The allure–and alignment–of online shopping

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

As Thanksgiving and its mixed-blessing leftovers finally receded into a gastronomic memory, we now turn our thoughts to the next important task on the calendar: holiday shopping. If you are like me and don’t relish the thought of fighting crowds, neither in the malls nor in their parking lots, cyber-shopping comes to the rescue. While purchasing online may seem like the answer to escaping holiday madness, it too is fraught with its own unique set of problems.

Sitting at the computer for hours on end can wreak havoc with good posture.  I always start out my computer sessions with the best of intentions, only to realize that as the minutes begin slipping away, so does my posture! Before I know it, I am slouching, which we all recognize as a sure invitation for neck cramps and lower back pain later in the day.

If we pay as much attention to our body mechanics as we do to the fabulous online sales, we can make great strides in fending off aches and pains. As you wait for the computer page to “accept” your credit card information, focus on pulling the abdominal muscles in towards your spinal cord, while keeping your chin pointing toward the middle of your computer screen.  Breathe as normally as possible, and allow your mind to relax as your abdominals work. 

Taking frequent breaks not only allows your credit card to cool off; it can be helpful in other ways! Stand up and walk around the room, or around the neighborhood if the weather permits.  Returning circulation to your lower extremities will go a long way toward preventing leg cramping.  Periodically rotating your neck from side to side will also help you maintain a sense of body awareness.

Are you deliberating between 2 fabulously priced gift options? Give your shoulders a good shrug; up and down, up and down, imagining the tops of your shoulders brushing against your ear lobes.  Recruit the shoulder blades in the movement as well. Increasing blood flow helps the brain function more effectively, enabling you to make better decisions — as in, NO, you really don’t have to buy three of everything just because the price is unbelievable!

Eye -strain is another common culprit of overextended screen time. After each holiday purchase, lean back in your desk chair and close your eyes for a full 30 seconds. This allows the natural moisture to return to the eye, and the temporary darkness provides a respite from the glare of the computer and its jumble of numbers/words/images.  When you open your eyes again, you just might see something you missed…a too-good-to-pass-up sale price!

Maintaining awareness of your postural health is just as vital to a successful holiday as keeping a close vigil on the best online deals. Happy, healthy cyber-shopping!