On average, I probably sit at my computer 35 hours a week. Some days are longer than others, but seven hours a day is the average.

The number of hours I spend in sessions has steadily increased throughout my career as my responsibilities have changed and virtual working has become the norm. But I found a few ways to stay active throughout the day.

This week, I’ll share some tips on “intentionality” when it comes to physical activity during the workday.

The Oxford Dictionary defines intentionality as “the quality of mental states (eg, thoughts, beliefs, desires, hopes) that consists of being directed toward an object or state of affairs”. In other words, it’s about making a conscious choice. The interesting part of the definition is that the “action” is not found. It’s all psychological, but that’s exactly where physical activity begins – with a decision.

Deciding to be active while working in a sedentary position is not easy. Getting away from the computer sometimes feels like leaving a one-year-old behind in a stroller. Even if the baby is sleeping, he can wake up screaming at any time because he is hungry, hot, cold or simply in a bad mood. But nowadays, the phone is an extension of the computer, and vice versa. So I can retrieve calls, emails and instant messages from my mobile device.

Unless I’m typing a long document or working in an app that requires a lot of typing, I can still communicate and get things done on my phone. I’m not as efficient, but it’s good enough to get away from my desk for half an hour.

Every day I try to do my big workout before the work day starts. (I’ve talked about this in previous columns, along with all the benefits of morning workouts.) Once that’s done, I can sit down and be really productive during the morning. But around 10 a.m. my back and legs stiffen and I need a bit of activity.

I’m going to get up, walk outside and stretch. This mid-morning break lasts about 15 minutes. I also stretch at my desk about every 30 minutes.

At lunch, I’ll go out to get the mail. If the weather’s good, I might take a drive down the cul-de-sac and open some of this mail.

Lunch is quick, maybe 20 minutes, then I go back to the office. For the next two hours, I’m focused on work without distraction. Mid-afternoon is a good time to take a break, though. Around 3 p.m. I go for another walk outside with my dogs and stretch. I try to get some afternoon sun on my face and drink lots of water.

After another short work session, I rarely log out and log back in. In fact, I really don’t set foot in my office the rest of the evening unless there’s something urgent and unusual.

For me, this program works pretty well. With my training included, I’ll take about 8,000 steps a day. If I don’t work, I take maybe half of that total. So the morning workout is the key to my whole physical activity intentionality plan.

And every morning, I find myself making that decision, one way or another.

This week’s exercise is a perfect complement for someone who works out in a seated position and wants to escape back stiffness by intentionally avoiding it. The Torso Twist office chair is easy, efficient and suitable for all fitness levels.


[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » arkansasonline.com/613master/]

1. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your knees at 90 degrees. Sit up very straight and engage your abs.

2. Extend your arms and hands in front of your chest (think zombie walking).

3. From there, slowly move your hands to the right while keeping your lower body absolutely still. Don’t let your feet or knees move, wiggle or drag.

4. Continue twisting to the right until you feel slight discomfort, then hold this position for 3 seconds.

5. Slowly move the hands and arms to the center, then as far as possible to the left. You should feel a nice stretch in your spine. Hold the position for 3 seconds on the left side.

6. Continue this pattern until you’ve completed four stretches on each side.

The Torso Twist office chair is a lifesaver for those long working days. It breaks up bad posture, reduces pressure on the spine and forces some abdominal engagement. I couldn’t go a day without playing this one. Enjoy!

Director of Business Development and Population Health Solutions for Quest Diagnostics, Matt Parrott started this column 20 years ago in Little Rock. He holds a doctorate in education (sports studies), a master’s degree in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

[email protected]