By now you’ve probably heard your desk job is killing you. It’s a splashy headline that’s made the rounds. It sounds alarmist but there’s no denying the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day. Some of which include increased risk of heart disease, increased risk of certain types of cancer, and a bevy of other nasty results. While we might not think much of it on a day-to-day basis, it turns out that most American adults remain sitting for up to 9-10 hours every day. Consider this: Between work, meals, and the daily commute, how much time does your butt spend in a chair? And that’s before you even get home and relax.
But, there’s no reason to panic. The key to combating the effects of sitting all day is to, you guessed it, get moving! We’re here to help you do just that. We’ve rounded up the consequences of prolonged sitting that we think you should know about, then did you one better by finding Aaptiv workouts to help you combat them.
5 Ways Sitting at Work is Damaging Your Body—And Workouts to Help Fight Back
Sitting decreases core strength and posture.
In a perfect world everyone remembers to sit up straight and engage their core 24/7. Sadly, when it comes to sitting at the same desk and chair day in and day out, most of us simply can’t help but slouch. This sort of relaxed, curved position disengages your core. Since that’s your body’s main squeeze (forgive the pun) it’s easy to become habitually slack and unbalanced.
Bringing movements that isolate your midsection muscles (read: abs) into your workout schedule will build your core strength and by extension improve your posture—think planks, side planks, flutter kicks, and V-ups. Oh, and sit up straight.
Aaptiv workouts for a tighter core:
Sitting puts stress on your spine.
Even if you maintain perfect posture in your chair all day long, the pressure placed on your back (and more specifically, your spine) is significant. In fact, it’s more causes more stress than standing. Here’s the breakdown. Your spine contains stacked discs that are meant to stretch and expand. In doing so, they absorb the nutrients and blood that they need. But, like all muscles in the body, if you don’t move your spine and surrounding tissue, it can’t function properly. In this case, it may even cause a herniated disk.
If this bit of information has you biting your nails (us) and considering a standing desk (also us), take a deep breath. Staying mindful of how you’re sitting and practicing good posture isn’t the only way you can ensure an active, healthy spine. Try including more bridges, planks, and core work into your daily routine. While these moves boast benefits for your glutes and abs, they also actively work your spine. This is because your back must support the other muscle groups in your body to hold these positions. Your core does include your lower back, or lumbar spine, after all.
Relieve the stress on your spine with these workouts:
Sitting weakens legs and glutes.
Speaking of legs, notice how when you’re sitting for hours on end you’re not using them? You’ve heard the classic saying: if you don’t use it, you lose it. The same applies with your glutes and other leg muscles—hamstrings, inner thighs, quads, all of it. Worst case scenario, living a largely sedentary lifestyle could pave the way for muscle atrophy (or decreased muscle mass and loss of overall strength, in non-anatomy speak).
It’s vital that you give your legs and glutes some much needed attention after a long day on the job. Squats, lunges, and bridges are only a few exercises that target and activate these major muscle groups.
Aaptiv workouts to strengthen legs:
Sitting tightens hips.
Although this area might not be as obvious as the aforementioned, your hips can also suffer from being seated for too long. As with your spine, sitting causes your hip flexors to shorten and stay compact. While there aren’t any concrete studies or proven effects on how harmful this could be, it’s safe to say that keeping such a mobile, hinge-like part of the body completely still for too long will cause its own strains and pains.
A few moves that’ll keep this part of the body stretched and warmed up are lunges, fire hydrants, and squats. A good leg workout and a major stretch? Yes, please.
Aaptiv workouts to release tension in your hips:
Sitting stiffens the neck and shoulders.
If you read the Aaptiv blog often, you’re probably familiar with the dangers of hunching and craning your neck to look down—more specifically, looking down at your phone or computer screen. Clearly this situation doesn’t only present itself at the gym, but constantly in the workplace.
We can’t help that we need to look at a screen or hold a phone to our ear to do our jobs, but we can do some things to counteract the effects on our necks and shoulders. Rows (any variation), dumbbell shrugs, push-ups, and high planks all work to strengthen and stretch these areas, preventing muscle imbalances, strain, and soreness.
Aaptiv workouts to strengthen your neck and shoulders:
Have a specific routine you like to do after a long day? Let us know by using #TeamAaptiv so we can keep more like it coming!