We spend a lot of time sitting. Office chairs, car seats, sofas, dining room chairs… And extensive sitting will do wicked things to your back.
Sitting in chairs — even those with lumbar support — turns the back’s natural “S” curve into a “C” curve which cannot adequately support your body’s weight. It puts pressure on your discs and weakens the core muscles that protect your back.
And what happens when your back hurts? Or when your joints hurt from carrying around extra weight?
You end up avoiding your workouts. Which makes you weaker and more prone to injury. It’s a vicious cycle.
Even if you have a regular exercise routine, it’s probably not enough to counteract a job that has you sitting for most of the day at a desk, in meetings, in traffic…
While medical experts are trying to devise formulas for how long a typical office worker should spend sitting and standing, I can tell you one thing for sure. Sitting all day and standing all day are both bad for you. The key is breaking up your activity throughout the day.
But the good news is that the solution is pretty simple…
Just getting up and moving around a couple of times every hour can make a huge difference, since most of us are sedentary for up to 75% of our waking hours. So, for every half-hour of sitting, stand for eight minutes and then move around and stretch for two minutes. (Standing for more than 10 minutes tends to cause people to lean, which can lead to back problems.)
It doesn’t need to be vigorous — even a gentle stroll has been found to be very effective in eliminating the negative effects of sitting and promoting some of the benefits of physical activity. And there are some very do-able activities that you can do, even in the most traditional of offices.
Various studies have shown that even regular exercise won’t compensate for the negative effects from sitting too much during the day. Sitting causes physiological changes in the body, and may trigger some genetic factors that are linked to inflammation and chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease
If you’re one of the lucky ones who can utilize a standing desk at work, here’s a fun fact for you: Standing burns up to a calorie more per minute than sitting. In four hours, that represents as many as 240 additional calories burned. Now there’s some real incentive to invest in a standing desk!
If you’re already feeling the pain of too much sitting, try these stretches for tight hips to get a little relief.
What are your favorite ways to get up and move during the day? Let us know in the comments below!