Prolonged Sitting, the new smoking?
It is a modern phenomenon that the amount of physical activity we get in daily has decreased drastically, whilst the hours spent sitting in front of an electronic device have reciprocally increased.
Have you ever considered the implications this could be having on your health and general quality of life? Prolonged sitting has become a modern predictor of ill-health, with some stating that it could be as dangerous to our health as smoking and over-eating!
One thing I can definitely confirm, from the time I spend seeing patients, is that many people who come to visit me have one thing in common! The connecting factor frequently seems to be a sedentary lifestyle coupled with hours sitting at a desk (at work or at home); often combined with poor posture and work-place ergonomics. A recipe for disaster!
So, what can we do about it?
My first bit of advice is always to make small, daily lifestyle changes towards becoming more active. A 15 -minute daily walk, at a moderate pace, is already a big improvement from being totally inactive. I can guarantee that once an individual picks up this positive habit, they will aspire to ever increasing fitness goals! The feel-good factor and increase in quality of life that daily exercise can have is truly incredible!
The limiting factor to change often seems to be time. For that reason, why not try these three simple exercises? They have been selected with the goal of being office-friendly, time-efficient and require no specialised equipment. Furthermore, they aim to break poor postural habits and prevent office-acquired aches and pains!
Keep in mind:
The best therapeutic exercise is always tailor made for the individual, should you have any particular health concerns regarding your posture, aches and pain or well-being, I strongly urge you to contact your health care practitioner.
The Serratus Shrug
This simple upper body movement aims to activate the Serratus Anterior muscle and prevent an all too common rounded shoulder posture.
1. Sit upright on a chair or bench and place your hands flat on the sitting surface next to your hips.
2. Completely straighten your arms so that your elbows are locked.
3. Relax your upper back muscles and allow your torso to sink between your shoulders.
4. Press your shoulders down as you lift your upper body (imagine you’re trying to reach the ceiling with the top of your head, without lifting your bottom off the chair). Pause for 5 seconds, then lower your body back to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Sets and Reps:
3 sets x 12 reps
The Glute Bridge Reach
An innovative twist on an old favourite serves to activate under-active Glutes and to mobilize the lumbar and thoracic spine. Essential for individuals spending long hours sitting!
1. Lie on the floor, face up, with knee’s bent and feet flat on the floor
2. Relax your shoulder blades down into the ground, imagine you’re lying on sand and sinking in.
3. Initiate a posterior pelvic tilt by squeezing your bottom and flattening your back.
4. Start to raise your bottom off the floor until you reach an angle of approximately 45 degrees off the floor (resting on your shoulder blades)
5. Reach your left arm around to a pre-determined target.
6. Repeat with your right arm.
7. Slowly descend back to the starting position
Sets and Reps:
3 sets x 10 reps
The Office Chair Roll-Up
This Pilates based exercise is great to re-educate correct sitting posture and prevent low back pain. The roll-up also promotes pelvic mobility.
1. Sit upright on a chair or stool
2. Attempt to keep your lumbar (lower) spine and pelvis in a neutral position (not tilted forward or back)
3. Keep your neck long and face straight
4. Round your lower back and pelvic backwards, as if a string was pulling your tailbone backwards.
5. Your ribcage and shoulders should remain static (there should be very little change in the distance between your two thumbs)
6. Return to the upright, erect starting position (as seen below)
Sets and Reps:
3 sets x 10 reps
The above are a short selection from hundreds of great exercises to fight off sedentary lifestyles! If you do have any pressing concerns regarding a nagging injury I strongly recommend contacting your physiotherapist for a consultation and individually tailored exercise prescription.
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