Active Sitting Could Improve Your Health With Five Easy Exercises

Patricia Didelot - Author

Sep. 26 2014, Updated 10:27 a.m. ET

If you have a desk job, you should probably think about doing some active sitting, it could greatly improve your health and more importantly, prevent certain undesired conditions.

We all know that sedentary life is not a good thing for our bodies, but millions of us sit at a desk for hours while at work. Sitting for extended periods of time has been linked to an increase risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and early death. Yes, it’s that serious.

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After a long, hard day at work, where we sit in front of a computer for eight or more hours per day, many of us want nothing more than to go home, crawl on our comfy couch, grab a (usually unhealthy) snack, and watch movies on TV all night. Think twice about how you are going about your day and you will realize that you are doing yourself no favors.

In a piece published on Q by Equinox, Vladimir Friedman, DC, CCSP, of Accelicare Sports Chiropractic in Manhattan explains what happens when we are not active while sitting.

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“When you’re in an improper slouched or seated posture for extended periods of time, there is physiological change in the body. In addition to the proven disease risks, things start to lock up. Tissues can weaken and the effects can be degenerative.”

“Movement brings hydration and nutrients to the tissue and activity keeps it healthy, so even though our jobs and evolving ‘mobile’ technologies are making us more prone to sit and press buttons, we need to think actively and sit actively.”

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Active sitting is not hard. It really isn’t. It involves moving throughout the day and doing certain exercises that don’t require much space or equipment. Friedmans active sitting guideline consist of five simple moves you can do during your work day.

Rolling your feet on a massage ball (most cost under $20) or frozen water bottles improves circulation on your ankles and calves. This aides your feet, which can really get stiff with sitting for a long time.

In this active sitting technique you take your shoes off and roll the ball back and forth, over the arch of the foot. This is great to increase circulation.

Wall squats improve circulation and prevent degeneration in your legs and thighs. To do this activity put your shoulder blades and lower back against a wall, lower your hips and knees until they are at a 90-degree angle. Hold for a minute and repeat three-times.

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Do a lunge to stretch those quads and hips. Sitting for a prolonged period of time shortens the hip flexors, so you need to work on these muscles. This active sitting exercise is similar to those done by athletes as they get ready for a race. Take a step forward with either leg and place it at a 90-degree angle, while the other knee stays above the ground behind you.

Reverse the slouching position we fall into while sitting. Place your tailbone on the edge of your seat, leaving your arms at your sides, open your chest and rotate your hands out, bringing your shoulder blades closer together, additionally widen your hips by rotating your feet out. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.

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Finally, another active sitting exercise is extending your back. In a standing position, place your hands on your lower back, gently lean back as far as you comfortably can (be careful not to overextend your back). Repeat 10 times, twice per day.

As with any exercise regimen, if you have questions you should first check with your physician. But for most adults, these active sitting movements can help reduce the stress put on the body by working at a desk for eight or more hours per day and improve their overall health.

[Image via Shutterstock]


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