Are you someone who has a tendency to spend too much time in front a computer screen, television, or maybe your eyes are constantly locked on your mobile device? Unfortunately, this lack of activity, or sedentary lifestyle, is now being described as the “Sitting Disease” and it’s spreading rapidly. Just look around – you’re not alone.
Sitting for most of the day may not seem like a workplace hazard or a public health epidemic, but the reality is that this lack of motion is contributing to the overwhelming number of people who now suffer from being overweight or obese. In fact, people who remain mostly sedentary are at higher risk for other non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
Additionally, sitting in the same position all day leads to poor posture, neck and back pain, and overall stiffness. Luckily there is an easy and accessible remedy to reverse the adverse effects of Sitting Disease; EXERCISE. That’s right, exercise is medicine! Even better, it really doesn’t take much at all.
Here are some simple tips to help you combat Sitting Disease:
1. Walk for 30 minutes per day, 3-5x per week. Take two 15-min walks or three 10 min walks. You can walk during your lunch break, or even take an extra lap around the grocery store
2. Choose a parking spot far away from the entrance to get extra steps
3. Take the stairs
4. Set a timer each hour to remind yourself to stand up and stretch
Speaking of stretching, here are some easy stretches that can be performed daily in almost any location. They are meant to help improve poor posture and alleviate stiffness associated with sitting. Remember to work within your limits and do not push to the point of pain. Give them a try and see how you feel! Details about the stretches are below the series of images.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Start by sitting tall at the edge of your seat with your best posture. Extend your left leg in front of you with toes pointed toward the ceiling. Maintaining your posture, hinge at your hips by allowing your chest to move forward until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Remember to breathe and hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Seated Piriformis Stretch
Start by sitting tall at the edge of your seat with your best posture. Cross your left leg over your right and pull your knee towards your right shoulder. You should feel this stretch in the back of your hips. Remember to breathe, and hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Upper Extremity Flossing
Being by standing tall with your best pest posture and your arms out in front as if you’re hold a giant beach ball. As you exhale open your arms, bend your elbows and squeeze your shoulder blades together. If this feels good you can extend your elbows and then your wrists. Take a deep breath in and return to the starting position. Repeat 4-5 times.
Being by standing tall with your best pest posture and your arms by your side. Inhale as you shrug your shoulders up towards your ears. As you exhale, roll your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pause for 1-2 seconds. Release and repeat for 10 repetitions.
Stephanie Grier, MS (Kinesiology and Biomechanics), ATC, CSCS, is a health and wellness expert at digital healthcare company Reflexion Health. For additional tips and her latest insights, please follow her at @stephaniedgrier.