by Kimberly Spencer of Fitness with Kim
Humans now sit, on average, for 9.3 hours a day! Even if you exercise daily, you are still putting yourself at risk for numerous health problems. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology of over 100,000 US adults, scientists discovered that, regardless of exercise, those who sit for more than six hours a day have a 40 percent higher chance of dying in the next 15 years than those who sit for less than three hours a day.
We are killing ourselves… slowly. It’s time we start saving ourselves from our seats. Here are four secrets to save yourself from the effects of sitting:
Sit with Good Posture
Good posture must be practiced. It’s easy to slump and slouch in your chair, but bad posture has many long lasting and very detrimental health effects. It isn’t until years down the road when you start to feel the chronic neck pain and tight upper trapezius muscles. By then, it could be too late to reverse your years of bad posture. Bad posture can also lead to numerous internal health problems like digestive and breathing issues from your chest collapsing forward.
To save yourself, sit upright with your feet planted on the floor. Keep your shoulders back and spine tall. If you fee yourself rounding forward and hunching in your chair, get up and…
The best way to combat the effects of sitting is to move throughout the day. Try to get up and move after every 50 minutes of work. This will also increase your productivity if you set yourself on a regular movement schedule in 50 minute blocks of time.
Take walking meetings instead of sitting in a boardroom. Walk to lunch instead of eating at your desk. Moving will help increase synovial fluid in your hip joints and spine, which supplies oxygen and nutrients while removing carbon dioxide and metabolic wastes from your cartilage. In fact, genius Apple creator, Steve Jobs, was known for his long walks and walking meetings. If Steve Jobs can revolutionize the technology industry with walking meetings, think of how your work productivity can improve just by moving more throughout the day!
Even if we sit with good posture and move, we must also stretch. Sitting causes your joints and muscles to become stiff. Focus on your hip flexors, hamstrings, and spine. Remember to be gentle with your body, when you first start stretching, especially if you’ve been immobile in your chair for a few hours. Most importantly, though, breathe into the stretches and pay attention to your muscles as you stretch. Here are three of my faves that you can do at your desk.
- Hamstrings: throw your leg up on your desk, square your hips toward the lifted leg and then lean your upper body forward toward that leg. Switch legs and repeat.
- Hips: lunge forward with one leg, stretching the opposite leg behind. With an exhale, tuck your hips forward, pull your tummy in and reach your back heel toward the ground. This will stretch your lower abs, hip flexors, and psoas, which all get tight while seated. Switch legs and don’t forget to breathe.
- Spine: stand with your feet separated hip width distance. Inhale then drop your chin to your chest. Exhale allow your upper body to “roll down” one vertebrae at a time until your hands are dangling for your toes. This stretches your neck, spine, and hamstrings. Breathe deeply while dangling and let gravity do most of the work. When you’re ready, on an exhale, roll your spine upright starting from your tailbone and ending at the crown of your head. Imagine as you roll upright that each vertebrae is stacking on top of the other.
Drink Lots of Water
Keep a large bottle (at least 1.5 liters at your desk). Water helps maintain your body’s natural balance of fluids, increases your metabolism, energizes your muscles, and refreshes your skin. So drink, refill, and repeat! Walking to the water cooler will also help you move more throughout the day. In fact, in high performance specialist Brendon Burchard’s book, The Charge, he actually recommends drinking six liters a day! That’s 3 refills for your desk bottle.
Your kidneys will thank you for the daily water cleanse, and your body will be grateful for the additional bathroom breaks that get you out of your chair.
Save yourself from the effects of sitting, and enjoy all your future holiday seasons by practicing these four steps today. Share this now to save a family member for future holidays as well!