We sit so much because we have to sit so much. The reality of modern living is that most of us have to park ourselves in front of a computer all day in order to make a living. Making matters worse, many of us then go home and sit in front of the TV, a habit that sees some of us rack up 12 hours of sitting each day. But if all we do is sit, we drastically decrease our overall physical health. When we sit a lot, our hip flexors get tight and shorten, which translates into decreased mobility. Moreover, sitting deflates the glutes, which can lead to low back and knee issues.
I cannot overstate the many negative side effects correlated with too much sitting. Obviously, we can’t all quit our jobs simply because we are sitting down too long, but there are things we can do to lessen the negative effects of too much sitting.
Making time to come to the gym and work out is great and will help strengthen and stretch your muscles and keep you active for years to come, but we can – and should — also incorporate movement at work. Get up once an hour and walk around briefly, or even do some squats or lunges by your desk. You don’t have to commit to a mini-WoD, just some short movements. I recommend doing one lap around the office and 10 lunges and 10 squats every hour. Do that once an hour for eight hours and you’ll rack up a total of 160 lunges and squats!
Like I said, getting to the gym is great, but if you’re coming off of sitting at work for the last eight hours you need to take the time to warm up properly before you dive into a series of sprints or load the barbell. So, take the time to get warm and be sure to stretch your hips, in particular. Do a series of stretches that includes couch stretch, bridge and leg swings.
Cut the screen time
Instead of watching TV to relax you after a stressful day at work, try going for a walk or spending a little time moving around before hitting the sofa. Other activities could be a ROMWOD session, working on a project around the house, or playing with the kids. The options for active relaxation are endless and will not only help reduce the hours sitting but will also give you a better night’s sleep.
Spend the next week or so monitoring how much you sit in a day, and then make it a goal to try to reduce that total amount by at least an hour every day. That may sound drastic, but I bet you will see a dramatic increase in your health and fitness by doing so.
Duncan McNeill is a coach and co-owner at Alchemy CrossFit