An increasingly sedentary lifestyle has seen a dramatic increase in our size over the last decade. This is bad news not only for our body image, but also for our health, especially if you suffer from conditions or disabilities that affect your mobility.
Excessive sitting can cause your back muscles to tighten and your abdominals to soften, both of which leads to poor posture. Lack of movement and consequent poor circulation can also affect the soft cartilage discs in your spine, starving them of fresh blood and nutrients. The discs can become hardened and unhealthy, causing back and neck problems.
Weight-bearing activities like standing and walking encourage the bones in your legs and lower body to become stronger and denser. Lack of activity can predispose you to conditions like osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease.
Clearly, regular physiotherapy sessions can help to keep your mobile, but what else can you do to help your wellbeing if you have a job or lifestyle that involves long periods of sitting?
A solution to the problem
The solution to the problem of enforced sitting for long periods is a relatively simple one; move more! You should get up from your sitting position every hour and move around, even if you only walk as far as the kettle and back again.
If you have a job that entails sitting for long periods and you're unable to take a break, here are some exercises you can discreetly carry out whilst at your desk. The idea is to work your muscles, stimulate your circulation and burn a few calories.
This is a really easy exercise that's great for relieving a 'numb bum' and for toning it too!
- Clench your buttocks both at once, then alternately, as hard as you can. Hold for a few seconds then repeat.
- Keep going until you can't do anymore. Repeat this every couple of hours throughout the day.
- Place your feet flat on the floor and sit up tall.
- Pull your abdominals in tight. Lift one leg until it's on a level with your hip, and hold that position for 10 seconds. Slowly lower your leg.
- Repeat 10 times and then change legs.
- Put your legs out straight in front of you and cross one on top of the other.
- Raise both legs off the floor and press the top leg down whilst resisting with the bottom one.
- Keep going until your muscles are tired, then swop your legs over and repeat the exercise.
Regularly sitting still for long periods of time can result in serious health problems. Whether you have a job that keeps you chained to your desk for hours at a time, or a health condition that means you have to spend much of your day seated, it's important that you keep your circulation moving and your muscles as active as possible.
Try the routines suggested above and have a chat with a local physiotherapist for more advice on how to relieve back and joint problems.