with Eric Keene, PT, DPT, CFMT, CSCS
It’s that time of year. The back to school commercials are in full swing and everyone is excited to go out and pick up their fresh supply of Ticonderoga Pencils, loose leaf paper, and Trapper Keepers (was that just me?). Of course, school is a wonderful thing; but, sitting for hours on end in class and studying isn’t always great on your body.
Some of the most common issues we see here at Elite Health Services are back pain, neck pain, knee pain, and shoulder pain. The lifestyle of sitting can greatly exacerbate or contribute to any of these issues. Without further ado, here are my top 6 practical ways to stay strong and healthy when returning to the studying lifestyle:
Your best posture is your next posture.
Sitting has been called the new smoking – it’s bad. With that being said, think back on a time where you may have had to stand all day… remember how great it felt to sit down? Sitting can be good. But, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Don’t sit too much, don’t stand too much. It’s a simple concept; however, just because it’s simple does not mean it’s easy to execute. When you sit down to study, set a 45 minute alarm on your phone. Work your butt off for that 45 minutes. When it goes off, get up and give yourself a 5 minute break, and then get back to it. You’ll focus harder knowing that you’re on the clock!
The first rule is to get up every 30-45 minutes. But, sometimes we’re in a situation where we cannot get up (classroom.. movies.. a great episode of Walking Dead). Sitting efficiently will help you to sit comfortably for longer. Simple suggestions would be to sit about a fists width away from the base of the seat, push your feet lightly into the ground, and with your rib cage stacked over your pelvis in a relaxed position.
Plan Time for Exercise.
When you make your weekly schedule, write in time for exercise. It does not have to be every single day. Just block one hour 2-4 times a week for some form of exercise that you enjoy. Whether it is running, strength training, sports, or flailing your extremities wildly (not recommended), just make sure you are moving.
Every Little Bit Helps.
Let’s say that you have a really busy day and even though you planned in exercise you are not able to do it. For that day, try to work extra movement into your day. After a few bouts of 45 minutes of studying, perform some body weight exercises of squats, lunges, light jumping, or push-ups during your break. Of course… you’re tired from studying. But, the extra movement may just elicit the right amount of extra bloodflow you need to keep your focus.
Plan your Meals.
Think about this: we generally eat 3 meals a day 7 days a week; which comes out to 21 meals a week. If you plan your breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Monday through Friday, you’re consuming 18 out of 21 meals in a healthy way. That is a great way to set yourself up for success and avoid making poor choices due to starvation. Block out a few hours on Sunday to grocery shop for the week and cook in bulk. This does include a bit of prep work. Pick up 5-10 lunch sized tuperware the size for one meal and plan it out.
Find Time for Play.
School can be stressful. Make time for fun!