The vast majority of people today spend huge amounts of their daily life sitting. We sit while we study, work, eat, commute to our jobs, chat with our friends, etc. Sitting has become more common to us than standing, and we tend to sit as soon as the first opportunity for it arises. It’s what we call the sedentary lifestyle. Some go as far as calling it the disease of the 21st century.
Call it what you may, it doesn’t matter. What matters to us are the consequences of sitting, and those are surprisingly alarming. There are a lot of diseases that come about either directly caused by or closely related to prolonged periods of sitting. We’re talking about heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even cancers in some cases. Not to mention achy backs, joint pains, poor posture, and the like.
Reversing the effects of sitting simply has to be done. Luckily for us, with only a few simple exercises and daily habits, you can get rid of and prevent the negative effects that too much sitting has on our body. Here’s what you can do to give your body some breathing room.
Change sitting positions often
Plenty of us don’t have the liberty to just get up and walk in the middle of the day just to get some blood flowing through our legs. Either because work can’t wait or because you’re in class and the professor is talking to you. Whatever the case, you’re glued to your chair. Don’t worry because there are still some tricks you can pull off.
Once sitting in the same position for a fair amount of time, your body will slowly start dragging down. Your muscles are becoming fatigued and gravity is starting to get you. If this goes on for too long you will go numb in certain parts of your body. You’ll feel tired and in some cases even sleepy. That’s right, your jawning could be because of sitting, and not the lack of coffee. However, there is something you can do to turn that around – just change the way you sit every now and then.
If you like to center yourself a little bit to the left then switch to your right side, if you lean forward while you sit then stretch out, raise your hands and take a deep breath when you can. You get the picture.
People usually do these things subconsciously, but try to do it whenever it comes to your mind. If you can’t make yourself do it then set an alarm for every 30 minutes to remind you. All of these micromovements of your body count too and it won’t feel as bad as being seated in the same position for hours. A little effort is always better than no effort at all.
How do you counter sitting? Just walk. It’s just common sense, nothing else. Walking indeed is one of the best things you can do if you want to counter some of the negative effects of sitting. Especially if you’ve got cold feet, back pain, or a stiff neck.
Your walking sessions should be a bit longer. They don’t have to match the exact number of your sitting hours but they shouldn’t be a minute or two either. Try to walk for at least 20 to 30 minutes every day at a more moderate pace if possible. This should help out with those stiff muscles.
Also, if you don’t have time for a longer session of walking you can always implement a lot of short walking sessions. Even if they are only for a few minutes they still count if you have a lot of them. Your body doesn’t know the difference.
Nothing fights sitting like exercise. There are exercises that mimic the exact opposite of what our body does when seated. Here, we’ll mention two of them which are probably the most useful ones – the pullover and the split squat. The first one is focused on the back and the second one on the legs and hips. Let’s see how you want to use them.
The pullover is useful because it will not only stretch out a variety of your back muscles but will also strengthen them. This is exactly what we need since your back is usually under-utilized since it doesn’t have to work while you sit.
- First, you have to get in your position. Lay face up on a bench, with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
- Then, reach backwards without letting your lower body or hips move, lower your arms back, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows. As the weight above your head starts to move backwards work on releasing your hips and let them slowly move down. This will maximize the stretch
- Laslty, raise the weight to the starting positiong and repeat as many times as it feels comfortable.
Now, let’s take a look at the split squat. The split squat is designed to tackle two of the issues which come with sitting. Short hip flexors and weak glutes. This exercise will fix both of the problems.
- Start from a standing position. Then, take a long step forwards as if performing a lunge. The heel of your back foot should be raised and your knee should go forwards, beyond the heel of your front foot.
- If you have poor ankle mobility this will be a bit tricky. Consider doing this exercise with an object that will provide some balance.
- Keep your torso straight at all times while you slowly move forwards, then push back up.
- You can either complete all your reps on one leg, then switch to the other. Or you can switch the legs during the set.
Adapt your lifestyle
Whenever you find an opportunity try to change your lifestyle. Whether that’s walking to your workplace, going shopping on foot, or having a break during the day just to stand up, raise your hands and stretch out a little bit. Every little thing you can do can and will make a difference. Have no doubts!
The solution to all of our problems only comes about once we’re aware that there is a problem to be dealt with in the first place. Once you see where you’re making mistakes and how sitting is affecting your body you will find ways to correct those mistakes when possible.
For example, if you like to sit with your legs crossed then every time you realize you’re sitting that way do something to change it. This is a poor habit that a lot of us still cling to. The best way to sit is with your both legs straight and feet right in front of you.
As always, thank you for your reading!