As humans are bodies are designed to move. Long ago we were foraging for food, climbing trees, jumping over rivers, running to catch prey, and running away from our predators. With the birth of the electronic age, advances in technology and with the expansion of the internet things like shopping, banking, buying groceries and social interaction all can be done while sitting on your backside. How bad for your health can inactivity really be?
A poll released by the Medicine and Public Health stated people sit a whopping 56 hours a week. Sitting has even started to be branded as the new smoking. Parked behind a steering wheel, slumped over a keyboard, veg-ing out in front of the TV. You get the idea. But long periods of sitting can cause a number of health problems
- bad posture – slumping, rounding, leaning can put stress on organs in the body as well as unwanted pressure on the discs of the spine
- hip imbalances – due to tight hamstrings, hip flexors and weak glutes, which can lead to lower back pain
- inactive muscles burn less fat with blood flow becoming sluggish, increasing risk of high blood pressure and heart disease
- depression – with fewer ‘happy’ hormones flowing to the brain
There are a number of ways to become more active and move the body in the way it is meant to be used. Training is the obvious choice, but there are other actions that can be done to get your butt moving in everyday situations. As the majority of people spend most of their time at the office, lets start there.
Walk or ride a bike on the commute, get off the bus/tube a few stops early, take the stairs or walk up the escalators where possible, NEVER take the lift. There are exercises that can be done at the desk, some more secret than others depending on how relaxed the boss might be.
- Chair squats – stand tall infront of a chair, chest lifted, weight in the heels lower to a seating position one inch above the chair. Stand back up and repeat.
- Leg extensions – sit tall in a chair with both feet flat on the floor, core engaged. Extend one leg up parallel with the hip, hold and squeeze for ten seconds. Lower and repeat.
- Lateral leg lifts – stand behind holding a chair or desk. Raise one leg up laterally, flexing the foot and squeeze into the glute, Lower and repeat.
- Chest squeezes – bring your hands out in front of the chest, slight bend in the elbows, squeeze the palms together for 5 seconds release and repeat. Try knocking out some press ups with hands on the desk, or to make it harder on the floor.
- Reverse Flyes – stand feet hip width apart, slight bend in the knees fold from the hips, pushing the hips back, lowering chest parallel to the floor. Palms facing forward, thumbs out, extend both arms up sideways and squeeze into the upper back. Lower and repeat.
- Knees to chest – sitting on the edge of a chair, slightly leaning back, core engaged, bring knees to chest, slowly extend legs out straight, squeeze knees back to chest and repeat.
There are more ways to increase activity levels in everyday life without going to the gym.
Take the dog on a long walk, walk around the block a few times, to a local park or shopping centre. Park the car at the furthest space away from where you are shopping. Purchase a Pedometer (there is an app) It can be a good way to track activity levels. Set a goal for how many steps can be completed in a day. Aim for 10,000!
Evidently, the best way to increase activity levels and prevent health problems is to exercise and eat a natural balanced diet.. Take a gym bag to work, train at lunchtime or straight after work. Start the day with a workout at home. It doesn’t have to be complicated with the use of an array of equipment or training techniques or take too much time, start slow and progress. A great workout can be accomplished in 15 minutes using bodyweight limited space.
Some of these simple tips may improve mood, energy levels, and motivate us humans to get up and move!
Written by Adam