If your work or lifestyle causes you to sit for any length of time each day then you are literally sitting on a time bomb.
Too much sitting or conversely sitting for long periods of time is well proven to be extremely harmful for your health.
And this goes for people of all ages; no one is spared.
Sitting is now a modern day killer disease but fortunately the debilitating results of long term sitting are one thing that can be very easily reversed.
You might remember a previous article I was prompted to write on this subject after our son was diagnosed with DVT (four blood clots in his lower leg) in his early thirties.
The article is all about Sitting, Exercise and Premature Death – How to Make Sure You Are Not One of the Statistics. Everyone who sits for any length of time on a regular basis should read it as it may even save your life.
Since then it has become one of my pet subjects as the long term results of sitting can be so devastating yet by following some very simple practices it is so easy to keep the problem at bay.
If you stop for a second right now to think about your daily 9 to 5 grind, you will probably realize that most of it involves sitting for long periods of time. A recent study shows that excessive sitting – more specifically, 9+ hours of sitting per day – can lead to some rather serious health conditions over time.
Unfortunately, this is also becoming a huge problem in the baby boomer or retiree age group.
Without getting into the science of how sitting directly impacts your health in a negative way, some of the devastating side effects from a lack of physical activity can lead to such conditions as posture disorders, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and various types of cancers.
And with cancer being on the list it is no wonder why some media outlets have coined sitting as the “smoking of our generation”.
When you add to the typical 8 hour work day, your 1-2 hour commute and the 6-8 hours of sleep you get on a nightly basis, the numbers can really add up over time.
If you are now finding yourself regretting those long hours of non-physical activity then fear not, because I’ve included 5 easy exercises you can do at work to keep yourself active; reducing your chances of developing the aforementioned life-threatening diseases and conditions.
1. Leg Raises
Sit up nice and straight in your chair, hold your abs tight, now extend one leg up and straight out in front of you. Hold this position for 10 seconds then slowly lower; now do the other leg.
As you become more proficient with this one take it to the next level by raising both legs together.
To double the effect of this one lets also add a little isometric exercise. Put your hands palms down on your desk and press down for the 10 seconds. Do it in reverse as well by putting your hands under the desk and lifting upwards.
2. Tennis Anyone?
The simple act of squeezing a tennis ball can do wonders on your grip and forearm strength, as well as lessen your stress level plus help with RSI. This can be done by simply bringing a tennis ball to the office and periodically squeezing it for 10 or more seconds at a time.
But please try and refrain from throwing it at that annoying person sitting over in the corner :).
Another good exercise I recommend for those doing lots of keyboard work is to stretch your right arm straight out in front of you with your palm facing down.
With your left hand, place your fingers over the right then pull up on the other fingers. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds giving them a good stretch. Now swap hands.
When done swap to holding your palms facing up and using the same process bend the fingers down instead of up.
3. Calf Raises
Stand up behind your chair and hold onto its backrest. Put your left foot just above your right ankle and resting on the calf. Now rise up onto your toes nice and slowly then back down again. Do these 10 times then swap legs. You can also go the other way; when you rise up hold that position for 3 to 5 seconds and then slowly lower.
4. Chair Twists
Sit with your legs a little more than shoulder-width apart. Bring your arms up and out to your sides, keeping them parallel to the ground.
In one motion, twist your hips, arms and head to the left side to the point where you can see what’s behind you. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds, and then repeat for the other side.
It’s also an exercise that is good for your abdominal muscles. 10 reps ought to do it but do more by all means if you feel up to it. You can stand and do this as well.
5. Chair Squats – Stand-up, Sit Down and Repeat
Admittedly, this one sort of breaks the rules as depicted by the article’s title. But the impact of standing up and sitting down repeatedly without using your hands for support is one of the simplest, yet most overlooked chair exercises there is.
A few sets of 10 repetitions spread throughout the day will work wonders for your legs and even release some of that pent up tension from your commute. To make it a bit harder, squat into the chair until you are not quite touching the seat. Hold that position for 10 seconds then stand back up.
For all chair exercises, if you have an ergonomic model make sure the wheels and the tilt mechanism are locked otherwise you may end up in an embarrassing situation.
There you have it! Five plus nice and easy exercises that will not only get your blood flowing to keep your energy levels high, but can also be used more intensely to tone up or to build muscle while performing those repetitive, mundane tasks at the office or even while watching TV.
And just before I go, it seems lately every time I do a bit of research for a new article I keep coming across more new evidence about the dangers of long periods of sitting and how it increases the risk of premature death as well as many other lifestyle diseases of things like the kidneys and heart and you can throw diabetes in there as well.
Something I found interesting, and I hope you will take an extra few minutes to read it, is this little gem; it’s all about how a 2 minute walk may counter the harms of sitting.
What the scientists found when doing this piece of research was quite unexpected.
It is also well worthwhile, for your quality of life and longevity, to understand Why Exercise Is Vital In Preventing Serious Health Issues in Old Age.
See you out and about – Cheers – John – your Active Ageing Mentor and Coach.
P.S. Help a friend to better health and fitness – like and share. Thanks.