We sit on our ass a lot. Whether you are watching TV, playing a video game, at your desk, in a meeting, in your car, on a train, on a plane. Sounds like I am about to go into green eggs and ham and while thankfully I am not, it is true that most of us are usually seated firmly on our backside while we stuff our face.
Why is this important? After all, everyone loves to sit. Our society, from our institutions to our homes are filled with places to get off our feet and sit. The truth however is not so good for the relaxing crowd. Many studies now show inactivity as more dangerous than smoking for an increased risk of heart disease and early death. Prolonged sitting is also heavily (pun intended) associated with weight gain, diabetes and chronic back pain. We could talk for hours about the health risks and their exercise related cures, but for today in the spirit of the holiday in which many of us are relaxing and at least a few more days away from the magical motivator of Jan 1st, we shall focus on a couple of simple Santa helpers to get you through.
- Pump your Calves– Throughout the day, periodically flex your calves by pulling your toes towards your shins and then pushing them away as if pushing down on the gas pedal in you car. This increases circulation and helps to push blood back towards your heart.
- Flex your Butt– Besides being fun for everyone, flexing your glutes helps to offset the “switching off” your glutes experience from prolonged sitting. Pretend you are trying to capture a quarter between your butt cheeks, hold a few seconds relax and repeat. Try to do 10-20 reps an hour. Don’t hold your breath!
- Sit Tall– Offset postural stress due to the abdominals being fairly unused as you sit. Sit up tall so that you form a straight line from your ear, to shoulder and hip. Top it off with slightly drawing in the abdominals as if you wanted your waist to look as small as possible. Don’t forget to breathe! Don’t stress and keep working on it until you are strong enough to maintain it.
- Walk About– Get up and walk often. Hourly would be great, but if that’s impractical at least once every three hours including lunch. Studies show that even 10 minutes walking after eating helps the body to process the food you just ate.
These tips are simple, but work wonders if performed consistently. Happy Holidays!