I’ve been working in the corporate world for about 8 years and I struggled for a long time with the midday slump. At around 2:30pm a food coma would set in and I’d feel like I needed to tap out for the rest of the day because there was no way I could pay attention. It got so bad that there were times when I started having this feeling at around 10am when I just started my workday.
After a 3 hour meeting one day, my co worker would do a few push ups and squats in the hallway of our office. I thought he had lost his mind, but he seemed super energized when he came back into the office. I started doing something similar with getting my body moving during the day, so I tried a mix of squats, pushups, walks, etc. Nothing completely crazy where I was doing another full on workout, but enough to get my body moving.
The science behind exercise is this: exercise/movement helps memory and thinking with its ability to reduce insulin resistance (which causes that “slump” feeling) and reduce inflammation in the body overall. Moreover, it stimulates the release of growth factors in the brain itself. Basically, it directly affects the health of those brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and the bounty and durability of new brain cells.
Here are 5 simple ways to get your body moving throughout the day when you’re losing concentration, or simply need a break from sitting at your desk to reduce your slump.
Air squats: I do 15 air squats every few hours. Squats help to wake up your entire body as a compound exercise if you’ve been sitting for a long period of time and helps to improve overall circulation. They also increase your leg strength and mobility, which assists in making the communication between your brain and muscles a lot better. The other great part about squats is you can basically do them anywhere (which I have).
Push ups: Like squats, push ups are a compound exercise because they work multiple muscle groups. When you’re using multiple muscle groups, your heart needs to work harder to deliver blood to muscle tissue. Ultimately, this results in an effective cardiovascular exercise, which supports heart health. Push ups also build core strength. This is important for overall posture as you’re sitting at a desk all day because by holding your shoulders and back, your entire core must be strong enough to support its vertical positions. These are harder to do in the middle of an office, but if you can find a secluded space then that’s a plus. Or you can say “fuck it I’m doing push ups in the middle of the office and everyone will watch me!”
Scaling the stairs: I live and work in a high rise building in NYC, so I have plenty of opportunity to get moving by walking up and down a few flights of stairs. Doesn’t need to be a sprint up and down the stairs, but even if you’re going at a slow pace you’ll still feel the effects. Even if you only have 1 step, going up and down a single step for a minute or two will give you the same benefits.
A leisurely walk: I love walking. I’ve done so many laps around random NYC parks I could give tours. What I love about walks is the ability to slow down your mind, while also getting your body moving to get the benefits of exercise. Take some deep breaths and walk around noticing your surroundings that you normally wouldn’t recognize.
Kettlebell swings (advanced): This type of movement really uses every part of your body if done correctly. A study conducted by the American Council on Exercise found that kettlebell training (in general) can increase aerobic capacity, improve dynamic balance, and dramatically increase core strength. Since kettlebell swings combine both cardio and strength training, this type of movement is one of the best for your heart.
What’s your favorite way to get moving during the day?