Does this look like a typical day for you?
Sitting at breakfast
Sitting in the bus/car
Sitting at the desk
Sitting at lunch
Sitting at the desk (again)
Sitting at dinner
Sitting on the couch, watching TV
Sitting to chatting on the phone, checking social posts
You might do the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week. Yet, your shoulders ache and lower back hurts. Ouch!
What’s the problem with sitting?
Some people have likened sitting to the new smoking – it’s a natural part of our urban lifestyle and so many people do it. So, what’s wrong with that?
Well, first of all, sitting isn’t quite ‘natural’. The human body is designed to be active. Think of how our ancestors lived. They were hunter-gatherers, spending much of their waking hours looking for (and chasing after) food or running away from danger. Today, we don’t do that, neither do we need to grow our own food or walk long distances for survival. Our modern lifestyle has made us sedentary i.e. we are less active and sit down more.
Some of the harmful effects of sitting for long hours
- Sedentary lifestyles are linked to an increase in the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity/weight gain.
- Poor sitting posture leads to neck strain and sore shoulders and upper back.
- Too much sitting can lead to poor blood circulation in the legs, poor spinal disc health and lower back pain.
The problem with prolonged sitting is that your body shuts down when you sit – there is little or no muscle activity. The gluteal (buttock) and the abdominal muscles that you use when you move or stand up ‘fall asleep’ as they are un-utilized, creating an imbalanced core with the lower back over compensating. Your hip flexor muscles become short and tight, decreasing hip mobility and pulling the abdomen forward, causing pressure on the lower back.
Even if you work out twice a week, you can trace your and back pain back to the harmed the that sitting for hours a day causes to your body.
How to combat the effects of sitting too much
Apart from adopting a good sitting posture, getting active and moving around more will help wake those sleeping muscles and keep your joints flexible. Here’re 6 ideas to help you to sit less:
- Get up and move every 1-2 hours to break up extended sitting periods.
- Stand up when using your mobile device.
- Walk while chatting with friends or colleagues.
- Hold standing meetings – you might get more done quicker too!
- Re-activate your glutes before exercise. Exercises include glute bridges, hip extensions and step ups.
- Use your mobile phone to get you mobile i.e. use digital tools to help you exercise anywhere – at home, in the office, while travelling or outdoors.
Our modern ‘sitting’ lifestyle can take a toll on our bodies but, as you can see from our list, there are many simple actions that you can immediately adopt to get up from the chair more often.
Now, are you sitting down reading this article? It’s time to get up and activate those muscles!
Take a sneak peek below at one of our chair-based workouts
Perfect for at home, in the office, when travelling or when you’re just looking to do something different.