The new health campaign making the rounds is the war on sitting. From the moment we wake up in the morning, our day is filled with sitting and much too much of it. Now, I don’t think we need to declare war. After all, I’m an advocate for peace. I think, rather, a compromise should be negotiated.
It is true that humans are designed to be upright on two legs. If we don’t resolve this issue, we could evolve into a completely different species! It is highly unlikely that our culture is going to significantly change any time soon, so, as an intelligent species, we must discover methods to help us adapt our culture of sitting to be less harmful to a creature designed to stand and walk around on two legs the majority of the time.
There is not much one can do about the sitting business involved in driving a car or riding the subway. One must simply sit. However, once a person arrives at the office there are all sorts of great ideas that can be implemented to avoid resting on our tooshies about eight hours every day.
And if you argue against changing work habits because you hit the gym, read on. The research is in and definitive. Working out for an hour three to four times weekly is not enough. Dedicated fitness enthusiasts that sit at a desk eight hours a day are still suffering heart disease, diabetes, unhealthy weight gain, higher risk of certain types of cancer and hypertension. Although regular exercise is critical to minimize the ill effects of conditions such as this, on the whole people are still sitting way too much for regular workouts alone to prevent such health problems. The design of the human body is for movement and move we must do. We simply must just all get off our duffs.
Redesigning workspace and rethinking how we go about our daily work routine can go a long way to re-introducing movement back into our lives. If you can afford it, invest in a standing desk or workstation. Set up task stations that you can move back and forth between. Opt for a rolling laptop table with a telescopic pedestal that can be raised to a suitable height to work at standing. The table can be rolled around the room to allow for more movement than simply standing while you work. By moving around and changing the physical perspective, creative inspiration can be enhanced.
When you field telephone calls and read paperwork get up, walk around, do some knee bends. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy some movement while at the same time being productive.
There are also some simple exercises that can be done while sitting. These exercises will help thighs, glutes and triceps get some action even if they are stuck sitting at a desk all day long.
- First, scoot to the edge of the chair and bend your knees slightly with your feet flat on the floor.
- Place hands on the edge of the chair just below the hips and slightly bend elbows
- Squeeze knees and buttocks tightly while pushing hands down firmly on the sides of the chair until elbows are extended. You don’t have to actually raise your bottom from the seat of the chair, simply sit up taller and straighter. Hold for ten seconds and repeat until a set of ten is complete.
- Seated jumping jacks create the opportunity for movement and cardio. Sit tall in your chair with knees bent and slightly touching, heels raised off the floor and toes pointed and touching the floor.
- With elbows bent, hold arms with palms turned forward.
- In rapid succession, open legs out to the side, flexing the feet so that they land heel to floor. At the same time extend arms over your head. Return to starting position and repeat until a set of thirty is complete.
If you are glued to a desk eight hours a day there is no reason you simply have to sit there the entire time. Rethink your work habits and get creative finding ways to introduce more movement into your day. Your back, hips and many other body parts will thank you.