Sometimes a solution to a problem is so simple that it needs to be repeated a few times before it can be taken seriously. The problem? Stiff hips, back, shoulders and necks that are a direct result of too much time sitting. I would conservatively say that 2 out of 3 of my massage clients come in with just such complaints. Let me put that another way … nearly every person I see comes in presenting physical pain symptoms as a result of too much time sitting.
The solution? There are two, and they are easy and inexpensive.
The first solution is to take breaks every hour for 1-10 minutes of physical activity. I’m not talking a mini Zumba class or anything. Do any kind of activity that engages the whole body. Walk around the office, go up and down a flight of stairs, Stand up and wiggle your body around, do some stretches (hint, hint). Just Get that blood flowing and remind your muscles that they exist! I truly cannot overstate the importance of these physical breaks. Yes, I know we are all busy and have bosses and deadlines looming, but this is a matter of your health. Not your comfort. A stiff neck and tight shoulders are the least of your worries when is comes to sitting around all day. Some studies are now showing that prolonged sitting can trigger the same diseases as smoking does. And the more often you sit, the greater your risk. (CBS San Francisco, Healthwatch: Sitting vs. Smoking) So for your overall health, take several movement breaks throughout your day. Your mood will thank you, your heart will thank you and your stiff muscles will definitely thank you.
If you really, really, really, really can’t find a single moment in your workday to get up and move around, then you should at least compromise by getting some full body action going while still in your chair. Get a little office chair groove on while you catch up on reading a few emails. Really throw your shoulders and torso into it for maximum benefit. You may feel a little silly at first, but try it – it’s fun and a great way to perk you up!
Stop Passively Sitting
The second solution is where the “needs to be repeated” part comes in. You can transform the way your body processes sitting time by purchasing (and using, of course) an active sitting disc. I won’t go into all the details here as to why this disc is so wonderful because you can check out an old post dedicated to the benefits of active sitting. But the summarized version is this: It is inexpensive, unobtrusive, makes sitting for long periods way more comfortable and forces your core muscles to continuously fire in order to stabilize your body (as opposed to the muscles completely shutting off which they do during “normal” sitting)
See? two super simple tricks that make all that sitting a little less unhealthy.
And in case you’re not convinced on the negative side effects of sitting uninterrupted for a prolonged period of time, you can read two recent articles that outline the outright danger of this kind of chronic sitting. NPR, Sitting All Day: Worse For You Than You Might Think and NY Times, Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?
Now stop reading this and go walk around!