” When bored of sitting, move! When bored of moving, sit! Balance your life or there will remain neither moving nor sitting. Only failing.”
In history, sitting was a position for rich people. A chair was a way to show status, especially chair with a high backrest element. Hard-working people sat on some “hard-core” bench, stump or the ground, never spending too much time on it and constantly moving. Did the old-timers know something or life taught them how to stay healthy?
Is sitting bad for your health?
If I weren’t sitting I would never kiss my first girlfriend 😉 Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing terrible in sitting, but too much of it is going to kill you. You won’t know until your health goes away, disappear and your entire body becomes sedentary as a result of not much moving.
Global studies show, on average we sit 7,7 hours per day and a lot of people >10 hours. It sounds too much, but you’re sedentary when you having breakfast, commute to work, sitting at the office, during the break, having lunch, commuting back to home, having dinner, watching TV/gaming, surfing the internet…that’s a lot. All day, almost every day and you hear stories about how harmful it is and start to wonder “How much of sitting can my body take until something goes wrong?”
Research from Martha Grogan, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, USA brings out a list of most often diseases. Some of them. . . Obesity, high blood pressure and high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels are the first ones. For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as with smokers.
Even the most advanced office chairs can’t reverse the force of gravity. When you are sitting, you are putting almost twice the stress on your spine as you would if you were standing. There are various electric height adjustables for ordinary sitting desks, that can change position and keep you active.
Note: Monitor your fatigue level throughout the day. When you start to feel it, change your position.
The key solution for sedentary jobs
There is no absolute sitting position in which your health or spine will stay safe. The solution here is to move constantly, and it’s possible even in your office. If you were standing, have a sit, and other way around. It could be strange because you will use muscles that you haven’t used ever during your office job.
When standing, use some comfortable shoes or floor mat because it will reduce fatigue, increases stability and release leg or joint pain. Avoid shoes without heels as well as high heels (ladies).
Dr. Benno Nigg, a professor at the University of Calgary in Alberta, explains that standing alone (standing desks) on a firm surface for periods of time is not ideal because certain parts of your body will bear the entire burden of standing. On the other hand, standing on a soft mat provides an unstable base that requires your muscles to change their activity and move from time to time.
This will take off pressure from some areas of your anatomy.
When you stand on a soft mat, small muscles crossing the ankle joint are being exercised, improving your stability in general. While standing by your desk, you should develop a habit of doing some movement exercises, like raising the forefoot and balance on the heels.
Try to stand for a minute on one foot (like a flamingo).
I know, I know…you will tell me that you don’t have a habit to do that all at once, but try step by step, day by day. Little movements could mean so much in saving your mobility for your older days.
Did you hear when seniors are saying that they can’t go uphill, or to tie their shoes, or having cramps in their upper leg that are coming from nowhere?! Think about the future.
There isn’t the best shoe for walking or standing. What is comfortable for some people, won’t be for others. For those of you who suffer legs pain, I can suggest customized shoe inserts. They are created to correct the mechanical alignment of the foot.
I have been wearing them since I was 10 years old, and they can go to any shoes or snickers. Nowadays I can stand or walk longer with them, and my legs recover faster from working in the garden or the countryside. For those of you who are transitioning from sitting to standing or doing both, you should wear a shoe with plenty of room in the toes department so the foot can move.
Note: Check with your orthopedic doctor first.
For someone with the sore flat feet, shoes with the supportive arches would probably be the best.
Pick a pair of shoes that are comfortable for you. After using them for a while, pay attention to how your feet feel.
If you can, make your desk job transformable! Changing behavior takes time and little effort.
I know how it feels. You were doing something for years and now you must change it. Sometimes it feels like you are still a kid and someone is saying: “you are not doing it right”. It sucks!
Standing in your office while working has its benefits. In one research participants who used an active standing, desk showed a definite mood boost, less fatigue and less yawning. Aside from that, you are going to burn more calories, increase good cholesterol and save your health. Do some 30 min sitting and 30 min standing, move your legs, foot, and butt all the time.
A study published in the European journal of cardiology reports that the ability to stand up from a seated position without using any supports correlates with longer life expectancy.
Getting up from a sitting position requires flexibility and body strength. A person who is bound to the chair and has a hard time to stand up from the sitting position is 6,5 times more likely to die within the next 6 years. Participants ranged in age 51-80 years. How fast can you get up from the seated position?
All day sitting vs. hips
Aside from the obvious, there is more harmful influence from sitting, including undermining influence on hips and psoas muscle (the longest muscle in our body that connects the upper body with legs). It controls our ability to sit, stand, twist, reach, bend, walk and take steps.
Do you know where is located?
On the other hand, hips contain all of life’s movement and ultimate power. Hip region is home to over 15 defined muscles and surrounding bones. In order for each muscle to properly move, they must be permitted to do so. By sitting all day, you are cutting down their function and autonomy. Furthermore, they are stabilizing the spine and have an optimal postural alignment function.
Bad function + poor movement = low energy
Why do I have belly fat ?
