Living an anti-sitting lifestyle is difficult and sometimes you cannot get away from work or have no time to train before or after work due to early mornings, late nights, or a lack of energy. You go straight from the car to the office chair, back to the car, and home to bed or the couch.
That’s a lot of sitting, which can harm our health and posture. There was a line of thinking a while back that sitting was the new smoking. The thought may be a bit extreme, but sitting too much does have a significant effect on your health. A 2010 paper by the American Cancer Society, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, said that women who were inactive for six hours a day were 94% more likely to die of complications from obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Plus, men who were inactive for six hours per day were 48% more likely to die than their standing counterparts.
Pretty damning, right? But wait, there is more. Sitting too much during your workday may cause sucky posture too.
THE THING ABOUT POSTURE
Sitting too much during your workday and looking at your cellphone, tablet, and computer while working are the leading causes of the dreaded text neck (forward head posture) and the rounded shoulder look. Trust me when I say this is not anyone’s best look.
When you’re in this posture, without going to the gym or sitting up regularly, the upper back muscles become weak and inhibited, resulting in a loss of strength and mobility in the upper body. Studies have shown that forward head and rounded shoulder posture is linked to tension headaches and decreased lung capacity, which can cause problems with inhaling and exhaling air.
Granted, this doesn’t happen overnight, but it is something to keep in mind when sitting too much and you’re too busy to go to the gym. This is when you need to bring the gym to you.
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL WITH STANDING MORE AT WORK?
A study by Carrie Schmitz, senior manager at Ergotron, claims that if you stood instead of sitting for an extra three hours a day, you could burn over 30,000 calories in a year—or about eight pounds of fat. Not too shabby for just lifting your butt out of a chair.
Standing more at work helps your core strength, posture, and balance but don’t go crazy. Standing too much can lead to leg fatigue and lower back problems because gravity constantly acts on the spine.
So, let’s combine the calorie-burning power and health benefits of standing with a routine that will keep you on the straight and narrow when you don’t have time for your usual workout.
THE ANTI-SITTING WORKOUT ROUTINE TO GET YOU OUT OF YOUR OFFICE CHAIR
Using your body weight and maybe adding a resistance band or two that you can stash in your desk, you can get a short workout while garnering a few weird looks from your co-workers. Don’t worry about what they think because you are being awesome and proactive with your health.
Let’s start with a simple warmup you can perform at your desk, wearing your work clothes if you wish.
- Crocodile breathing: 6 reps
Lie facedown with your hands under your head. Breathe deeply into your belly and exhale.
Lie on your back with knees above hips and hands above shoulders. Extend right leg in front and left hand behind while breathing out. Then repeat this on the other side and keep alternating for 6 reps on each side.
- Hip extensions with reach: 5 reps on each side
Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and arms by your side. Perform a hip extension and reach with your right hand to the left-hand side of the floor. Then come down and up again and repeat the reach on the other side.
- Six-point rocking:10 reps
Begin on your hands, knees, and toes with your head up. Rock your butt to your heels and then back to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.
- Half kneeling hip flexor stretch: 30 seconds on each side
Begin in half kneeling position with the knee under the hip and the ankle under the knees. Squeeze your butt, breathe normally for 30 seconds on each side, and repeat on the opposite side.
FIVE ANTI-SITTING EXERCISES THAT CAN BE DONE AT YOUR DESK
Here’s a five-exercise circuit you can perform at your desk to help keep you on the straight and narrow while undoing some of the damage from sitting. Depending on your time, two to four circuits should do.