On average, people in America are sitting over 10 hours each day. This may come as a surprise to some, however, those of you who work desk jobs or are students will agree that the time you spend sitting is a huge majority of your day. Not only do many of us sit while we work or study, but most, if not all of us, sit while we eat our meals, during our long commutes, and while watching television and unwinding from our stressful days. Chances are you’re also sitting while you’re reading this.
Sitting requires little to no engagement of our muscles, especially our legs and glutes. By not regularly engaging these large muscle groups, they lose their strength and ability to support us, which can lead to injuries. Not only do our muscles become weaker, but being inactive for long periods of time put us at risk for:
Aside from affecting our health and well-being, sitting for long periods of time can aggravate or worsen preexisting conditions, such as arthritis and bulging or herniated discs. This is because sitting puts more pressure on the spine, which can increase back pain.
With sitting being such a huge part of our daily routines, it’s important to not be discouraged, but instead to act and do the most we can to counter its effects. When it comes to the risks associated with sitting, it’s not so much sitting that’s the problem, but rather sitting and being inactive for long periods of time. Here are some tips for finding a balance:
Take breaks. Set an alarm to remind you to get up at least once every hour to stretch or walk.
Drink more water. Not only is hydrating good for you, but you’ll also need to get up more frequently to use the restroom.
Pace. Utilize your earphones or headset and walk around while you’re talking on the phone instead of sitting.
Stretch. There are a multitude of stretches you can do while sitting to not only keep your muscles active, but also to alleviate any discomfort sitting may cause.
Exercise. Engaging your core is an easy exercise to do, and not only will it keep your abdominals working while sitting, but no one will even notice you’re doing it.
Walk. Park further away from your destination and take the stairs instead of the elevator.
It’s no secret that exercise is the best medicine not just for existing diseases or conditions, but also for preventing them. Although sitting isn’t something we can eliminate from our lives, it is something we can manage and find a balance with. Be aware of your daily activity schedule and make sure you’re including movement to counter the sedentarism according to your own lifestyle. As with any new lifestyle change, it’s important to not be discouraged by initial inconsistencies and instead be proud of your efforts and actions. After all, some change is better than no change.
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