Must-Do Moves to Fight the Effects of Sitting All Day

Guest Post from Fitness Magazine


Fight back against your desk chair with these effective moves.

Chilling out in a chair while reading, working, watching TV, driving, having a cup of coffee or doing any number of things might feel like a relaxing way to spend the majority of your day, but all of that sitting may be wreaking havoc on your waistline and your health. In addition to leaving you feeling stiff, achy and inflexible, recent research suggests that sitting down too much also may raise the risk for obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even early death.

While the obvious counterbalance to sitting down too much is standing up more frequently throughout the day, you can also combat the negative effects of having your rear in a chair with simple exercises you can do right at the office, where most of your sitting likely occurs. The average American worker sits for 12 to 15 hours a day, a habit that results in lower energy, muscle atrophy, reduced joint mobility and a saggy rear end, says Jill Miller, the creator of Yoga Tune Up, a fitness program that improves posture and relieves pain.

Fight many of these symptoms with these office-friendly stretches from Miller several times a day. If your chair has wheels, position it against a wall for stability. Or try out some of the new gear that’s come out recently to help encourage people to move more even while sitting at a desk.

1. Breath dive

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale as you sweep your arms overhead and clasp your hands together above you.

Hold your breath for 10 to 15 seconds and tighten every muscle in your body, attempting to pull your hands apart and to spread the floor apart with your feet.

Exhale and return your hands to your sides. Let your breath return to normal, then repeat 10 times.

2. Glute reboot

Stand facing a chair. Hinge at your hips, bend forward and place your forearms on the seat, allowing both knees to bend slightly.

Contract your core and buttocks as you raise your right foot behind you toward the ceiling, keeping your spine neutral. Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly lower. Repeat 5 times, then switch sides and repeat.

3. Hip-flexor stretch

Facing a chair, step your right foot onto the seat and reach forward to rest your hands on top of the chair for stability. Bend your left knee toward the ground while contracting your left gluteal muscles.

Engage your leg and hip muscles as if pulling both feet toward each other.

Brace your core, breathe deeply and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute; switch sides and repeat.

Get-out-of-your-chair gear guide.

Standing and moving are free, but a little equipment can make it easier (and more fun!).

Try an adjustable desk that helps you go from sitting to standing.

Specially made adjustable standing desks make it easy to transition between standing and sitting, increasing the likelihood that you’ll stand up more frequently. Most range from about $250 up, and adjust electronically or via a lever that raises and lowers the desk height as needed. Some are even designed specifically to fit the dimensions of a cubical, leaving you with no excuse for not standing!

Move your feet with a cycling desk.

Laptop users who love indoor cycling can try any range of desks designed to let you pedal while you work. Some versions integrate an entire bike into the setup; others merely supply a pedal-in-place option that slides under your existing desk.

Get deliberately unbalanced with a balance board.

Add a little challenge to your standing hours by spending some of them on a surfboard-inspired device that throws you slightly off-balance to engage the muscles in your legs and core. Hang onto your desk or another solid surface before attempting it solo—the point is to put you off balance in order to engage your core, but it’s all too easy to go sailing off of the board when you’re first learning how to stay upright.


©Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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