To put it simply, psoas muscle is the core of activity in your body. So when is out of balance (not moving), there are serious consequences which flow throughout the body. One “action” is sworn enemy – sitting! Psoas muscle is deeply connected to our survival instinct known as “fight or flight”. It instantly tightens in moments of great danger to protect you or to fuel you up with adrenaline and help you escape.
And this is important: If your muscle hip is tightened all the time, it signals your body that you are in danger (even if you are not) all the time. Your adrenaline gland is overworking, the immune system suffers, and the body goes into a fat storing mode. Simple!
You won’t resolve this situation by hitting the gym. Why not? In the gym you work your core and legs/arms muscles, repeating the same pattern of sitting. Standard crunches and push-ups aren’t going to help you with this.
The frustrating thing is, even if you have time to exercise before or after work, you still aren’t offsetting the adverse effects of being sedentary. Later, in the post, I will show you exercises that will loosen up your hip muscles. I’m doing them, so I know they work.
When you are sitting for too many hours, your muscles will become shorten in their length. You can never really stand up all the way. Many businesses are aware of this issue. Standing/sitting desks are an excellent start, but the action is needed. Keep in mind that shortened muscles are the first to tighten under stress and last to let go when the stressful situation is over.
This is why people mysteriously tighten up into pain after dealing with an injury.
So, I have to do. . .what?
It’s easy to forget that your body is intended for more or less movement. We are designed neither to sit regularly neither to stand constantly. Interrupted sitting is the one that counts. Pay less attention to how many hours are you sitting and more on how often you interrupt that sitting. Standing all the time is a terrible idea too. If you ask hairdresser, retail employee or nurse, there are all kinds of consequences of many hours of standing at the job. Interrupting the sitting is not necessarily walking; it’s the change in posture that matters.
Center of inflammation and metabolism in Copenhagen, Denmark provided us with considerable evidence of the positive effects of breaking up prolonged sitting on a metabolic outcome. However, it seems that type, intensity, and frequency of physical activity may differ according to subjects, characteristics and physical activity level during the day. An experiment was conducted during 8-9 hours with a breaking pattern every 20/30 minute for 2 minutes. It is possible without disturbing or impairing cognitive capacity to make cardiometabolic parameters better.
Sitting & your sex life
This one affects men since they are performers in the bedroom. When I think, it affects ladies too, with tight muscles in the hip area. So, men. . . your hips will become fixed in a forward thrust position. This will cause the hip socket to become compressed leading to pulling and shifting on joints and muscles pulling on the lower back. This situation decreases blood flows and circulation.
Sitting and bad circulation in your hips means the poor performance of your male member.
It’s important to pay attention to other poor circulation symptoms that may indicate more serious health problems. However, issues with erectile dysfunction may be helpful because they can appear before severe vascular problems. Men drivers may encounter low testosterone and early ED from the same old – prolonged sitting.
A tight hip isn’t just a physical limitation, but it’s also an emotional one. Hips are the primary movers in sex and we want them to loosen up in order to achieve good sex dynamic and power.
Another “joy” from sitting. This one is an orthopedic shoulder condition, which causes aren’t clear enough. But in plain words…it’s an accumulation of calcium in dominant shoulder. In the initial stage, it begins the conversion of tendon cells in cartilage cells.
The primary place for calcification is tissue that has a low network of blood vessels (reduced transport of O2), then it grows until a certain size is achieved becoming crumble lime and later is much denser. It holds back tendon’s slipping function and causes pain. There are various treatment methods, from corticosteroids, cryotherapy, thermotherapy, electrotherapy, acupuncture, radio waves, but massage and physical therapy are giving the best result.
One of my friends had it. In the situation of reduced movement of his dominant hand (only for computer mouse movements), and body in general, it became a problem.
So remember this: move your “mouse shoulder” more often! 🙂
Word seiza literally means correct sitting. You seat with knees together or slightly V-shaped, back straight and buttocks resting on ankles. Seiza is a part of Japanese culture and is designed to make people maintain discipline. At seiza sitting the whole body is positioned for correct breathing.
That places seiza ahead of any other sitting positions, no matter how modern and technically developed some chairs are. Seiza allows the spine to use its full mobility potential, elasticity, and softness. The knees in that position are safely and adequately locked, so their function is in no danger in any way.
This kind of sitting requires time to develop, but you can do it every day 15 minutes after lunch. It is suitable for digestion, stretching ligaments and tendons and gives you a calming feeling.
How to deal with more sitting and no time?
We are all wrestling with big problems.
How do I get my work done?
How do I attend to my family and relationships?
You will try to fit them all, but you see them as isolated things. The first thing could be “work”, pick up kids (the second thing) go to grocery store (the third one), going to get my exercise, going to the pool and so on. . . All those are taking you away from friends and family.
How to do all that?
The problem is, you are trying to put everything in a separate block but if you think about it, in nature everything is in one block.
So try this instead. . . sometimes it’s just 20-minute walk to the store (not by car). But its 20-minute walk with your kid, carrying him/her, groceries and walking at the same time. Can you see the difference?
