On a daily basis, we each spend time doing it: sitting. Some may have heard the phrase that “sitting is the new smoking” and while sitting doesn’t necessarily fill us up with addictive substances and toxins like a cigarette, it can sure cause us harm, if we don’t try to combat the many hours we might be spending per day just sitting down. Even though many of us spend an hour or so doing some exercise at our CrossFit classes, this may not be enough to combat the potential harm sitting is causing our bodies.
As human beings, we adapt to the circumstances and situations that we spend time doing on a day to day basis. So if we’re sitting for hours on end, our bodies start to adapt to the shape, form, and level of inactivity that sitting allows us to do. Let’s think about the hours we spend per day in this seated position: meal times, commuting/sitting in traffic, work hours (varies per individual, but desk and office jobs typically have 7-8 hours of seated time), and not to mention the time spent sifting through social media or watching TV. For some of us, that may be over half a day of sitting down!
If you are experiencing tightness in your hips and other joints, have a tendency for your shoulders to slouch or cave in, nagging aches in other muscle groups throughout the day or before exercise, it may be a sign that you are spending too many hours per day sitting down.
Here are some easy ways to overcome the chronic seated position, in a few simple tips:
- Schedule movement breaks at work. Allow yourself 5-10 minutes to get up and walk around, stretch some muscles, and take a break from the desk. Not only will this allow you to get movement in throughout the work day, but it will also allow for your brain to take a timely break from work, and you may even return to work with more productivity and focus!
- Plan for a morning or evening walk with a family member, partner, pet or on your own! Incorporating 15-20 minutes can get the blood circulation flowing early in the morning, or help bring you some peace and quiet in the later evening after dinner. Skipping out on 15-20 minutes of TV time or social media time won’t have you missing much.
- Have a lacrosse ball stored away in your desk at work or at home. Use it to start opening up some tight muscle groups in the pectorals, lats, traps, lower back and even hips or glutes. You can decide which muscle groups would be least awkward to loosen up at work, and you may want to do the other groups at the gym or at home!
- Take conventional seated times and turn them into standing times. If you eat sitting down, try having a meal standing up. Or if you are having a meeting with co-workers, try to schedule it by walking and talking instead of at the conference table. You might notice that this can also bring a brighter mood to team meetings and allow for efficiency, as individuals are not distracted by a screen in front of them!
If you’re seated for several hours a day, prioritizing movement and mobility may have to move further up your priority list. As discussed, exercise and movement for just one hour out of the 24 hours in one day may not be enough!