Leading a sedentary lifestyle, especially for those who work in offices is quite harmful to the body. Research has linked excessive sitting with an increased risk for health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It doesn’t mean you’ll get heart disease just because you have a desk job, but sitting excessively isn’t ideal for your general health.
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Sitting for long periods of time, especially with poor posture, makes your hip flexors tight, which causes the glutes or butt muscles to lengthen to compensate. Over time, this compromises the ability of the gluteal muscles to activate properly, leading to a condition called gluteal amnesia. When your glutes can’t perform their function effectively, other muscles in your body have to work harder, which eventually can overburden them, leading to poor body alignment and aches. Tight hip flexors also make it harder for your pelvis to rotate properly inhibited mobility in this area can cause compression and pain in the lower back.
Though sitting for most of the day isn’t healthy, there are some ways you can help undo the damage.
Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., founder of TS Fitness in New York City, recommends standing up for at least 30 to 40 minutes a day or getting a standing desk as it will help you become more aware of your posture and engage your core muscles.
Tamir to put together a great workout that can help undo some of the negative effects of sitting all day. According to him;
“These exercises are designed to strengthen the core, work the posterior muscles of the body, engage the legs, and help with proper pelvic and spinal alignment. Together, these moves help to compensate the imbalances linked with long periods of sitting.”
According to Tamir, this exercise focuses on the stabilizer muscles of the core such as the transverse abdominus.
“So much of posture starts with the core and this move gives you feedback from the floor” on how to use these muscles properly so your body is aligned.
- Lie on your back with your arms at shoulder level raised toward the ceiling. Bring your legs up into tabletop position with knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips.
- Gradually spread your right leg out straight, while concurrently dropping your left arm overhead. Keep both a few inches from the ground.
- Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side, extending your left leg and your right arm. That’s one rep. Continue alternating for 20 reps total.
Tamir said deadlifts mainly work the hamstrings, glutes, core, lats, and traps. Strengthening these muscles helps to reverse the poor posture that tends to befall those of us who sit all day. “When performed correctly, without too much weight and keeping the back in a safe position, deadlifts are one of the most useful exercises to improve posture.”
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- Stand with a kettlebell on the floor between your legs. Use dumbbells if you don’t have kettlebell.
- Keeping your back flat, hinge at your hips to push your butt back and bend slightly at the knees to pick up the kettlebell.
- Straighten your legs as you pull the kettlebell up to hip level, locking your hips out at top.
- Lower the kettlebell back down to tap the floor slowly, reversing the hip-hinge movement you used to pick up the kettlebell, then repeat immediately.
- Perform 15 reps.
Single-leg bridges help engage the gluteus maximus, which is the largest glute muscle and the core and hamstrings, says Tamir. Keep these bridges slow and controlled while focusing on using your glutes to do the movement.
- Lie flat on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor about a foot or so away from your butt. Rest your arms at your sides on the floor.
- Lift your right leg in the air toward the ceiling, keeping your foot loosened.
- Push through your left foot to lift your glutes, hips, and back off the ground.
- Gradually lower back down, keeping your right leg in the air.
- Repeat for 12 reps, before switching legs.
It’s vital to focus on having proper pelvic alignment and not rounding the back, Tamir notes. Planks can help to both reinforce the core and recover pelvic coordination.
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- Go on all fours with your toes on the ground shoulder-width apart. Place your forearms flat on the floor in front of you with your elbows in a straight line below your shoulders.
- Keep your core tight so your body is in a straight line from head to toe.
- Squeeze your thighs and butt.
- Keep your neck and spine in a relaxed, neutral position.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
For this technique, Tamir explains; “You’re working back and shoulder muscles including the rhomboids, traps, lats, and rear deltoids. “A lot of posture flaws can be attributed to an imbalance of strength between the chest and the back, with the chest being more dominant. Rows can help balance that out.”
- Hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and hinge slightly at your hips so that your torso is leaning forward.
- Keeping your body in this position, row the dumbbell up to chest level, keeping your elbow toward your side.
- In a controlled motion, lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for 15 reps, then switch arms.
According to Tamir, this exercise primarily works the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core muscles. Sitting for long periods of time causes our hips to get tight because they are in a shortened position. Doing squats gets us to sit back in our hips, past the range of motion that we’re used to when sitting at a desk.”
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Holding a kettlebell or a dumbbell with both hands at your chest (you can also use a dumbbell).
- Bend at your knees and hips to lower your butt toward the ground, as if you’re sitting in a chair.
- Go as low as you can, then push through heels to stand back up. Ensure your knees don’t go past your ankles.
- Repeat for 15 reps.
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