Unless you have been living under rock recently you would’ve heard a fair amount of hype about the impact prolonged sitting has on your body.
But how bad can it be?
Well it’s pretty bad. The body is very good at doing what you ask of it. Therefore if you spend your entire day sitting in an office chair then go home and sit on the couch, your body will adapt to this by firstly shortening your hip flexor group. Without good hip mobility and strength, your ability to perform the compound lower body lifts, let alone just walk around and perform day-to-day motions, is going to be severely compromised.
Sitting will actually weaken nearly every muscle in your body through inactivity and also bogs down your circulatory system.
When you sit for prolonged periods, your glutes are totally inactive. It’s just one big static stretch, all day long, which shuts them down. Strong, engaged glutes are required for effective, natural movement.
Sitting also makes it harder to breathe with your diaphragm, especially if you slump forward when you sit, and as a result this will change your breathing mechanics over time.
Your body is designed to move.
Last month I attended a fitness certification in Boston that went for 4 days. I usually sit towards the back so I can break up the sitting by periodically standing up or squatting down without distracting people behind me. On this particular occasion every seat had been taken so for the four days I stood up for the whole 8 hours.
To my complete surprise what I had noticed was how much more alert I was. I saw others in the class nodding off by mid morning but I was completely immersed in the content. I was taking on so much more information and the combination of standing and squatting felt terrific.
So what can I do about all this sitting?
When your body stops moving it slowly starts to shut down. Standup workstations are a great way to get you out of that chair and become more mobile. They seem to vary in price depending on what you are looking for but can generally be purchased for around $300 but can go as high as $1k.
How do I go about getting a standup workstation?
I would see what your works policy is on stand up workstations, as I truly believe that if you are struggling with weight loss or general health, then this could be a real game changer.
Happy, healthy employees are productive employees. I’d do some research of your own on the hazards of sitting and collect some data relevant to your industry and present it to your boss. Failing that it would definitely be worth it to just cough up and buy it yourself. It will be one of the best investments you ever made and a tax deduction to boot.
Should I try and stand up all day?
No I certainly wouldn’t try to do the whole day standing with out a few weeks of gradual workups. Begin with 15 mins in every hour and increase by 5 mins a week until you are only sitting for 15 mins each hour.
Ensure when you stand you lengthen through your spine and distribute the weight evenly between both feet. Point your feet directly forward and tip your pelvis slightly rearwards.
Periodically do some shoulder rolls and head rotations, keep the upper body moving.
Every now and then, if clothing permits, do a few squats and try to pry the hips open. Be aware of your breathing and check that your belly moves in and out as you breathe as opposed to your chest.
Don’t forget to walk. They don’t have to be long walks, but try to do five minutes of walking every hour. Being immobile, even when standing, just isn’t as good as walking.
Hopefully reading this is will give you enough of a nudge in the right direction to make some changes. Take the stairs, park away from the shops; sit at work or at home but not both. If you’re like me and choose to sit at home, a standup work desk might be for you.