The endless hours of work behind a desk, cars, Netflix, and all the other improvements and conveniences of 21st century life that have eliminated physical activity mean that it is no longer a routine, integrated, and necessary part of our lives.
But it’s not just about sitting, it’s about sitting for a long time and uninterruptedly. Something that has only gotten worse since the global pandemic.
How does sitting posture affect health?
Unfortunately, humans are made to move, and now a growing body of research shows that constant sitting has a negative impact on our metabolic health, slowing metabolism and negatively affecting blood sugar and blood pressure.
Studies link excessive sitting to weight gain, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but also to other health problems such as dementia, various cancers, depression and premature death.
Why is it bad to sit too long?
When we sit, the leg muscles, which are the largest in the body, are inactive. This affects our metabolic health in several ways.
Blood sugar control. Being inactive, the leg muscles require minimal energy and therefore take in little fuel (sugar), which interferes with blood sugar regulation. After eating, sugar is not removed, causing it to build up in the blood and increasing the risk of diabetes.
Fat metabolism (burning). Lack of movement also reduces muscle release of biochemicals that help break down fat into the bloodstream after eating, leading to higher cholesterol levels and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Despite all our technological advances to make life easier and more comfortable, we have forgotten that our body is essentially the same as it always was: it is adapted to constant muscular activity throughout the day. In other words, regular muscle activity is how we function optimally. And you can’t beat it with exercises.
Sitting too much is not the same as exercising too little. Prolonged sitting is itself a risk factor for poor health, independent and separate from the risk factor for physical inactivity. While exercising for an hour after work has benefits, it doesn’t negate the effects of being inactive for the rest of the day. In fact, sitting can make you resist some of the positive effects of exercise.
For example, after exercise, the body’s ability to burn fat increases, so less fat is stored. However, if you are sedentary for the rest of the day (approximately fewer than 5,000 steps a day), this fat-burning effect of exercise is blunted, causing your body to store more fat. On the other hand, being active throughout the day (8,500 steps per day) seems to protect the metabolism against this negative effect. On average, adults only take 5,117 steps a day.
Sit 30 minutes, move 3
But not all is lost. Where there is a problem, there is a solution. Studies suggest that the answer lies in interrupting the session with regular short breaks. Recent research shows that getting up every 30 minutes for 3 minutes can help mitigate the adverse health effects of prolonged sitting. The researchers found that these micro-breaks, in which participants engaged in low- to moderate-intensity physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs and doing bodyweight squats , improved blood sugar and cholesterol control.
How to move more? Set a timer or use your phone to remind yourself to move every 30 minutes. Any activity is valid, such as having a coffee, refilling the water bottle, going to the bathroom or moving around while talking on the phone. The more steps you can take or the more vigorous the activity during these breaks, the greater the effect.
3 minute workouts
Depending on whether you’re in the office or working from home, inject a little extra movement into an otherwise passive workday with these 3-minute workouts.
1. Climb the stairs
If you’re going to a meeting or just for coffee, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or, if you’re not headed anywhere, just head out of your office to the stairwell for a mini workout, going up and down the stairs.
Be careful on the descents. You can make things more difficult by going up two steps at a time and going down the stairs to recover.
2. Squats and push-ups
Squats work the glutes , thighs (quadriceps and hamstrings), and calves. Squats also work your core, improve mobility in your ankles and hips, and a quick set provides a mini cardio workout that will get your heart pumping. Simply do squats or, for a more challenging workout, incorporate push-ups.
Squats and push-ups are the cornerstone of bodyweight training. Between them, these two powerful exercises work just about every muscle in your body and are simple (but not easy) to perform.
How to do this workout: For this workout, do 10 squats and then 10 pushups. Next, do 9 squats and 9 pushups, and then 8 squats and 8 pushups. Keep doing one rep less per set until you do 1 squat and 1 pushup or you run out of time.
Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart and your chest lifted. Extend your hands out in front of you to help maintain your balance. She starts by sitting down and then getting up as if you were sitting on an imaginary chair. Keep your face and head facing forward. Lower your body down so that your thighs are parallel to the ground. Put all your weight on your heels. Keep your body tight and push your body up through your heels to return to the starting position.
Start on all fours with your hands on the floor, slightly wider than vertical with your shoulders, but in line with them. The body should form a straight line from the shoulders to the ankles. Squeeze your abs to the maximum and keep them tight. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the ground, making sure your elbows are tucked in close to your torso. Pause and return to the starting position.
3. Wall squats
Build strength and endurance with wall squats. Wall squats use something called an isometric contraction to work your leg muscles. An isometric contraction involves a lot of muscular tension but no real movement. You can do this exercise without leaving the office.
Start by standing about two feet from a wall with your back against it. Slide your back down the wall until your hips and knees bend at a 90-degree angle. Keep your shoulders, upper back, and back of your head against the wall. Both feet should be flat on the ground with your weight evenly distributed. Hold the position for the required time. Repetitions: 2 series of 15 seconds.
4. Jump rope
Jumping rope is a super convenient exercise – all you need is a cheap jump rope and a little space. Jumping rope may take a bit of time to master, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an incredibly effective way to exercise.
Try to complete as many turns of rope as possible in 3 minutes. Make sure you have plenty of room around and above you so the rope doesn’t do any damage to you.
Try to have your feet as close together as possible.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Lower into a squat position with your hands flat on the ground in front of you. Push your legs back to the push-up position and lower your chest to the floor. Return to position two, pushing both feet forward to return to a squat. Jump up and raise both hands above your head.
6. Abs and glutes training
Sitting for a long time weakens the glutes and strains the hip flexors. So activate those glutes and work your abs too with this mini workout.
First you have to lie on the ground. Next, keep your hands by your ears instead of behind your head to avoid neck strain, and bend your knees with your feet on the floor. Next, lift your shoulders and upper back off the ground with your face pointing toward the ceiling, then exhale as you go as high as you can. Hold the position for a second, then inhale as you return to the starting position. This is a beneficial exercise for the upper abdomen. You must repeat it between 15 and 25 times.
Immediately move on to the next exercise: glute bridges.
Glute bridges .
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips off the ground so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause when you’re in that position, then slowly lower your body back to the ground. Do 2 sets of 12 seconds.