You Need to Do This Workout if You Sit All Day
Whether being glued to a computer screen, lounging on the couch all day, or driving for work, many of us find ourselves simply sitting way too much on a daily basis. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of a sedentary lifestyle, and it takes a conscious decision to roust yourself and turn things around.
The Dangers of Being Sedentary
Something as simple and innocuous as sitting too much couldn’t possibly be dangerous, could it?! Well, actually, the answer is often yes.
1. Weight gain—this may seem obvious, but it’s really easy to gain weight if you sit all day. First, the inactivity becomes a problem as you move less and burn less calories throughout the day. Second, sitting tends to encourage snacking, so less activity coupled with more food is simply a recipe for disaster.
2. Cancers and other diseases—some studies indicate that sitting too much can exacerbate diseases like heart disease, cancer, dementia, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and more. Adding more movement to your day is critical if you want to extend your life expectancy and live more vibrantly.
3. Blood clots—sitting all day can also put you in real danger for blood clots. These are more likely to form when you’re not moving around enough. That’s why doctors recommend getting up and walking around during the day as well as when you’re traveling, especially by air. If a blood clot forms and breaks off, it can travel to your heart, lungs, or brain, potentially leading to a stroke or even death.
How to Get Up and Get Moving
Studies also show that if you get up regularly and move around, you can at least partially counteract some of the ill effects of sitting all day. What should you do?
- Set a timer—yes, you most likely will find yourself absorbed in what you are doing, so setting a timer to remind yourself to get up is an easy fix.
- Stretch—stretching is going to become essential if you sit all day. Just going through the stretching motions several times a day can make a real difference in the way your body feels.
- Consider getting a standing desk—you can benefit from standing more during your work day by investing in a standing desk. Or, if that’s not feasible, try standing, pacing, or walking around while you’re on the phone or reading.
- Be inefficient with your movements—try not to multi-task. For example, instead of printing several files at once, print each one separately and get up every time to take it off the printer.
- Add extra activity to the rest of your day—park further away from everything, take the stairs, fidget, walk around when you’re on the phone or watching television.
The Perfect Workout if You Sit All Day
And, lastly, to make up for at least some of that sitting, try to incorporate a workout like this into your routine. While you should also follow a regular full-body workout program, there are certain parts of the body that need specific attention to counteract the effects of sitting. Your head, neck, and shoulder region is at the top of that list since we tend to slouch forward and roll our shoulders as we work all day. Next, your hips, glutes, core, and lower back also suffer when exposed to excessive sitting. These regions need to be stretched and flexed.
1. Chest Stretch
Start by standing next to a wall or a doorway. Lift your right arm and place your hand and elbow, chest high, on the wall or doorway area. Next, take a slight step forward with your right leg and allow yourself to feel a good stretch throughout your chest area. Lean gently into the stretch for 20 seconds and then release it. Repeat on the opposite side.
2. Neck Circles
Sit or stand and relax your shoulders. Allow your head to gently drop forward until you feel a nice stretch through the back of your neck. Next, roll your head to the right, pause, and then roll it back to center and then to the left. Lastly, look up to the ceiling for a few moments to feel a stretch in the front of your neck area. You can also try simply turning your head and looking to your right and then looking to your left.
3. Spinal Twists
Start by sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Twist your upper body to the right and take your right arm, place it behind your back, and touch the back of your right hand to your left hip. For additional stretching, grab your waist on the right side with your left hand as you turn your head to the right and look behind you. Feel a good stretch and then return to center. Repeat on the opposite side.
Being seated for long periods of time can lead to stiff hips, tight hamstrings, and a tight (and weak) lower back. Undoing this situation requires some active stretching.
4. Hip Flexor Stretch
Begin by lying on the ground with your legs straight. Grab your right leg under the knee and bend it, bringing it up toward your chest area. Hold this position as you feel a stretch through your back and leg. Return leg to the straightened position and repeat on the opposite side.
5. Good Mornings
Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Place a light bar (or something like a broomstick) behind your neck and across your shoulders, placing a hand on each end. Keeping your upper body stiff and your back and neck straight, bend at the waist and lean forward until your torso is parallel with the ground.
6. Hamstring Stretch
Start by standing with your feet about hip-width or wider apart. Fold forward at the waist and allow your arms to drop straight down to the ground. Feel a good stretch through your lower back and the back of your legs. Try swinging gently side to side to further stretch your hamstrings and release any tension in your lower back.
7. Walking Lunges
These will help to loosen up your hips as well. Start by standing with your feet together. Place your hands on your hips or clasp them in front of you, whatever is most comfortable for you. Take a giant step forward with your right foot and bend both knees until they’re bent about 90 degrees. Push off your back leg as you straighten your front leg, and swing the back leg forward and into a lunge on the opposite side. Repeat until you have completed 10 steps on each side.
8. Rear Delts
When you’re sitting all day, you may have the tendency to roll your shoulders and upper back forward. It’s important to strengthen the muscles that will help you pull those areas back into place. Start by grabbing a resistance band at both ends with both hands and your arms straight out in front of you (chest height). Next, keeping your right arms straight, pull the band out to the side and back, using the muscles in the back of your shoulder. Repeat ten times on the right side and then switch to the left side. Note: you can also do this exercise with a light dumbbell while bending over or kneeling on a bench.
9. Face Pulls
These will work the backs of your shoulders as well as your upper back, strengthening your posterior chain so you can keep your posture intact, even with a lot of daily sitting. Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. You can do this on a cable machine at a gym or with a resistance band. Grab the rope ends in each hand and step back so that when you straighten your arms, there is tension. Next, bending your elbows, squeeze the muscles in your upper back and rear shoulders to bring your hands back toward your ears. Hold the pull for a count of five and then slowly return to the start. Repeat 15 times.
And don’t forget to always include your core as well.
Start on your hands and knees. Kick your feet back so your legs are straight and you are up on your toes. Lower yourself onto your forearms and place your palms flat on the ground. Your elbows and shoulders should align. Hold this position for 20 seconds at a time, or as long as you can.