…How do you combat sitting all day? Are you in for a dance break?