Does your everyday work setup require you to sit for long hours in a day? Let’s not forget the time you spend sitting in your couch or your seat car while traveling. With that accumulated long hours of sitting, it’s important to take note of the negative toll it takes on your health.
Recent research shows that “sitting is the new smoking.” The Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University claims that sitting all day can highly increase your risk of getting serious health problems. You don’t have to worry anymore, though! We’ve come up with some of the most effective ways for you on how to counteract sitting all day.
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How Sitting Is Damaging To Your Body
Before we show you how to avoid these health problems, let us first explain to you why sitting all day is bad for your body.
Even if sitting seems to be a harmless activity, doing it all day can make your body inactive because you’re using low-level energy. Your muscle activity and your calorie-burning rate already start to slow down the moment you sit.
In two weeks of sitting, for more than six hours a day, you get higher risks of weight gain, high cholesterol and noticeable weakness given the muscle atrophy that you’ll experience once your maximum oxygen usage lowers.
The effects become worse after a year of sitting all day. Studies show that these long term effects slowly manifest in our bodies due to the lack of activity and movement. Women are even at risk to lose up to 1 percent of bone mass every year because of prolonged sitting.
What Are The Risks Of Sitting Too Much
In the long run, the dangers of sitting all day become more alarming. Relevant researches conclude that sitting all day leads to increased chances of obesity, high blood pressure, increased blood sugar, and other metabolic problems. Eventually, it also increases the risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases by 64% and breast or prostate cancer by 30%.
Major studies also found out that people who experience more than 8 hours of sitting a day with little to no physical activity have higher risks of dying. The statistics are even comparable to those who die due to smoking and diabetes.
Even if there are a lot of negative effects in sitting all day, we must acknowledge that it’s still hard to avoid this activity due to all the responsibilities we have from our work or home office. Because of that, we have compiled these helpful tips on how you can counteract sitting all day in very simple ways.
How Long Should I Stand At Work To Counteract Sitting All Day?
People have always been advised to take a break during long hours of sitting at work by standing for about 15 minutes. However, the University of Waterloo professor’s research states that standing for at least 30 minutes per hour is more beneficial for your physical and mental health.
We also found out that the ideal sit-and-stand ratio is between 1:1 to 1:3 in an hour. Learning to balance your sitting time with different physical activities also lowers down your chances of back pain.
Aside from simply standing to stretch out, you may also try walking around during this suggested 30 minutes time frame. Having a stroll can truly do wonders not only for your body but for your mental health as well by boosting your mood for the day.
How Much Exercise Do I Need After Sitting All Day?
According to the researchers of a sedentary lifestyle study, allocating at least one hour of exercise daily can significantly help you to counteract sitting all day. One hour is recommended for those sit for around eight hours a day while those who spend 6 hours or less can already manage with 30 minutes of exercise.
What’s great about this is you can split up these exercises through different times of the day so it won’t be much of a hassle for your hectic schedule. You can easily incorporate some exercises in your daily routine through early morning runs or weekend visits at the park. Adding a few more activities or little movements throughout your day can already help you to counteract sitting all day.
To support this idea, an analysis of data from more than 1 million respondents showed that moderate to intense physical activities around 60 to 75 minutes a day contributed to their improved physical health.
Top 6 Exercises To Help Counteract Sedentary Lifestyle
You may start to get overwhelmed by just hearing the word ‘exercise’ but what we’ve got for you are just very doable exercises you can easily get used to. We’ll only encourage your engagement in light calisthenics.
A low-intensity set of exercises is very ideal for allowing your muscles to get moving and help you with good blood circulation. These exercises will also help you in enhancing your focus, concentration, and relaxation even while you’re working.
The impact of these exercises such as push-ups, crunches, and squats can quickly help you to counteract a sedentary lifestyle. We also recommend you to use one of these highly-rated stand up desk converters to promote good posture and stronger core muscles.
The key to combat the effects of prolonged sitting is by focusing on exercises which strengthen the back part of your body. This includes your back, glutes, and hamstrings. For more details, here are the top exercises you should try out for your routine:
Step No. 1: Dead Bug – 20 reps, alternating
This exercise is ideal to further strengthen your core muscles in your abdomen and promote good body alignment. Here’s how to do it:
- Lie down on your back and bring up your arms towards the ceiling at a shoulder level. Then, bend your knees in a 90-degree position while it’s tucked over your hips.
- Extend your right leg in a straight and slow manner while dropping your left arm at the same time. Leave them at a few inches from the floor.
- Go back to your starting position with your arm and leg.
- Repeat it on the other side to finish one rep until you reach 20 reps in total.
Step No. 2: Plank – 30 seconds
Planking allows you to have a nice pelvic alignment and improve your pelvic orientation. Try it out:
- Get down on the floor with your arms and feet on the ground in a shoulder-width distance. Then, put your forearms in front of you on the floor while your elbows are placed directly under your shoulders.
- Maintain a consistent tightness around your core to keep your body straight then squeeze your butt and thighs.
- Aim your chin in about six inches in front of your body while making sure that your neck and spine are neutral and at ease.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat.
Step No. 3: Single- Leg Bridges – 12 reps per leg
This step will improve your glutes and hamstrings for better movement. Here’s how:
- Lie down on your back. Fold your knees and flatten your feet on the floor in about a foot or so away from your butt.
- Put your arms at your sides on the ground then push your right leg upwards towards the ceiling while flexing it.
- Push with your left foot to raise your glutes, back, and hips off the floor.
- Slowly bring your back lower while maintaining your right leg upwards.
- Repeat this for 12 reps with alternate legs.
Step No. 4: Kettlebell Deadlifts – 15 reps
This does wonders for your posture and core to counteract sitting all day. Check it out:
- Stand and put a kettlebell on the ground between your legs.
- Lift the kettlebell slowly while maintaining a straight back the whole time
- Align your legs as you lift the kettlebell to your hip level
- Repeat it in 15 reps
Step No. 5: Bent-Over Row – 15 reps per arm
Work out your back and shoulder muscles to strengthen your chest and back while sitting. Here’s how:
- Grab a dumbbell with your hand and stand upright with your feet apart. Fold your knees and slightly lean your torso forward.
- In this position, row the dumbbell up to your chest while maintaining your elbows sidewards.
- Lower down the dumbbell to the first position in a controlled manner.
- Do it again for 15 reps then switch arms.
That’s it! You no longer have to worry about the health dangers of sitting the whole day through these wonderful and effective exercises. From the 30-minute stand breaks to these daily exercises, it’s guaranteed that you’ll be able to counteract sitting all day in no time. Are there other tips or exercises that you’ve tried that you want to share? Let us know in the comment section below!
You may also like:
- Our guide to help you start standing
- Understanding average desk heights, posture and ergonomics
- Anti-gravity massage chairs for lower back pain