Let's face it: we all dread those endless hours spent at the office desk. We often find ourselves stuck in one spot for hours on end, and it's no surprise that it takes a toll on our physical and mental health. Our muscles are left stiff, our backs are aching, and our energy levels plummet. At best, this leads to discomfort, but at worse? Long-term health problems.
But you don't have to suffer in silence! The good news is there are ways to combat these long periods of sitting with some simple lifestyle changes. In this blog post, I'm going to show you how moving more throughout the day can help reduce your risk of health problems related to sitting for long periods of time. Ready? Let's get moving!
What Is the Impact of Long Periods of Sitting?
Do you ever look up from your phone or computer feeling stiff or sore? It could be a sign that you've been sitting down for too long.
Long periods of sitting can be detrimental to your physical health. Prolonged sitting can lead to serious health risks, such as increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even death. Additionally, it can cause muscle tension in the neck and back, as well as lower energy levels and impaired concentration.
The good news is that there are several ways to combat these effects of long periods of sitting. Taking breaks throughout your day to practice simple stretches or take a walk around the office can make all the difference in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Even if you have a sedentary job, there are ways to stay active and keep your muscles from getting stiff and sore.
Developing Habits to Combat Sitting
We're complex individuals and developing healthy habits is no easy feat. That being said, here are a few ways to start breaking up long periods of sitting:
- Schedule Breaks: Create structure in your day by scheduling regular breaks away from the computer. Aim to stand up and move around for at least 5 minutes every hour while working, or schedule longer breaks throughout the day.
- Incorporate Movement: Take advantage of all the opportunities you have to move during the day - use a standing desk, walk to lunch with colleagues, or opt for public transportation instead of driving. Doing small activities such as taking the stairs or walking while talking on the phone can also make a difference.
- Set Reminders: Use technology to your advantage and set reminders to help get you up and moving throughout the day. Place an alarm around your desk space so that it motivates you, even if it's just for some standing stretching!
Sitting for long periods of time does not have to be inevitable! You just need dedication and patience for these new healthy habits to kick in - trust us, your body will thank you in the long run!
Exercise and Stretching Ideas While Sitting
Staying in one position for long periods of time can mean a lot of physical discomfort. A few simple exercises are easy to do, even when you’re sitting down.
One exercise you can do is arm pumps: with your arms at your side, pump them up and down for about 2 minutes to get the blood flowing and increase circulation.
Next, try a neck roll: tilt your chin towards your chest, then lower it onto one shoulder, gently rolling it across the back of your shoulders until it reaches the other one. Do this a few times and you'll be feeling looser in no time!
Try shoulder rolls while seated in a chair: lift both shoulders up towards your ears, then release them back down and repeat a few times; now alternate lifting each shoulder individually.
Finally, you can also do some leg lifts while seated: bring one knee up towards your chest, hold it there for a few seconds, then release and switch legs. This will stretch out and strengthen the muscles in your legs!
These exercises are great for increasing blood flow throughout your body and making sure that sitting for long periods of time doesn’t cause too much stiffness or discomfort.
Key Accessories to Aid in Staying Active While Seated
When it comes to staying active while seated, there are certain accessories that can help make it easier.
Sit Stand Desks
A sit-stand desk can be an easy way to create a workspace that you can adjust for your needs. This desk gives you the versatility to move your legs, stretch and keep your body in motion throughout the day. Plus, research shows that people who use sit-stand desks experience less fatigue and more energy towards the end of the day.
Footrests and Stools
Using footrests and stools while seated helps provide additional support so you don’t have to solely rely on the chair. It encourages proper posture by promoting good back alignment, which allows your body to remain in a comfortable position without putting too much strain on your muscles.
Using anti-fatigue mats while seated or standing keeps your feet comfortable and encourages feet movement even without having to get up or move around much. These mats also absorb shock, reducing long-term stress and strain on your feet, legs and lower back. Plus, they’re just plain comfy—a welcome relief after hours of sitting all day!
Benefits of Getting Up and Moving
Getting up and moving can do wonders for your body and mind, especially after long periods of sitting. Not only does moving around help stretch out your muscles, it can also increase your alertness and productivity, too.
The human body is designed to move — when you sit for too long, blood can become stagnant and all that extra time can take a toll on circulation. Moving periodically throughout the day helps your heart pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Studies have even shown that just 10 minutes of light activity after sitting for an extended period can reduce cardiovascular risk markers by up to 20%.
Sitting for too long can cause mental fatigue due to lack of physical stimulation. Studies show that even short amounts of exercise can sharpen concentration and improve cognitive function as well as reduce stress and anxiety levels — not to mention the improved mood from endorphins released from movement.
With increased focus, it's easy to see how regular movement throughout the day boosts productivity. Taking short breaks from work — walking around, doing squats or lunges, getting a snack or drink — makes a world of difference for getting back in the groove with work tasks.
Our bodies weren't made to sit still all day — it's important to get up at least once every hour and move around if you want to get the most out of your day!
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The good news is that it’s never too late to start taking steps to combat the effects of too much sitting. You don’t need to make huge lifestyle changes or expensive gym memberships to be on your way to an active lifestyle.
Small changes such as taking regular breaks, doing small stretches or taking walks throughout your day can help to keep your body active. In addition, be sure to listen to your body and take time to relax and recharge whenever necessary, doing activities that you enjoy such as yoga or meditation.
By incorporating these small adjustments into your daily routine and adding more exercise into your lifestyle, you can easily become healthier and fitter, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Taking steps now can help you reap the benefits of an energized and healthier lifestyle.