Nearly 4% of all deaths are due to us spending more than three hours a day sitting down, a study published last year in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine claims.
Most of us spend at least three hours in a chair every day – usually much more. The lifestyle factors that “sitting disease” represent are a lack of exercise and general sedentary behaviour. It’s also making us biologically older by about eight years than more active counterparts, says another study published this year in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Being stuck for long periods in a position that’s not natural has a specific effect on our bodies. Not to be blunt, but our bums suffer. The 90-degree angles of the chair teach our powerful glute muscle group to switch off, along with our core, and then tightens up the hip flexors – the bands that connect our thighs to our hips. This all results in poor posture when we’re standing and moving, which means that we’re more likely to injure ourselves or have a hard time when we finally get up to go for a spot of exercise.
The solution? Three simple exercises that will activate glutes and core plus extend hips. Do these three times a day, and it’s a half hour less you’ll have been sitting for.
Take a step with your right leg and slowly drop your left knee down until it almost touches the ground. Pause slightly then push off, taking most weight on your right (front) leg. Step forward with your left and repeat. Take 20 steps. You can hold hand weights to increase the challenge.
Stand on your left leg and find your balance. Lift your right knee and right arm. Holding your balance, slowly lean over and touch your right hand to the ground in front of your left toe, pushing your right leg out to the back. Straighten up and reach back up to the sky. Do this five times then swap legs. Add repetitions as you advance.
Lying on your back, bring your feet close to your bottom. Raise your hands in front of you and push up through your hips to form a bridge. Hold this for 30-60 seconds, continually reminding yourself to push upwards through the hips. For more of a challenge and to ensure one side of your body is not being lazy, take your weight on your left leg and straighten your right leg. Think about keeping your hips level and high. Hold for 30 seconds then swap legs.