Here’s What You Don’t Know About Sitting and How it Can Affect Your Posture

11 Min Read

How many hours do you sit in a day? 

Think about your day and add up the hours in which you sit. For most of us, we don’t stop to think about how much time we sit, we sit at the breakfast table, we sit in the car, we sit at our desk, we sit at lunch, back in the car, we sit at home, we sit as we talk with family and friends, we sit while we watch TV and we sit…and we sit…

It takes less energy to sit than it does to stand or move. Numerous health problems have been related to prolonged sitting, according to research, among these conditions are obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels that make up metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions. The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer appears to be increased when people sit for long periods of time.

So how many hours do you sit? Now that you have added up you sitting time, are you at risk?

LOW risk indicates sitting less than 4 hours per day.

MEDIUM risk indicates sitting 4 to 8 hours per day.

HIGH risk indicates sitting 8 to 11 hours per day.

VERY HIGH risk indicates sitting more than 11 hours per day.

By making simple lifestyle changes we can make big strides to lead healthier lives.

 

It’s important to take breaks and walk around whenever possible. Breaking up the day into smaller, more manageable chunks is a great way to increase your overall output. Allow yourself some time to get out of your chair and stretch, grab a coffee, or take a little break. Every hour or so, get up and move around, even if it’s just to use the restroom or get a drink. Take phone calls standing up. Don’t overlook the opportunity to meet in person. Make an effort to meet with a coworker in person rather than sending an email, as this will ensure clear communication and a faster response time. Take the stairs whenever possible. Use your lunch break to take a walk.

Sitting for prolong periods of time can affect your posture.

To improve your posture while sitting at a your desk, ensure that you change your position frequently and stretch multiple times. Desk workouts are a great way to keep your body moving and engaged throughout the day. Stretch! Twist and turn your fingers, arms, legs, and neck (appropriately). Improve your posture and neck position and pain by learning a few exercises you may do every hour that really work. Stress reduction, increased blood flow, and improved concentration and alertness are all enhanced when you move and stretch on a regular basis.

To begin warm-up with some deep breathing exercises.

While sitting upright in a chair with head aligned with your spine, exhale forcefully, breathing out as much air as you can. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Strengthening your shoulders also does wonders for your posture. Let’s say you spend long hours sitting, hunched over your computer or phone—your shoulders have likely adapted by rounding forward. Training yourself to pull them back into proper position can help undo that.

Shoulder Stretch and Roll

Roll your shoulders forward 5 times, then roll shoulders back 5 times.

Next, extend your wrists and interlace your fingers, palms facing away from your body. Raise your arms to shoulder height, elbows extended, palms away from your body.

Seated Push-ups

While sitting upright, grab side of the chair as though you’re trying to lift yourself. Lift your buttocks off the chair, keep elbows slightly bent and hold for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.

Isometric Shoulder Contraction

While sitting upright, grab the underside of your chair, lift yourself as if you’re trying to lift the seat of your chair while you’re sitting on it. Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.

Chest Stretch

Extend both arms out to your sides. Keep them at shoulder height and bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle,, so you look like a football goal post. Pull your shoulder blades down,, and together, keeping that shoulder blade engagement, lift your arms slowly overhead. Return arms to starting position.

Chin Tucks

Many people’s cervical spine tilts forward, causing them to struggle with a forward head and rounded shoulders. This can lead to neck pain and chronic headaches. On the other hand, this is a great exercise you can do while sitting or standing. The goal is to work on stacking your cervical vertebrae (the bones in the neck),, so they’re in a neutral position.
To do this exercise, start by sitting up straight. Next sit upright and look straight ahead with the ears directly over the shoulders. Place a finger on the chin. Without moving the finger, pull the chin and head straight back until a good stretch is felt at the base of the head and top of the neck. Make sure it goes straight back — don’t lift your chin toward the ceiling. Hold this position for five seconds, taking note of your posture. Feel the muscles in the back of your neck strengthening. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Chair/Desk Stretch 

Stand facing your desk or the back of your chair.  Place your hands on the desk/chair, shoulder-width apart.
Walk back until you feel a stretch through your arms and your hips are in line with your heels. Have your feet parallel and hip-distance apart. Now bend your knees and let your sitting bones sink toward the floor as much as possible. Hang out and feel the stretch in your armpits. Slowly begin to straighten your legs by lifting your front thigh muscles. Pull back through your sitting bones toward the wall behind you. To keep the curve out of your lumbar spine, lengthen your buttocks away from your waist.
Check that your ears are in line with your upper arms. Breathe wide across your upper back. Now holding your hips in place, stretch the crown of your head. Stretch through your side body. Take a few long, soft breaths, hold for 30 seconds.

Spine Extension

Sit up tall. Focus on an object at eye level while you slowly tuck your chin inward and pull yourself up as if there is a rope pulling the back of your head upward. Maintain the position for 10 seconds, relax and repeat ten times.

Upper Back Extension

Your upper back (or thoracic spine) is meant to be mobile. So if it gets stiff, areas above (neck) and below (low back) have to move more to achieve full function. Sit forward and tall in your chair. Place your hands on the back of your neck to prevent movement at the neck. Slowly look up towards the ceiling by raising your elbows. Return to starting position and repeat 5 times.

Spinal rotation

Our spines are meant to move in all directions; we need to keep our spines flexible. Sit tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place one hand on your opposite knee and the other on the seat behind you. Gently rotate your torso toward your hands. You can gently press on your knee if it feels good to increase the twist. Hold for 15 seconds, taking slow, deep breaths, then switch sides and repeat. Do two or three 15-second holds per side.

Shoulder Contraction

To extend your upper back, rest both hands on your desk while seated. Arms straight, back round. Gently press your hands into your desk while inhaling to extend your upper back. Exhale five times.

Seratus Punch

Start in a seated position with feet on floor, arms extended directly in front of body and shoulder level, hands in fists, palms facing down. Move fists forward while keeping back straight and not leaning torso forward or folding and waist. Pull arms back to starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Reach for Your Toes

Sitting in the middle of your chair, extend your legs straight out in front of your body. Slowly bend over and reach for your toes, hold the position for 5 deep breaths, repeat 5 times.

Figure 4

This pose stretches the deep hip muscles to help combat lower-body tightness and back pain. It targets the areas that often get tight due to long periods of sitting, especially in people with sciatica. Sit tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Cross one ankle over your opposite thigh, just above your knee. Gently press the knee of your raised leg down toward the floor, allowing your torso to lean forward slightly as you do. Hold there for 15 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Do three 15-second holds per side.

 

Once you become aware of slouching and bad posture, it’s much easier to correct and actively maintain good posture.

 

Remember to always consult with your health care professional before beginning any exercise program.

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