Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? This is seriously scary when you consider that people who work in an office sit the majority of the time. This doesn’t even factor in your commute time or the time you sit on the couch at the end of the day watching TV.
When you sit for 6 to 8 hours a day your muscles adapt to that position. You’ll find over time that your hamstrings are tighter as well as your back and shoulders. This can lead to an increase chance of injuries, not just from working out, but in our daily activities.
Recently there has been a lot of research into the long term effects prolonged sitting has on your health. Sitting has been linked to increase risks for obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, as well as back pain. Being a regular exerciser might not be enough to combat the risk factors of sitting all day. Bottom line sitting contributes to a decrease in your metabolism which can put you at risk for the above mentioned health concerns.
The good news is with a proactive approach you can reduce your health risks by taking regular breaks to move around for a few minutes. Additionally, movement will help keep your stress levels in check, help clear your head, and lead to increased productivity. Here are 4 tips to help boost your metabolism, improve your flexibility, and combat the negative effects of sitting all day.
There is a is a big trend for desks that allow you to work standing up and for good reason. But for many of us that’s not an option, so think about your work duties. Do they really require that you sit down the entire time? Perhaps you can stand up while talking on the phone, sorting your mail or stuffing envelopes. You’ll find more opportunities to stand as you begin to look for them.
Go for a walk
During your break time, get up and move around. Take the stairs and use the bathroom on another floor or take walk around the outside of the building. You’ll find this is not only good for your body, but gives you the opportunity to clear you head especially if you have been working on a intense project.
Uncross your legs and sit up straight
Most of us cross our legs at the knee without even realizing it. If you sit like this for hours all day you are over stretching and putting additional pressure on your hip muscles and sciatic nerve. The correct way to sit is with your feet flat on the floor with your knees slightly lower than your hips. If you are short place a stool, box or couple old phone books under your feet. If you are tall sit on a wedge or cushion to raise your body. Keep your chest elevated and your shoulders back and down.
Make your breaks dynamic
Just three to five minutes of dynamic stretching a couple of times throughout the workday will do wonders to give your legs, hips and back a break from sitting. What is dynamic stretching? Dynamic stretching in simplest terms means that you are moving as you stretch. (It’s also a perfect warm up for running or working out.) Here are a few of my favorites:
- Forward and cross body leg swings – Place one hand on you desk for balance and swing each leg forward and backwards for 10-15 reps. Next swing each leg from side to side for 10 reps.
- Knees to chest – While walking alternate lifting your knee to your chest and hugging your shin.
- Lunges with a twist – Alternate stepping forward and twisting your torso to each side.
- Arm circles – Lift your arms out to your side about shoulder height and move them forward in a circular motion for 20 reps. Start with small circles then gradually make bigger circles. Next repeat circling your arms in the opposite direction.
Try these tips for a week and let me know how you feel. Do you have any tips to offset the effects of sitting all day? If so share in the comments below.