On average we spend about 7 hours a day sitting, thus we are spending about half of our waking hours inactive. This lack of movement has harmful effects on our bodies and it has been said “sitting is the new smoking“. From a more qualified voice than mine, Dr. James Levine says,
“Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease”.
Basically inactivity has harmful effects on the body and must not be ignored.
To be more active we need to stand more and that goes for kids and adults alike. How do we stand more, you ask? It’s pretty simple really. Walk places you would normally drive to, exercise daily and get a stand up desk. Standing more in the workplace will not only increase activity to aid in a healthier lifestyle, but will also increase productivity since sitting is associated with resting and standing is associated with activity.
This is also true for children as well. Just recently a school in San Rafael, California has partnered with Stand Up Kids and has placed standing desk in almost all of their classrooms. Founder Juliet Starrett believes,
“Standing desks are a simple and elegant way to create a movement rich environment where children are more engaged and perform better academically, burn more calories, eliminate or minimize orthopedic problems and disease, feel happier and just plain move more.”
The kids and teachers are loving the new desks and kids are excelling in the classroom!
We do not need to stand all day and the reality is that we won’t because sitting can’t be avoided. However any sitting we do has a harmful effect on our body and we must have methods to undo the sitting. This is where mobility comes in. 3 of my favorite hip exercises to help restore your body after sitting are listed below. Aim to do each of these stretches for a minimum of 2 minutes a day, and often a great time for stretching is when watching TV. You will even hit two birds with one stone that way: less time sitting and also enhancing your mobility. It’s really a WIN WIN!
Couch Stretch: This stretch helps you regain hip extension by lengthening your quads and hip flexors that have been shortened while sitting. To perform this stretch you don’t need a couch, as it can also be done on a wall. Make sure your foot is directly behind you and your core and glutes are squeezed tight.
Paleo Squat Chair: This stretch helps you open up your hip, increase your ankle range of motion. To perform this stretch just go to to the bottom of the squat and stay there. While in the squat make sure your knees are tracking out, feet are facing forward and your torso is upright.
Pigeon Pose: This stretch helps stretch your hip rotators, hip flexors and glutes. It can be performed on the floor or standing and placing your leg on a raised object such as a table. Make sure to keep your hips square, glutes tight and lean forward to increase intensity.