It’s not surprising that sitting long hours causes some problems for our bodies. The research found that excessive sitting has been linked to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. While this doesn’t guarantee you won’t get heart disease if you work at a desk, sitting is not good for your health.
On top of the medical issues linked to inactivity, people who sit all day and don’t add regular exercise into their lifestyle, tend to suffer from a weak core, high hip flexors, back pain, neck pain, and sometimes wrist pain for those who type excessively. In order to alleviate these problems, it is recommended to participate in 30 minutes of intense exercise at least three times a week along with warm-ups and cool-downs with stretching.
Here are some tips along with a few great exercises you can do at home with minimal weight to help keep your body healthy and functional. As you read this piece, keep in mind it is proven to be beneficial to exercise with others in a group setting to leverage the community for accountability and sometimes even friendly competition.
What Happens When We Sit All The Time
We sit at work, continue it on the way to it and back. The usual resting position is also sitting… Kids and students sit a lot too. How often do they cry, “I need to do my research paper all night!”? We guess you answered ‘frequently’ because college time is very busy. Seniors also experience a lack of activity.
Sitting for long periods of time can have a negative impact on our physical health. Poor posture and prolonged sitting can lead to tight hips, which in turn causes your glutes (or butt muscles) to become longer. The ability to activate the gluteal muscles properly over time can be compromised, leading to gluteal forgetfulness, or dead butt syndrome. If your glutes don’t work properly, the other muscles in your body will have to work harder. This eventually can cause poor alignment and aches. Also, tight hip flexors make it difficult for your pelvis to rotate properly. Inhibited mobility in this area can cause lower back pain and compression.
Good news! There are ways you can reverse the negative effects of sitting too much. It can be a great idea to do some exercises off-the-clock. These include strengthening your posterior (back) parts, such as your back, glutes, and hamstrings, while stretching your anterior (front), muscles, such as your hips, pelvis, and chest. This can help reduce tightness in the back and pelvis, as well as strengthen the muscles necessary for good posture.
So, what are you waiting to do? You can find our guide here.
- Repeat the following circuit three times.
- Try to increase weight or speed, use variations, or decrease total time, in order to progress over time.
- Spend 5 minutes warming up first with plyometrics and dynamic stretching such as push ups and hopping split squats.
- Afterward spend 5 minutes cooling down with t-spine rotations, lower body stretching, and controlled breathing.
This exercise is focused on stabilizing the core muscles, such as the transverse abdominus.
- Your arms should be at your shoulders so that your spine is straight. Your legs should be raised to the top of the table.
- Slowly extend your right knee straightening your left leg. While doing so, raise your left arm above the ground. Keep your legs a few inches apart.
- Restore your arm and leg to their original positions.
- You can do this on the opposite side. Keep your left leg extended and extend your right hand. Repeat this one time.
- 20 reps, alternating.
- A great variation is to squeeze a medicine ball between the up arm and the up leg.
Deadlifts are primarily for the posterior chain, which includes glutes, hips, and hamstrings. This helps reverse poor posture that can result from sitting all day.
- Standing with the kettlebell between your legs, place it on the ground.
- Maintaining your back flat, lift your hips and push your butt back. Bend slightly at the knees in order to pick up your kettlebell.
- Straighten your legs and raise the kettlebell until it reaches your hips.
- Slowly lower the kettlebell down so it touches the floor. Reverse the hip-hinge motion you made when you picked up the kettlebell. Repeat immediately.
- Perform 15 reps.
- A great variation is to switch arms between each rep.
This exercise is mainly for the glutes but also targets the core, quads, and hamstrings.
- Your feet should be slightly wider than your hips. With both hands on your chest, hold a kettlebell.
- To lower your butt toward ground, bend at your hips and knees.
- To get as low as possible, push through heels and then stand up again. Your knees should not extend past your ankles.
- Repeat for 15 reps.
- A great variation is to add a jump at the top. Always try to land softly.
Planks and Side Planks
Planks may be used to strengthen the core and improve pelvic orientation.
- Your toes should be shoulder-width apart. Get up on your fours and place your feet on the floor. Place your forearms flat on the floor with your elbows bent at 90 degrees below your shoulders, hands straight out in front.
- Maintain a tight core so that your body runs straight from head to foot.
- You can squeeze your butt and thighs.
- Maintain a neutral and comfortable posture for your spine and neck. Tip: Position your chin approximately six inches in front.
- Hold it for 30 seconds.
- A great variation is to rotate sideways into a side plank. To really push it, try alternating rotations – start flat and low as described above, then rotate sideways pointing your arm straight up towards the ceiling and stack your feet. Then back to the middle. Then rotate to the other side.
Single-leg bridges are great for engaging the largest glute muscles and the core.
- Lay flat on your back. Your knees should be bent and your feet should be flat on the ground. Your arms should rest on the floor.
- Your right leg should be lifted toward the ceiling. Keep your foot flexed.
- Push your left foot through the ground to raise your hips, glutes and back.
- Slowly lower yourself, while your right leg is still in the air.
- 12 reps for each leg.
- A great variation is to use a faster pace and turn the movement into a plank march. Press your palms together with arms extended straight overhead to add some core stability to the movement.
You will be working your shoulders and back muscles, including the traps, lats, and rhomboids. The bent-over position can also work the core.
- Keep a dumbbell in the right hand. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Keep your hips bent at your knees.
- Maintaining this position, raise the dumbbell at chest level and keep your elbow in line with your side.
- Reduce the dumbbell slowly back to its original position.
- 15 reps for each arm.
- A great variation is to use 2 dumbbells or kettlebells at the same time. Another variation is to put the opposite hand and knee on a bench for support, allowing heavier weights.
The fact that you made it this far in this post means you want to take action and improve your health. The above workout consisting of the best exercises you can do if you sit all day can be done with items around the house, but as we mentioned before, if you have challenges with accountability and discipline, it could really help to join a local gym that holds group classes such as BootCamp, TRX, or kickboxing. Try not to delay. No need to wait until next Monday or after the next holiday or the new year. Get started now, start slow, ease into it, and in 3 months’ time you will be glad you started today.