15 Exercises to Counteract Sitting

Happy Veteran’s Day!  So thankful to all those who serve this country and a special shout-out to my late-grandfather who fought in WWII, what a special man 🙂

Like promised here is the information I taught in class last week.  15 Exercises to Counteract the Effects of Sitting. It’s long with no pictures so I apologize in advance for that. I did have pictures on the handout but thought I’d save some space here and take them out.  If an exercise doesn’t make sense either ask me or frankly Google it.  While I would LOVE to hear from you (so plz still ask away) it’s amazing what information you can find on Google these days, kinda scary actually. So without further ado…..

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Side Effects of sitting:

  • Obesity – This shouldn’t come as any surprise that sitting all day instead of moving burns less calories and leads to weight gain. Studies have shown that prolonged periods of sitting can, over time, slow your metabolism.
  • Herniated Disk – Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your hips and spine and can lead to injuries over an extended period of time. Prolonged pressure on your spine can lead to a disc to slide out of place and eventually burst, which is extremely painful and requires medication, physical therapy, and in extreme cases surgery.
  • Poor posture – More than likely you don’t have perfect posture all the time when sitting. This leads to weakened muscles and tight joints which can lead to further injury.  It can also leave you feeling tired and cause low back and neck pain.
  • Knee Pain – Sitting with knees at 90 degrees puts increased pressure on the knee cap.  This in turn can lead to pain and swelling and can cause further pain in during other activities. Also having underdeveloped leg muscles makes the knees work harder for stability causing pain.
  • Muscle Weakness – It makes sense that moving less uses less muscle which leads to muscle atrophy.  The Gluteal muscles (or buttocks) are one of the largest muscle groups in the body and but severely underworked when sitting.  These muscles are used in really any body movement and are essential to avoiding back and hip pain.
  • Slowed Metabolism – When sitting, your body starts to “shut-down” on a metabolic level in order to save energy and be more efficient.  In the bodies attempt to conserve energy that we don’t need, it actually starts packing on the pounds.
  • Neck Problems – While working at a computer, many people either extend their necks slightly, or keep it bent at an angle depending on if they’re working on a computer of paper.  Over long periods of time this can harm the muscles and joints and lead to pain when not at work.
  • Back Aches and Pains – One of the hardest hit places in the body from sitting for long periods of time is the back.  From the increased pressure and lack of movement, the back can become very sore after a few hours and over time develop into more serious issues
  • -Deep Vein Thrombosis- Most usually hear about the dangers of blood clots in your legs when flying, but just as important when sitting anywhere – either at home or work.
  • -Increased Risk Heart Disease- Scary thought. Studies have shown that those who work-out for an hour a day and still sit all day are at the same risk of heart disease as those who sit all day and don’t work-out.
  • -Risk of Diabetes- Same as increasing risk of heart disease; sitting for long periods of time can also increase your risk of developing Diabetes up to 7%.  Sitting causes your blood flow to slow down which can result in increased blood sugar and insulin resistance.
  • -Raised Cholesterol- Sitting causes enzyme activity to decrease as much as 90%. Enzymes are what grab fat out of your cells in order to use it for energy. When left in the body, this circulating fat causes healthy cholesterol levels to drop by 20% after just a few hours of sitting.
  • -Increased Risk of Depression- As we’ve discussed, sitting reduces blood flow which can lead to depression and less blood flow means less feel-good hormones running through your system.
  • -Shorter Life Span- New studies are starting to show that those who sit for 6 hours a day are at increased risk of early death of all health related causes.  For those who exercise as well, the risk is 35% higher for women and 18% for men.  Unfortunately those who don’t exercise have an increased risk of 94% and 48% respectively.  Yikes!

Example Exercises:

  1. Standing side stretch
  2. Standing shoulder blade squeeze
  3. Standing hamstring/calf stretch
  4. Standing quadriceps (front of leg) stretch
  5. One leg stand with hip hike
  6. Standing hip flexor stretch (lunge)
  7. Bird-dog and cat-camel
  8. Knee to chest stretch
  9. Basic spinal twist
  10. Piriformis stretch
  11. Bridge (single-leg)
  12. Straight leg lifts (double legs/alternating kicks)
  13. Side leg lifts with bands
  14. Plank
  15. Side plank

Whew, that was really long but super important information that quite a few people need to know.  I hope this helps someone out there. Again if you have any questions please ask, and if you suffer from any of the more serious side-effects please, please, please consult your Dr. before attempting any of these exercises. While I am a Certified Personal Trainer, each individual case is different and this isn’t to serve as a blanket statement for everyone, simply helpful guidelines.

Have a wonderful week of (hopefully) not much sitting 😀

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