- Use your body (not vehicle) to gather food. Walk to local farm, vendors or grocery store and carry as much as you can back to your house. (If you have back problems, use your bicycle to carry your stuff).
- Chop and stack your wood. Do some gardening around the house. These movements will warm you up several times and break up sitting pattern.
- Wash your car once a week and vacuum. Taking care of your car can be a relaxing and satisfying activity and will make those joints work.
- Clean your shoes (don’t do it in a sitting position).
- After the meal, walk to do local bakery for deserts.
- Don’t use your dishwasher to do the work. Do it manually.
- Brainstorm while walking. It just looses up the mind in the way that you don’t have when you are sitting.
- Climb stairs every time. Take 2 steps at the time, go at a faster rate or carry more substantial items.
What to do to interrupt my sitting pattern?
Since I started to write for my favorite audience, I’m battling with belly fat and fatigue during the day. Some days I’m sitting a vast majority of the day. To preserve my health, I started to do exercises almost every morning, and I’m about to show them to you. Another thing is, using an online timer, which is set to go on every 30 min. So, what I do? When it goes on, I get up and do some exercise ( 1 series, 30 times), and proceed to work. However, every time is different.
If I’m in the mood, I do 5-6 jumping. Orrr, standing up, I eat some fruit.
Believe it or not, non-exercise activities are the foundation of your body tuning. That is the first step. Next one is regular exercise. You build on the foundation. If you understand the basic requirements of the body, and you honor them with simple techniques that only take only several minutes a day, it can have dramatic benefits on your health. (Joan Vernikos, former director of NASA’s sciences division)
Let me show you exercises you can do to loosen up hip muscles. They are a mix of several years of chiropractor experience, yoga exercises, and some sports opinions.
- THE FIRST EXERCISE – Lie down, pull and fold your left leg as much as you can towards your torso. Put your right hand behind head and slowly raise your head toward the knee. Do it other way around too.
10 times each side. Hold 3 seconds.
- THE SECOND EXERCISE – Pull your left leg to extract quad muscle, and raise up a right hand like you are reaching for something. Point heel towards the seated area. Pull as much as you can. If you have poor balance, stand next to the wall and hold to it.
2 times each side. Hold 20 seconds.
- THE THIRD EXERCISE – Kneeling stretch with arm same as in second exercise (This stretch is for the upper quad, hamstrings and hip area)
2 times each side. Hold 20 seconds.
- THE FOURTH EXERCISE – Right leg up, right arm up. try to stuck your right leg to the table. (If you are doing this at home stuck your foot up to the closet) Slowly bend to your left side. This way you are stretching abdominal, leg and most important hip area.
2 times each side. Hold for 20 seconds.
- THE FIFTH EXERCISE – Lie on your back. Put your knees up and foot apart about 30 cm. Slowly drop knees side to side to the floor so you feel hip stretching.
10 times each side. 2 seconds hold.
- THE SIXTH EXERCISE – Rock your hip and try to touch your heels with the seated area. Knees 25-30 cm apart
20 times up and down. Hold 5-6 seconds.
- THE SEVENTH EXERCISE – Arch your back and push your hips in front. This one is great to put hips back in natural position and strength abdominal muscles.
5 repetitions. 2 seconds hold
- THE EIGHTH EXERCISE – Front plank. Lie on your stomach, with arms bent, forearms on the ground. Toes too. Like on the picture. This one will give you a tighter tummy, re-engage flexibility, add support, make proper posture. If you do planks regularly, you’ll find you’re able to sit or stand up straighter then ever.
1 repetition. Hold 20 seconds (to begin with)
- THE NINTH EXERCISE – Side plank. Get into side plank position, then lift your top leg, hold for one count. Lower it, then repeat. Then switch sides.
2 times each side. Hold 5 seconds each
- THE TENTH EXERCISE – Butterfly sitting. This one is for relaxing after plunk exercises. Sit with your spine erect and legs spread straight out. Now bend your knees and bring your feet towards the pelvis. Grab your feet tightly with your hands. Then rest your hands on ankles.
1 time. hold 5 minutes. Do some belly breathing
- THE ELEVENTH EXERCISE – Hip bridge exercise. Lie on your back and keep your hands by your side. Your knees should be bent and feet flat on the ground. Now, keep your abs tight and gently lift your butt and chest off the ground.
Repeat 10 times. Hold 20-30 seconds.
Do this exercises in the morning before breakfast. It takes 20 minutes or so…
If you are interested to stay healthy, you must find the time and be physically active. Don’t play all or nothing. Try taking one baby step at the time. In the end, it’s all about making your body better and healthier “machine”. You can and you will do some everyday movements as your parents and grandparents did. Figure out new ones, because they can literally save your lifestyle. To get the benefits, these activities must be spread throughout the day and there are plenty of movements for you to make.
Simply standing up 30 times/day is a powerful antidote and effective as much as walking. Your lifestyle determines how quickly your body ages. The hardest part is to keep remembering yourself.