In our post ‘The Huge Benefits of Walking More’ we briefly touched on the fact that the majority of us spend most of our life sitting down.
Whether it’s in an office, coffee shop, car or even just at home in the evening we spend way longer sitting down than we should and normally in an extremely bad posture.
This time spent sitting which can average out to be between 8 to 15 hours a day is in fact the total opposite of what the body was designed to do and that is stand and walk. It is without doubt very unhealthy for us to sit as much as we do and can lead to big health issues down the line.
In these two videos below we look at the results of spending too much time on a chair and then ways to improve posture. Videos via Howitworks and GuerrillaZen Fitness.
If you’re sitting too much, you may also be sitting the wrong way increasing the risk of an inflexible spine and herniated lumbar discs. As well as conditions like a hunched upper back and a swayback.
Sitting too much can actually be like training your muscles to sit, leading to something called Disuse Atrophy. Your Muscles lose flexibility and store fat rather than converting it to energy. Bones can become weak and not used to supporting your body weight.
Sitting down for around one hour will cause your body to slow down its production of the fat-burning enzyme lipase by 90 percent. Meaning if your caloric intake doesn’t slow down you’ll gain weight. You could also head towards Diabetes as insulin is managed less efficiently.
When blood, oxygen and important hormones and chemicals are not being circulated around your body properly your mind goes dull, and your mood and self-esteem go downhill.
You increase your chances of getting what’s called an activities of daily living disability by a whopping 50% by every extra hour you spend sitting each day. Daily living in this case is trivial tasks such as dressing, cleaning, eating etc.
So what is good posture, then?
Good posture means good body alignment and even weight distribution, with your shoulders aligned over your hips and then your hips over knees.
Here is the ideal sitting posture, where you need to maintain a neutral and vertical spine.
To keep your low back in its slightly arched neutral position tilt your pelvis ever so slightly forward but make sure you do not over do this! If you push it too far forward and hold this for too long you will develop extreme tightness in your back and thigh muscles.
Slowly pull your Abdomen in and your abs should be slightly squeezed. It should feel as though you are bracing yourself for a punch to the gut.
Your upper back, like the lower back also has a natural curvature in it, its naturally flexed. Most people are over flexed, hunched over so this step needs us to lift the chest and pull the shoulders back and down.
The necks natural position is slightly extended / arched and the muscles that do this are often over active and too strong. So keep your chin tucked in and head pulled back. Don’t over do this but try to aim for your head to be sitting nicely on your vertical axis.
As we’ve spoken about above sitting in general is bad, there is no way to get away from this fact so whatever steps you can take to improve your posture this will help to minimise the negative effects.
Why not watch Television sat on a Stability Ball rather than slouching on the couch. This will be a much better option than a chair.
Or how about a Standing Desk for work?
Deskercise is a great option and can be super simple and subtle.
When you are at work how about standing up every 20 – 30 minutes, set a timer to give you a nudge to jump up and walk around few a few minutes.
Why not try a few simple stretching exercises from our list of 5 minute exercises to help keep more supple?
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