How To Balance Out Sitting Down All Day For Better Mobility, Health and Fat Loss
Unfortunately, many of us have jobs where we are sitting for extended periods of the day. Sitting is so bad for our health it has been described as “worse than smoking”. Research suggests that sitting for long periods of time raises a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — the umbrella term for conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting also increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Let me give you a little more detail to help you visualise it. The average commute in Central London is 45 minutes, most people sit for this (if possible), they then spend an average of 7-8 hours sitting at their desk. Add another 45 minutes on the way back only to get home and sit down in front of the TV for an hour or two. That’s 12 hours sitting down. Even an hour’s exercise 3-4 times per week does not cancel out this much inactivity.
BUT… There are many things you can do to improve your situation.
My Tips To For Balancing Out Sitting All Day
- Get a standing deskI know the idea of standing all day may sound awful, but it has been one of the most powerful things I have done for my day to day life. I am more productive, more active, less stiff and I have more energy. This may sound counterintuitive, but when you understand that inactivity promotes inactivity it makes sense. When I used to sit down all day at my desk, I would then fight for a seat on the tube on the way home, even though I had been sitting down all day! I’m sure many of you have had the same experience, sitting down saps your energy levels.Over the last 5 years as a Personal Trainer, the most common issues I have had to deal with my clients are inactive glutes, tight hip flexors and lower back pain. They are in fact caused by the same issue – sitting down all day. You can neutralise these issues by standing up more throughout the day and incorporating some daily stretches.Additionally, you will increase your fat burn quite dramatically just by standing. Standing has been shown to burn 50 calories more per hour than sitting. So, if you replace 8 hours of sitting with 8 hours of standing, that’s 400 calories burnt in a day!My desk is from Ikea, and it goes up and down. This is a really good way to ease your way into standing. Initially, you can start with a few hours sitting and a few hours standing and gradually work your way up to standing all day.
I cannot stress the benefits of having a standing desk enough, do everything you can to get a standing desk at your place of work and reap the postural, energy and fat burning rewards!
- Get laptop/screen stand with a wireless keyboard and mouseIf you can’t get a standing desk, there are things that you can do to improve your situation. Having your laptop at eye level and your keyboard at the right height can drastically improve your body position, you go from being hunched over your desk to sitting upright with a neutral spine. Many people suffer from neck pain and migraines which are often caused by spending time every day hunched over their laptops. Most employers will agree to purchasing the equipment you need to optimise your seated position, especially if you get a doctor’s note explaining the details of your neck/lower back pain.
The ideal height for your laptop is eye level
The ideal height for your keyboard and mouse is so your elbows are at a right angle, you can adjust the height of your seat to achieve this.
- Move More!It has been shown that getting up and moving regularly throughout the day can counteract the negative effects of sitting all day.
My tips to move more:
- Set a reminder on your phone for every hour and spend 5 minutes moving and stretching whenever the alert goes off.
- Stand up on your commute. I know this may sound like a horrible idea, but this is a simple way to activate all the muscles that have been inactive all day.
- Take the stairs, not the escalator or lift. When it comes to physical activity on a day to day basis, always try and challenge yourself. Don’t take the easy option.
- Take your trainers into work and get off 1 or 2 stops early and walk/run the rest of the way home. This is a simple, but effective way to increase activity without having to make time to go to the gym.
Here are 6 exercises that you can do to balance out the negative side effects of sitting down all day.
Incorporate movement into your daily routine
Our bodies are designed to move and unfortunately, our joints and muscles work on a “use it or lose it” basis. If you spend a significant amount of time locked in a restricted range of motion, you will lose the ability to move freely and with ease.
Having said that, incorporating daily movement practice can be an incredibly effective way to balance out the negatives sitting down all day. Just 5-10 minutes daily practice can make a huge difference.
How to incorporate movement into your routine:
Stretch right before bed
Not only will this improve the quality of your sleep by releasing tension and encouraging mindfulness, but you will also improve your flexibility quite dramatically with consistent practice. If you want to further optimise your pre-sleep routine – find out how to fall asleep straight away.
Stretch as soon as you wake up
Getting up and moving first thing in the morning will set you up for the day – every watched a cat or dog stretch right after waking up!? If your pet has enough sense to do it, you can too!
Netflix and stretch
This is a great way to add more movement into your day, get off your sofa and onto your yoga mat, you can still enjoy relaxing and unwinding watching your favourite TV show, but by adding some stretching whilst you watch, you could end up stretching for a whole hour!
Stretch on the tube
I don’t use the tube much because I have a motorbike, but when I do you can expect to see me hanging on the handlebars. Hanging can greatly improve the health of your shoulders and lengthen your chest muscles, which can alleviate tightness in your neck.