Five exercises for sitters
I recently came across the headline ‘sitting is the new smoking’. A bit sensationalist perhaps but there’s no doubt that the long hours spent on our backsides is taking its toll. Sitting has even been listed in the new national physical activity guidelines as a separate, serious health risk.
For some of us, like those who work in transport and storage, sitting is an unavoidable part of the job. Taxi drivers, bus drivers and haulage truck drivers can’t escape spending long hours in the driving seat. As a result, those in the industry are 12% more likely than the general population to be overweight or obese and unsurprisingly 79% don’t get the recommended amount of daily physical activity.
Anyone who spends a long time sitting could benefit from short bursts of activity, repeated throughout the day. Grab a few minutes whenever possible and try these five exercises that don’t require any equipment or much space.
* If you have a health condition, it is advisable that you see your doctor to discuss the types of activities that best suit your needs. You should also consult with your doctor if you plan to start vigorous physical activity and have been inactive for some time.
1. Sit and stand
Wake up your quads, loosen your hips and generate some heat by standing up and sitting down over and over without using your hands. You might be surprised by what a challenge this is. Try it while you’re on the telephone although you should probably stop before you start breathing heavily into your caller’s ear.
If your chair is going to go scooting across the room when you do this exercise, substitute with squats.
2. Table top stretch
Using a wall, desk or even the bonnet of your car, place your hands shoulder width apart, then slowly walk your feet backwards until your back is approaching being horizontal to the ground, your arms form a straight line from your shoulders to your support and your hips are above your ankles. Push your tailbone backwards and draw your shoulders down towards your hips. This is a great stretch for the arms, spine and hamstrings.
3. Star jumps
Get your heart pumping and raise your energy levels with some invigorating star jumps. Just make sure your arms aren’t going to hit anything and if space is really tight, substitute with high knees. Okay, your colleagues may stare but they may also cheer you on or even join in the action!
4. Neck and shoulder stretch
Stand with feet hip width apart, arms hanging loosely by your sides and your spine long.
Inhale deeply and shrug your shoulders, lifting them high up to your ears. Hold for a moment then release and drop as you exhale.
Move your head slowly, first as if you are nodding and then as if you are shaking your head. Keep your shoulders relaxed and concentrate on the feeling in your neck and upper back.
5. Seated twist
If you really can’t get up out of your seat, try a seated twist. Turn to the right and grab the back of your chair with your right hand, and grab the arm or seat of the chair with your left.
With eyes level, use your right hand to help twist your torso around as far to the back of the room as possible. Hold the twist and let your eyes continue the stretch - see how far around the room you can look to exercise your eye muscles. Slowly come back to facing forward. Make sure you do this an even number of times to both sides.
* Remember, if you experience pain, then stop and seek professional advice.
Have fun and if these exercises have inspired you, have a look at our Stretches at your Desk series of short videos, designed by a physiotherapist just for you.
The happy worker :)
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