How to Avoid Sitting Syndrome
Did you know that roughly 80% of jobs are now considered sedentary?!
It’s rather quite alarming that a lot of the modern jobs that comprise our workforce involve sitting for most of the day. It is even more eye opening when you consider the sitting time in transit to and from work everyday, only to find workers attached to a chair all day.
According to Stats Canada, the economic impact of physical inactivity can be substantial and has been estimated at $6.8 billion a year due to total health care costs.
It’s time we face this problem head on – we’re addicted to sitting.
Sit less – Move More
Extensive research and studies all point to the fact that sitting for long periods of time raises a number of health concerns, including obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat and abnormal cholesterol levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, it also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
To say that sitting is the new smoking would be an understatement.
Try these top 6 exercises during your day if you sit at a desk all day
1. Give Your Eyes a Break (hello!)
Staring at a computer screen all day can put quite the strain on your eyes. We often go from computer, to tablet, to smartphone to television on a daily basis – without even thinking about it, and this vicious cycle can overwork your eyes leading to tension and headaches. Connective tissue surrounds each eye and runs down into the spinal canal, covering nerves right to the pelvis. So the eyes effect the whole body.
To free up tension behind your eyes, neck, and shoulders, try this simple exercise:
- Look left, look right
- Look up, look down
- Look diagonal – up right corner, down left corner
- Look diagonal – up left corner, down right corner
Repeat this 3x each way, slowly, without moving your head
(Smile a bit – it helps release tension in your jaw)
2. Time to Stretch Out The Spine (rock it!)
Oh, our poor spines when we sit. When we sit for an extended period of time, we place far too much pressure on our discs, which will ultimately cause back pathologies and pain (back pains). The position of the pelvis influences the position of the spine.
So with that in mind, here’s what you can do to help ease some of the stress off of your back – starting with your pelvis.
With this exercise:
- Rest hands and forearms on your desk,
- Rock your pelvis forward and back and let the spine follow,
- Then rock forward, press your hands down and pull your breastbone forward bringing your chin up a little
- Reverse and push down/forward as your pelvis rocks back and round your spine
Repeat this exercise 5x, inhale breastbone forward, exhale round back
3. Wring Out Your Wrists (mobilize!)
When you sit at a keyboard and mouse all day, the repetitive work can lead to rigidity, overuse and inflammation in your wrists. The good news is your can protect yourself against carpal tunnel by mobilizing the wrists and increasing proper blood flow.
Here’s what you can try:
- Make a fist with your hands,
- Curl your fists inwards and reach out through the back of your hands,
- Release your fist and allow your fingers to reach forward, then circle to side, up to the ceiling and then down to floor,
- Make another fist here and reach through the back of your hands.
Repeat this exercise 5x.
4. Hip and Leg (work that glut!)
Now it’s time to stand up and get the circulation throughout your legs and hips.
- Hold onto the table with one hand.
- Place your other hand behind your low back and stand up straight.
- Standing on one leg, bend one knee, flex your foot and push back against an imaginary wall, resisting
- Squeeze your glut.
- And hold this pose for 3 breaths.
Repeat 3 x each side, alternating legs.
5. Give Your Ribs a Big Hug (ahh!)
The “Rib Hug” is a delicious movement for the entire ribcage and the area of the spine that the ribs are attached to: the Thoracic Spine. For this exercise, your elbows will lead the movement.
Here’s what to do:
- Hug yourself (hands on shoulder blades) lift your elbows to the ceiling look up a bit, and then to floor (like drawing a vertical line with your elbows)
- Then, draw a horizontal line to the right, and to left
- Combine both movements by drawing circles,
- Now change arms (bottom goes over the top arm) and repeat.
You’ll do this 3x for each stage (up/down; right/left; circles)
6. Anchor Yourself By Focusing on Your Breathing (did you lose it?)
Take some time throughout your workday to notice where your breath is. Is it in your shoulders? In your chest? Or are you doing small, shallow breaths?
Shallow breathing is a result of too much focus outside of ourselves. Our cells constantly need a new supply of oxygen so they can produce energy. It allows the blood to flow faster through our bodies and strengthens the brain. And without healthy cellular function, it can lead to serious damage or death in the cells.
Try this to be conscious of your breathing:
Take 15-30 seconds to look away from what you are working on and repeat in your mind, “I breath in; I breathe out” as you allow your belly to relax and expand.
Even if you do just 1 of the 6 exercises above it’s worth it!! You can do it.
Extra Things to Consider Throughout Your Day:
For every 30 minutes that you sit, you should take 5 minutes to stand up and move around. According to a new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, no matter how much you exercise, sitting for excessively long periods of time is a risk factor for early death (that sounds extreme but there’s a lot to it!).
Here are a few other factors to remember throughout the day.
- Set a reminder on your phone to get up and walk every 30 minutes,
- Take the stairs when you can,
- Get a stand up desk at work, or improvise with a high table or counter,
- Switch up your working environment,
- Be cognizant of your posture at your desk (i.e., Don’t hunch over!)
- Try walking meetings at work instead of more sitting.
Take some time away from screens and sitting just for yourself and join/try a Pilates or ELDOA™ class to help combat the strains throughout the week. Take a peek at our schedule and see what works best for you!