How to keep moving when you have to stay sitting?

Sshutterstock_244048687itting is bad

We know that sitting is bad, very bad. So bad that its been labeled ‘the new smoking.’ Well, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably sitting while reading these new insights, accepting that apparently sitting will be the death of me. I read article after article, blog after blog, explaining to me why evolution has not prepared me for this sedentary lifestyle. Meanwhile Tim Cook is telling me that “sitting is cancer”, and also to buy the new Apple Watch… Statistics about posture, statistics about back pain, statistics about obesity, statistics about health, statistics slapping me across the face, urging me to go back in time to the days where we were hunter-gatherers, or I will die in my office chair. Depressing. Unfortunately for most of us, sitting is the unavoidable reality. I sit while I’m working, and I work best when I’m sitting. I sit in my car, sit during my meals, and sit to relax in front of whichever show is currently my favorite. So, how do I defy death? Lay of the land; I want to be healthy, I don’t want to die, but I do spend most of my day sitting and can’t avoid it.

Dynamic sitting

 Staying active while sitting. Moving while sitting. Sound like an oxymoron? Well it kind of is, but it works! So what is dynamic sitting, and how can we all easily incorporate it to our daily life? Well for starters, we need to understand what happens when we sit still.

Static sitting

  • The abdominal muscles instinctively relax and your core weakens, often leading to the annoying fat around your belly.
  • The prolonged postural loading of the spine without movement can reduce lubrication to the joints and increase stiffness, often a leading to back-pain and discomfort.
  • The circulation in our body is reduced and can take a toll particularly on our legs.

All this worsens when the static postural habit is slouching. Hunching over our computers can place some serious strain on our lower back, upper back, and neck muscles.  Spending extended periods of time in this position can affect the shape of your body by causing tissues and muscles in various areas to weaken. None of this sounds very healthy, does it?

Become aware of your sitting

 Dynamic sitting requires that you actively maintain your body in a dynamic state, and this can be done anywhere, anytime, and with very little effort.

The first, and arguably the most important step is to become aware of your sitting. Recognize the fact that you are sitting. How are you sitting? How does sitting make you feel? What kind of chair are you sitting on? How often are you moving? Are you slouching and tired or are you upright and alert?

The trick is not to make sitting your enemy, but to allow sitting to work for you. You have to understand sitting, accept sitting, and embrace sitting. Try getting your body into the habit of avoiding still positions. So goes the saying, the best posture is the next posture.

Tips to sit actively

Most specialists recommend that we should move every 20 minutes. I know this sounds like a lot of effort, and it is. Even with my unresting desire to overcome my fated death by chair, I still can’t manage to get myself up and about every 20 minutes. Truth is, for dynamic sitting to be effective, we can do much less. Simply making small adjustments to our posture, “reorganizing” our torso, can make a worlds difference. While sitting, try to think of getting your blood circulated to all the corners of your body. Dr. Mercola explains that simply doing this can address a log of the potential problems and help keep us more fit and properly aligned.

girl stretchHere are some little things you can do right now:

  • Stretch your arms: clasp your hands together and stretch your arms over your head as high as you can.
  • Roll your neck: create a circular motion with your head, you will feel your neck release loads of tension.
  • Shake your legs: lift your feet so that they are above the ground and shake/swing your legs like a kid that doesn’t reach the floor.
  • Clench your butt: don’t think you need me to describe this one.
  • Shift your leg positions: if your sitting cross legged, switch sides, or place your feet side by side.
  • Roll your feet: lift your feet and move them in a circular motion.
  • Circle your hips and pelvis- move your hips around, pretend you are using a hula-hoop.

shutterstock_258780473An easy tip that is a sure way to get moving while sitting is listening to some good music while you work. Let your body move to the beat of your sound! Dr. Mercola explains, “The more you sit, the less your body wants to move”. Fight this habit by setting yourself small realistic goals you can keep, and practice these until they become second nature. Once you have made these little adjustments a sitting habit, you have actually accomplished a much larger goal that your body will thank you for both now and in the future.