So you HAVE to sit all day?
Well, at least learn how to make it LESS bad for you!
By now we should all be aware that sitting all day can be really bad for us. We see article after article, report after report, explaining how evolution has not prepared us for this sedentary lifestyle and how all this sitting may well be the death of us.
OK, so you wear an Apple Watch and do your 10,000 steps a day! That makes you OK, right? Wrong, not so! Unfortunately it’s the actual amount of hours we still spend sitting that does the damage.
So, what’s the answer? How are we to stay healthy? Well, here’s something super simple that you can start doing right away. We call it “Dynamic” or “Active Sitting.”
Basically this means to stay active whilst sitting. It means to keep moving around a little, making sitting more ‘active’ and less ‘passive’. I know it sounds like an oxymoron, moving and sitting at the same time, but if you can get the idea you’ll see that it really works. So what is ‘dynamic sitting’, and how can we all easily incorporate it to our daily life?
Dynamic sitting requires that you actively maintain your body in a dynamic state, and this can be done anywhere, anytime, and with very little effort.
The first, and arguably the most important step is to become aware of your sitting position and how it feels. What kind of chair are you sitting on? How often are you moving? Are you slouching and tired or are you upright and alert?
The trick is not to make sitting your enemy, but to allow sitting to work for you. You have to understand sitting, accept sitting, and embrace sitting. Try getting your body into the habit of avoiding still positions.
“Your best posture is your next posture”
– Morgan Freeman
Tips to sit actively
It’s widely recognized that we should try to move every 20 minutes. I know this sounds like a lot of effort, and it is. And, is it even right? I know if I sit in a slouched still position for 20 minutes I’ll be feeling stiff and uncomfortable for sure. This means that damage has already been done.
My advice is to gradually make dynamic changes which can gradually become good habits that will stay with you for life.
Firstly, try and sit up, maintaining a healthy curve in the low back. Engage your abs or stomach muscles. Imagine you are sitting on an exercise ball that is a little unstable, your pelvis moving slightly in any and all directions.
Even better, do sit on an exercise ball, or perhaps on a balance cushion like in the photo above. We have supplied many individuals and organizations with balance cushions on which they can now sit creating the instability that promotes movement. I’m not talking about moving a long way in any direction, more micro movements that shift the weight about initiating balancing reflexes in the nerves and muscles and creating a gentle pumping action that irrigates the discs of the spine with blood and nutrition. Without this gentle movement and the constant correction by reflex action, the body and especially the spine deconditions and we see premature aging and degeneration.
Become more conscious of your body and it’s position. Set reminders or write Post-it notes. You can train it to self correct so small barely perceptible changes in position stimulate healthy physiology (how the body works). Truth is, for dynamic sitting to be effective, we don’t need to do much but we do need to ‘engage’. Do stand up whenever you can and let gravity permeate your tissues.
Try and think of getting the blood around the body effectively; this of course involves moving.
Here are some little things you can do right now:
- Lift your sternum two inches and roll your shoulders back.
- Stretch your arms: clasp your hands together and stretch your arms over your head as high as you can.
- Roll your neck: create a circular motion with your head, you will feel your neck release loads of tension.
- Shake your legs: lift your feet so that they are above the ground and shake/swing your legs like a kid that doesn’t reach the floor.
- Clench your butt: don’t think you need me to describe this one.
- Shift your leg positions: if your sitting cross legged, switch sides, or place your feet side by side.
- Roll your feet: lift your feet and move them in a circular motion.
- Circle your hips and pelvis- move your hips around, pretend you are using a hula-hoop.
- Roll that pelvis backwards and forwards creating a gentle pumping action in the low back, wonderful for your poor tired discs.
Unfortunately, the more you sit the less your body wants to move, so try to gradually increase the daily movement until it becomes second nature. I have been doing this for years and no one has ever accused me of not being able to sit still, my movement is barely perceivable to others. The benefits are enormous in terms of improved function, less pain and stiffness and reduced fatigue.
These are simple solutions for a healthy life, they don’t cost anything, and the difference they could make to your future health could be significant.