Wellness Champion Martina Jackson is a great resource for health and wellness articles, so I was not surprised at the timeliness of a news story she sent me last week that focused on a unique way of incorporating exercise into the workday. Washington Post fitness columnist Vicky Hallett is on a year-long quest to create a healthier office environment, and her article “Centeredbeing: Getting exercise at your desk” detailed a “mindful movement system that’s designed to fight sedentary behavior and stress.” The Centeredbeing program combines moves from yoga and pilates – and an office chair – to create a workout that can be done in short bursts at your desk, so there is no excuse for not having time to fit physical activity into your day. The Centeredbeing movement fits nicely into the principles of the Step It Up! walking campaign in that it encourages thinking creatively to fit in activity whenever possible. Every bit of activity counts, and you don’t need to be active for long periods of time all at once in order to see health benefits. Mindful stretching activities are also great stress-reducers, as they can help you step away from your work and refocus for a few minutes at a time, without taking too much time away from your job duties, since they can be done right at your desk. Stretching, like other forms of exercise, triggers the release of endorphins, positive mood chemicals within the brain, so even a short burst of exercise will leave you feeling a little less stressed.
Several agencies are ahead of the game when it comes to daily stretch breaks, and from the feedback I have heard, their employees are reaping the benefits of a little extra movement during the day. The Executive Office of Elder Affairs has a daily Stretch & Smile program, Department of Career Services employees “Stand & Stretch” every afternoon, and the Group Insurance Commission has “stretch at your desk” breaks (often accompanied by fun music!) several times each day. If your agency has a daily stretch break, I’d love to hear about it. And if it doesn’t, I’d encourage you to try and incorporate some sort of stretching or movement into your day – your body, and mind, will thank you!