It’s no surprise that sitting all day does some undesirable things to our bodies.
Research has linked excessive sitting with an elevated risk for health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Of course that doesn’t mean you’ll get heart disease just because you have a desk job—but sitting isn’t doing your body any favors.
Sitting all day can also impact us physically. Sitting for long periods of time, especially with poor posture, makes your hip flexors tight, which causes the glutes (butt muscles) to lengthen to compensate.
Over time, this compromises the ability of the gluteal muscles to activate properly, leading to a condition called gluteal amnesia, AKA dead butt syndrome. When your glutes can’t do their job, other muscles in your body have to work harder, which ultimately can overwork them, leading to poor body alignment and aches. Tight hip flexors also make it harder for your pelvis to rotate properly—inhibited mobility in this area can cause compression and pain in the lower back.
If you spend most of your time sitting, there is some good news. While it is true that sitting for most of the day isn’t healthy, there are some ways you can help undo the damage, like for instance standing up for at least 30 to 40 minutes a day.
In addition, doing certain exercises when you’re off the clock can also make a huge difference, especially ones that focus on strengthening the posterior (back) part of your body—like your back, glutes, and hamstrings—while stretching the anterior (front) muscles such as your hip flexors, pelvis, and chest. This helps counteract the tightness that ensues when you’re in a seated position, plus strengthens the muscles that we need for good posture.
THE DEAD BUG
Slowly extend your right leg out straight, while simultaneously dropping your left arm overhead. Keep both a few inches from the ground.
Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position.
Repeat on the other side, extending your left leg and your right arm. That’s one rep. Continue alternating for 20 reps total.
Keep your core tight so your body is in a straight line from head to toe.
Squeeze your thighs and butt.
Keep your neck and spine in a comfortable, neutral position. (Tip: Try aiming your chin about six inches in front of your body.)
Hold for 30 seconds.
SINGLE LEG BRIDGES
Lift your right leg in the air toward the ceiling, keeping your foot flexed.
Push through your left foot to lift your glutes, hips, and back off the ground.
Slowly lower back down, keeping your right leg in the air.
Repeat for 12 reps, then switch legs.
BEND OVER ROW
Keeping your body in this position, row the dumbbell up to chest level, keeping your elbow toward your side.
In a controlled motion, lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position.
Repeat for 15 reps.
Bend at your knees and hips to lower your butt toward the ground, as if you’re sitting in a chair.
Go as low as you can, then push through heels to stand back up. Make sure your knees don’t go past your ankles.
Repeat for 15 reps.
Also see: How you sit affects you health
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