Easy Ways to Move & Exercise More When You Mostly Sit All Day, According to Trainers
We’ve all heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking,” which means that not moving around enough isn’t good for your health. Long periods of sitting have been linked by research to a number of health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Less severely, sitting for a long time can make pain worse, especially if your hip flexors and hamstrings are tight. Also, it’s no surprise that sitting on your butt all day hurts it and can lead to gluteal amnesia, also called “dead butt syndrome.” This happens when your glutes get weak from sitting all day and can’t activate properly. This makes other muscles, like your quads, work harder to make up for it, causing aches and pains and putting your body out of alignment.
Jennifer Jacobs, the star instructor at BODi, tells SheKnows that sitting all day not only makes you more likely to get sick, but it can also hurt your posture, make you more likely to get hurt, and hurt your performance in workouts and in everyday life. “That’s because when you sit for a long time, your muscles get tight and don’t move much.”
The good news is that the solution is simple: move around. Below, trainers share the must-do moves you need to add to your routine to improve your posture, fire up those glutes, and keep your body balanced and healthy. Either add these moves to your workout routine or get up from your chair for 15 minutes to move around.
Jennifer Jacobs is the most popular instructor at BODi. The single leg hip hinge strengthens the glutes.
“Stand tall with your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Raise one foot off the ground so you can stand on just one leg. Keep your grounded knee in a slight bend, and keep it that way from the beginning to the end. Tense your thighs, glutes, and abs, and pull your shoulders down. While keeping your back straight, push your hips and hamstrings back and hinge at your hips to lower your torso. Your raised leg should move along with the rest of your body. Try to get your torso parallel to the floor without letting your chest go lower than the knee that is on the ground.
Bring your hips forward to stop the movement and go back to the starting position. One repetition. 8–12 reps should be done on each side.
The benefits of the All 4’s Single Arm Lat Pull Through are that it helps improve posture.
How to do it: In an all-fours position, shoulders stacked over wrists & hips stacked over knees, place one hand on a light to medium dumbbell with an overhand grip. From this position, use the side of your back to pull your hand back down toward your hip, bringing your thumb close to your hip. Return slowly to the beginning. 8–12 reps should be done on each side.
More advice: “The best kind of exercise is one that you can do every day. One of the best ways to move is to walk. Walking doesn’t cost anything and is easy to fit into your daily schedule. Try a 10 min walk 3 x day (after each meal).”
Dani Schenone is an expert on mind-body fitness.
Schenone says, “When you sit all day, your hip flexors are always tightening.” “Because you don’t stretch these muscles during the day, they get shorter and weaker. It can mess up your low back, pelvis, and posture. So those are the first muscles you should work on if you sit all day.
Lunge and hold it still
Benefits: It loosens up tight hip flexors (it’s the opposite of sitting), strengthens the hip flexors, legs, and core, and stretches tight hip flexors (aiding in better posture overall)
How to do it: Put your feet together and stand up. Take a large step forward with your right foot until you’re in a lunge position. Place your hands on your hips or lift them up towards the sky. Tilt the bottom of your pelvis up toward your belly button. Use your center. After 10 deep breaths, switch sides. Repeat 5 times on each side. Consider pulsing your legs up and down for an added challenge.
Hold hands behind your back
The benefits are that it opens and stretches the chest, loosens tight shoulders, stretches the throat muscles, corrects a hunched posture, and stretches the arm muscles.
How to do it: Stand up, clasp your hands behind your back, and pull them down your back with all your strength. Press your hips forward and squeeze your buttocks. If the back of your neck feels fine, take your eyes off the sky. For 5 breaths, hold. Let go, and do it again 5 times.
“Set an alarm on your phone to wake you up every hour and a half, even if it’s only for two or three minutes. Take that small amount of time and stretch your body. It’s easy to get into the habit, and it will do a lot for your health!”
bande’s first teacher, Amanda Jenny,
Jenny says, “If you have to sit all day, you should make sure you have good posture.” “A strong core will help to improve your posture and support your spine during long periods of sitting. You should also do exercises that lengthen the front of your body, especially your hip flexors!”
Benefits of the High Plank: “Planks are a great full-body exercise that help build core strength and get the pelvis in the right place. It’s hard not to slouch when you sit all day. Having a strong core can help you stand up straighter and support your back when you sit for a long time.
How to do it: Put your hands on your mat under your shoulders and walk your legs back to a full plank position.
Bridges \sBenefits: “When you’re seated your glutes can essentially turn off. Sitting for a long time puts pressure on our gluteal muscles and keeps them stretched out. This makes the hip flexors tight and stops the glutes from firing properly, making them less likely to work well. Bridges not only strengthen your glutes but they lengthen your hip flexors.”
How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart. Press your toes into the ground and lift your hips off the ground. As you lift your hips, work your core. Bring your hips back to the mat with care.
Lauren Eckstrom is a co-founder of Inner Dimension TV and a yoga teacher.
“It has been proven in the lab that sitting all day is bad for your health. Increases in high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other health problems are now linked to how much and how long you sit each day. Not to mention the damage that sitting all day does to your body, causing tight hip flexors, more back pain, knee problems, and neck pain, just to name a few.”
Hamstrings: Reclining Hamstring Stretch Benefits: “The backside of the body gets tighter when you sit. The back is also where you tighten your muscles when you want to protect yourself. So, if you have a job that keeps you sitting all day and you’re always stressed, you may not realize that you’re adding more tension to your tight hamstrings, which are already tight in almost everyone. When the hamstrings are tight, your low back pain and stiffness may get worse.
How to do it: “To help relieve this stress, lay down on your office floor (close the door to give yourself some privacy) and lift one leg up in the air. Your other leg can either rest straight on the floor or you can bend the knee and put the bottom of the foot on the floor. You can hold the back of the thigh or wrap a belt, towel, scarf, or yoga strap around the sole of the foot that is in the air. Here, rest for two minutes and imagine breathing into the back of the leg. Then switch sides. Do every day.”
Hips: Benefits of Reclining Pigeon: “Hip flexors tighten, which again can cause low back pain, a lack of flexibility, and, in the long run, a loss of mobility.” As you get older, falling is the number one cause of death, so it is important to stay mobile and flexible.
How to do it: Stay laying on the floor from the last pose. Bend both knees and put your feet flat on the floor, hip distance apart. Your right foot should go over your left knee. Your right foot should bend. You can stay here if you feel a stretch, or you can pull your left thigh into your chest. Here, take a 2-minute break. On the other side, do it again. Do every day.”
Reclining Butterfly Benefits: “If you are under a lot of stress and sit all day, your chances of getting heart disease or high blood pressure are even higher. Research shows that meditation and mindfulness can help reduce the effects of stress on the mind and body, so end your sequence with some much-needed self-care.
“Stay in a reclining position on your back. Bring your feet’s soles together and let your knees fall apart. You can put your hands on the floor or on your body. Close your eyes and take five deep, slow breaths. Take a breath in for the count of 4, then let it out for the count of 6. This posture works on the hips and puts you in a very slight back bend, but it is the exact opposite of the way you sit most of the day. Your body will feel better, and so will your mind. So, thank you from the bottom of your heart.”