Working in an office isn’t a high-impact activity, but it still takes a toll on your body. The sedentary nature of sitting at your computer can cause soreness, discomfort, and negative impacts on your physical well-being.
- Decrease productivity, energy, and focus
- Negatively impacts metabolism, blood circulation, and bone health
- Decrease muscle tone or posture
- Increase risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or type 2 diabetes
But there are simple preventative measures you can take on a daily basis to protect your body against these physiological implications.
And, to learn more, we spoke with Melissa Nkomo, Founder of Kunye—curators of The Well at And-Co—about what you can do to mitigate these issues.
And-Co: You mentioned that office work-induced soreness is one of the most common issues you hear from people at The Well. Can you explain how sitting at a desk can impact your body?
Melissa Nkomo: People often talk about their muscles being tight which can cause stiffness and soreness. Muscles can be tight, that’s true, but what most people don’t know is that some of the discomfort we feel after sitting for long periods of time is due to certain muscles being in a lengthened position for too long. So while some muscles are short others can be long, and both long and short muscles can be weak, tight, or strong.
Longer muscles tend to be more flexible whereas shorter ones are less flexible. And stronger muscles provide more stability compared to weaker ones.
When you spend the whole day sitting in the office, it means your muscles aren’t being stretched or strengthened which leads to common aches and pains in the hips, back, shoulders, and neck.
Most people think they just need to stretch things out but it’s likely that they also need to work on strength and mobility too.
Pilates and other forms of mindful movement, when taught correctly, can help lengthen and strengthen muscles and improve mobility. It’s not only about stretching sore muscles caused by sitting, but it’s also about increasing your strength, flexibility, and overall range of motion.
Most people probably understand the concept of movement, but where does the mindful aspect come into play? How do you define mindful movement?
Mindfulness is the state of being present. Therefore I define mindful movement as any form of movement that invites you to check in with your body (and mind) vs. check out.
When we think about working out, higher intensity exercise in particular, a lot of people use a sweaty workout as a way to check out and “clear their minds.” And there’s a place for that. A long run can have meditative properties—hence runner’s high.
But mindful movement is about being present in the practice, whatever that may look like for you. It builds stronger neural pathways between mind and body which help us develop a deeper self-awareness and better muscle activations.
Building strength isn’t just about aesthetic benefits. We need our bodies to be strong AND flexible. The quality of being present during your practice allows you to be a little bit more intentional no matter the modality that you choose to move. With intention and mindfulness, anything you choose can be beneficial to your body.
For example, if you’re strength training in the gym, you can go slow and controlled, focusing on the intention and feeling of the movement.
How can people incorporate mindful movement into their workdays in order to alleviate some of the physiological challenges that come with sitting and being sedentary?
It might begin with a mindset shift—from the top down.
Since the pandemic, I think folks have been reconsidering the way they approach their workdays. The idea that all work needs to be done at a desk is becoming a bit outdated.
There are many ways that we can be productive and also kinder to our minds and bodies. There are a few things I’d recommend:
- Get up and move around: I love taking my conference calls while I’m out walking my dog or grabbing a coffee. The total number of minutes you move in a day all contribute to your overall health and fitness and that includes the movement you do outside of a scheduled workout. Finding opportunities for movement in your day can go a long way.
- Change your body position: Can you sit in a different place or location? Can you stand? Can you take your calls on a walk? As much as possible, change your body position throughout the day. You can use a standing desk; sit on the couch, floor, or bed; or go for a walk. Try not to stay in one position for too long so your body gets the chance to move and stretch.
- Enjoy “movement snacks”: Many people think they have to get in a full hour-long workout to make movement worthwhile, but that’s not true. You can break up the day with “movement snacks.” These are short times of activity interspersed throughout the day, like a quick yoga flow, a short mat pilates series, a dance session, or a mini-workout with equipment.
- Schedule a class: When you’re able to get a full workout in, try scheduling a class to keep you accountable. It’s often easier to stay on track with your goals when you have something on the calendar. You can also schedule classes at non-traditional times—it doesn’t have to be at the end of the day when you’re tired or at 5 a.m. if you’re not a morning person. Find time to do it when it works best for you.
- Rethink your relationship with exercise: Exercise isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s really about longevity and health—how to feel better in everything you do, whether that’s walking for longer, sitting more comfortably, or pushing your body and challenging yourself. Prioritize your movement practices in the same way you would good nutrition, therapy, or any other self-care you do regularly. Movement isn’t just physical. It can also help you focus more, have better mental clarity, and boost creativity.
How would you describe the experience of taking a class at The Well? What benefits does it offer?
The Well really embodies a lot of what I’ve shared above. We train the body as an entire system —mind and body. Our classes are designed to help you connect and align your body, while also building stronger muscles, bones, and a better relationship with your mind.
We are a mixed modality studio (meaning we have many different types of classes) but we do highlight our love of pilates as a foundation for all that we do. One reason we love Pilates so much is that it’s a modality of mindful movement that lays the foundation for any other style of movement that you want to do. It trains your body to do what it needs to do—even if that’s sitting for long periods of time—in order for you to feel your best.
If you’re curious about mindful movement and want to try a class at The Well, click here to view the studio’s class schedule.
And if you’re looking for a workspace that prioritizes health and well-being for yourself and your team, you’ll find it at And-Co. contact us today to book a tour and learn more about our workspace.