Unfortunately, many of us have jobs where we are to 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 seems to increase 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 almost 12 hours sitting down. Even an hour’s exercise 3-4 times per week does not cancel out this much inactivity.
BUT… There is a simple solution! Studies also suggest that getting up and moving regularly throughout the day can counteract the negative effects of sitting all day.
Tips to Increase Overall Activity Throughout the Day
- 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.
On top of the increasing overall activity throughout the day, you can use the 6 stretches below to balance out the restrictive sitting position, try and do them three times per day – as soon as you wake up, during your lunch break and right before bed.
You may feel that this all seems a bit excessive but I can assure you it’s entirely necessary. Your joints and muscles work on a use it or lose it basis – as soon as you stop moving in certain ways you will lose the ability to move through your full range of motion. You may not notice this happening, but over long periods of time (sitting at a desk for your entire working life) will end up being seriously debilitating and can lead to real problems in later life.
Following these simple steps over time can have a profound effect on your overall flexibility, mobility and quality of life. Small changes over time reap long lasting benefits.