Several studies over a period of time have established that sitting for longer period can be not just detrimental for your health but can prove deadly too. Researchers found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to that posed by obesity and smoking. If you too are sitting for extended periods of time, you should know that doing that and remaining inactive for a longer period of time can make you overweight and obese and put you at risk of type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and early death. It can also slow down your metabolism, and as a result plays havoc with your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat. (Also read: Prolonged sitting puts health at risk: Study)
WHO (2013) estimates 3.2 million people die prematurely each year due to a sedentary lifestyle. It also increases the risk of chronic musculoskeletal disorders like low back pain, and neck and knee pain which is a huge socioeconomic concern in years to come.
What is prolonged sitting
“Prolonged sitting behaviour is when a human spends sitting for more than 8-9 hours in a day with minimal energy expenditure. These include office hours, driving automobiles or using public transport regularly, and excessive screen time,” says Lalchawimawi Sanate PT, LCCE Designation – Senior Physiotherapist Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bangalore, Sahakarnagar.
The adverse effects of too much sitting are:
– Increased blood pressure
– Higher risk for type 2 diabetes
– Excess body fat around the waist
– High level of bad cholesterol
– Increase in muscular imbalance leading to a musculoskeletal disorder
– Increased risk of depression and anxiety
Can we reverse effects of too much sitting?
To reverse the effects of too much sitting on our bodies, we need to increase our energy expenditure throughout the day by exercising and reducing the time of prolonged sitting.
Lalchawimawi Sanate suggests 5 exercises that can help reverse adverse effects of excessive sitting and that can be easily incorporated during your working hours:
Benefits: Push-ups improve upper body strength, posture and activates core muscles.
How to do it
– Hold the edge of your desk with your hands, a little wider to your shoulders.
– Step your feet back until your body is inclined straight to your feet
– Your feet are on the floor and your arms are fully extended.
– Tighten your abdominal muscles and bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle, along with your body and push yourself back to the starting position.
Note: Avoid arching your back.
Things to remember
– Make sure your desk is strong enough to hold your body weight. If not you can do wall push-ups.
– Wall push-ups will be easier during pregnancy if you are doing push-ups for the first time.
2. Seated Spine Twist
Benefits: This improves spinal mobility, stretches your chest, hip, middle and lower back and activates your oblique muscles.
How to do it
– Sit straight on your chair with your feet resting on the floor.
– Place your right hand on the right side backrest, and place your left hand on your right thigh.
– Slowly rotate your body from your torso until your left shoulder is in line with your right thigh and your eyes are on your right shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
3. Seated knee pull ins
Benefits: This exercise strengthens your core muscles and erector spinae muscles, improves posture and decreases back pain.
How to do it
– Sit straight in a chair without resting your back on the backrest of the chair and hold the armrest of the chair.
– Activate your abdomen and straighten both legs parallel to the floor.
– Keep your feet together, bend both knees toward your body.
– Consciously try activating your abdominal muscles.
Note: If you find it difficult to bend both knees towards the body, bend your knees one by one towards your body.
4. Chair Squats
Benefits: The chair squats strengthen your glutes, hamstring, quadriceps muscles and improve flexibility of your hip and knee joint.
How to do it
– Stand one step away from your chair, your feet apart to shoulder distance and toe pointing slightly outwards.
– Bearing your body weight on both your ankle joints, bend your hip and knees degrees like you are going to sit on a chair. Hold the position for 5 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
Note: Do not slouch your back, your knees should not cross the line of your toes
5. Heel Raise
Benefits: This strengthens your calf muscles which are Gastrocnemius and soleus, improves circulation especially in the population with chronic vein disease, and ankle stability.
How to do it
– Stand with legs apart at shoulder level, and hold your chair or desk for support.
– Slowly raise your heel until your toes are resting on the floor, hold the raise for 3-5 seconds and lower your heel slowly to the floor.