5 ways to be more active when you're at a desk job and feel bloated or pain

Whether you work in a cubicle, have a corner office, or work from home, it’s safe to say that we probably all are spending way more time sitting at our desks than anything else. Like even more than sleep.

By now we all know that the ways that our jobs are structured, it’s setting ourselves up for a sedentary life. And a sedentary lifestyle can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure to name a few. Also, if you’re constantly feeling bloated, this could be another sign that you’re not moving around enough.

While this seems to be a fact of life right now, it really doesn’t have to be for long. In the second part of my LA Babe State of Mind series, where I’m talking about the lifestyle and mindset shifts that I experienced in LA that you can experience anywhere too, I’m talking about one of the things that inspired me most about living in LA.

How to stay active when you sit at a desk all day featured on lifestyle blog 45 Fairmount by Monica Woodhams

One of the first things that I noticed after moving back to LA and being in the workforce this time around, was how many of my co-workers seemed to stay really active regardless of spending a ton of time at their desk.

Here are some tips that are simple add-ins to your day that can make you start feeling more active and reversing the side effects of sitting at your desk all day. By the way, “extensive sitting” is considered 6 hours.

Hip Openers / Restorative Yoga

When we sit all day, our hip flexors start to get really tight. Tight hip flexors can lead to lower back pain, knee and joint pain, bad posture, and imbalanced muscle strength. If you’ve been dealing with any of this, a lot of it could be coming from the flexibility in your hips and too much time sitting down.

Tight hip flexors go beyond the physical effects. Our emotions have a tendency to live in our hips as well and it just builds up. So, if you have a really stressful job, there’s a lot going on in your life right now, or there’s trauma or bad experiences that you haven’t completely let go of yet from the past, this could be tensing up your hip flexors as well.

Anger, anxiety and frustration can all manifest themselves in your hips.

How to avoid lower back pain, bloating, and stress from sitting at a desk all day by becoming more active. Includes restorative yoga for relief featured on 45 Fairmount by Monica Woodhams

One of my favorite ways to get a great stretch in and to release the emotions that have built up in my muscles (for me it’s usually in my hips and shoulders) is to go to a restorative yoga class.

Restorative yoga is typically a 1-hour yoga class with dimmed lights where you only do a handful of stretches. The stretches are held for a longer period of time compared to a traditional yoga class. In restorative yoga, the key is not to push yourself to your maximum flexibility (remember it’s about restoring), so a good way to make sure you don’t do this is by feeling what your max is in the position and then backing off a level or two.

If you’re not sure where to take a restorative yoga class, many studios like Core Power offer it a few times a week, download the Mind Body app and search there, Google restorative yoga + your city, or look up some YouTube videos.

Another way to get your stretching in? Stretch each time there’s a commercial break.

If you only have 10-15 minutes a day to add something new to your routine, these are my favorite hip opening stretches:

Supported Wide-Angle Pose

Supta Baddha Konasana 

Reclining Hero Pose

*** Remember when doing these poses it’s not supposed to be a major stretch, use as many pillows and props necessary to feel a stretch but not be hurting. There’s no shame in the prop game, it’s not a reflection of how athletic or not you are, depending on the day I’ll use 3 blocks or just 1 block or 2 blocks and a pillow. It totally depends and is judgement free.

Lifestyle blogger Monica of 45 Fairmount wearing all black athleisure including a cropped Adidas sweatshirt and black Lululemon leggings

Go on a walk

No time to go on a run or workout because you’ll get sweaty and need to shower? How about going on a walk? I LOVE going on a walk after work to decompress, but on the busiest days, I feel like going on a walk during the middle of the day during my lunch break is just as valuable if not more.

Here are some ideas on how you can fit a walk into your day:

  • Call up your BFF or and old friend to see if she wants to catch up, instead of a coffee date, go for a walk
  • Have a meeting while walking. If you need to catch up with a co-worker or have a meeting that doesn’t require being in front of the computer like a touch base, suggest going on a walk. It’ll boost both of your moods and I bet you that your creative juices will really start flowing!
  • Incorporate a walk into date night. Choose a restaurant that’s walking distance or simply go on a walk around the block after leaving the restaurant before heading straight to the car.

Get your co-workers on board / Sit on an Exercise Ball

In one of my first jobs, my co-workers were all about being in shape and we all wanted to help each other do it, so we worked it into our workday. (It really helps when your boss is on board) too.

We all brought in exercise balls and would sit on them for the majority of the day, then in the middle of the day we’d block off 10-15 minutes in our calendar and create stations where we would do an easy strength training or stretching pose that wouldn’t get us sweaty. My friend Noelle (check out her blog here) was great at coming up with these quick and easy workouts.

Can’t get your co-workers on board, you can still use an exercise ball as a chair. I used to alternate between the two and would keep the exercise ball underneath my desk when I wasn’t using it. Benefits include better posture, burn calories, relieve back pain, and tone.

All black athelisure outfit perfect for working out and yoga. Adidas crop sweatshirt and black leggings.
Like I mentioned earlier on in the post, this is the first part of a series called “LA Babe State of Mind.” I’m going to be sharing about the lifestyle changes that I adopted in LA that reduced my anxiety and made my life flow with ease. Check the other post in this series:

THE LIFESTYLE CHANGES THAT MADE ME HEALTHIER

LA BABE TOOLKIT TO BRING OUT YOUR INNER GLOW

5 WAYS TO BOOST ENERGY NATURALLY WITHOUT COFFEE

4 WAYS TO STAY MOTIVATED THROUGH SELF-CARE

Want more ideas on things you can implement no matter where in the world you are? Here’s a free little checklist with 27 things you can do for an LA Babe State of Mind. Click on the checklist below to get access to the PDF!

Download your checklist here!


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