If you’re like most people, you sit for most of the day—in your car, at your desk, and on your couch. On average, Americans sit for a shocking 12 hours a day, and studies link prolonged sitting with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you burn it out at the gym at the end of a long day of being in a chair. So what can be done, especially if you are working from home and may not have the best desk setup?
Brian Bradley, fitness director of Elev8d Fitness, a new, posture-based home workout program from the experts of Sonima, has a different view of things. “Sitting doesn’t have to be bad for you,” he says. “We just have to view it as another form of activity.” In his eyes, sitting isn’t the problem. Instead, the horrifying health statistics are a reflection of how we’re sitting. Most of us perch with compromised posture, meaning the spine is in a C-shape, the pelvis is tucked under, and the chin is jutting forward. This poor sitting form is what is leading to the myriad of problems.
But Why Is Sitting So Bad?
Here’s an example: You sit in front of a computer and use one hand to click and scroll with a mouse. The arm (shoulder, elbow, and wrist) controlling the mouse is moving a lot more than the other, inactive arm. This creates a muscular imbalance. And if you have not fired the deep core muscles around the shoulder blades, this one-arm mouse activity isn’t anchored and can strain the joints and spine. What’s more, an imbalance in the shoulders will inevitably throw the rest of your body out of whack.
The next time you’re in the office or a coffee shop, notice the posture of the people sitting around you. More likely than not, their backs are rounded and their hips are tucked under. This poor posture basically compresses the body, restricting the proper functioning of its various systems. For example, you can’t digest food properly with a restricted digestive tract, nor can you breathe fully with a cramped diaphragm. When you consider it this way, it’s no wonder sitting is linked to so many health issues!
How Can You Correct Your Sitting Form?
To improve your sitting and body, first change your mindset. “People assume that when you’re sitting, there’s no work going on in the body,” Bradley says. “But there should actually be a lot going on. You have to treat it as a sport.”
Before you sit down for a day of work, it is crucial to set your body into alignment. When your hips are engaged and in dynamic connection to your spine, rib cage, and shoulders, you are setting course for more functional movement for the rest of the day.
“With just a few dynamic movements at the start of the day, you can essentially prevent bad posture and all the discomfort that comes along with it,” Bradley says. Imbalances like with the mouse example above can be repaired by accessing and firing the deep stabilizing muscles in the core, from the shoulders down to the hips.
This short sequence designed and ordered by Bradley and the experts at Elev8d Fitness will prepare your body for a day of functional sitting. Each movement increasingly connects and engages the deep stabilizing muscles that are so vital to proper alignment.
The Standing Arm Circles pin the shoulder blades together and fire the mid-back, and they also access the deep hip muscles that are essential to active sitting, Bradley explains. The speed of this exercise is what requires action from the hips, so remember to keep a steady pace.
After you’ve fired up the muscles in the deep hip, the One Arm Bridge loads the shoulder to condition it to stay in the right position. This classic core exercise activates the entire length of the body for 30 seconds on each side.
Last, the Finish Line Abs kick you into high gear with a minute of rapid arm, abdominal, and hip work. The arm swing again requires the deep stabilizing muscles to fire at maximum capacity. “This last exercise is major. It’s setting you up to be able to move [and sit] from the right posture,” Bradley says.
Put them all together, and “these three simple exercises are really prepping you for better positioning to handle whatever activity you’re doing,” he adds.
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