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Sitting Too Much? 5 Easy Exercises May Help

A phrase trending in the exercise community is that “sitting is the new smoking.” In recent months many of us have found ourselves glued to a chair — whether because we are distance working, helping a child with schoolwork or relaxing. But the human body was not designed for hours of sitting, and the resulting health problems extend beyond stiff necks and back pain. Long, sedentary stretches usher in a number of body woes, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, deep-vein thrombosis and metabolic syndrome. 

Prolonged Sitting and Screen Use Increases Harm

Too much sitting is harmful for the brain, too — studies show that it is linked to chronic conditions such as dementia, anxiety and depression. Not surprisingly, prolonged TV viewing, internet and screen use also are contributing factors in increased depression due to a sedentary lifestyle, according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

As we get back up on our feet and embrace living, we need to do so for many reasons. 

5 Easy Exercises to Get You Up and Moving 

Taking the time and effort to return to a more active lifestyle is often easier said than done. Here are a few exercises that can help:

  1. Sit to Stand: This is an easy exercise that works the quads, hamstrings and glutes. All you need is a chair (preferably 18” high). Begin sitting up nice and tall with shoulders back and with a tight core. Feet should be under the knees with legs at a 90-degree angle. Push up from your heels to a standing position, making sure not to lock out the knees. Repeat 12-15 times for two to three sets.

  2. Push-Ups: Push-ups are a total upper body exercise that can be modified easily. Make sure that hands are flat and shoulder-width apart. Be sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and not to drop your back as you are descending. If you cannot get down on the floor, position yourself against a stable surface such as a countertop or a desktop. Tuck the hips to achieve a plank position. Lower chest to the surface of where you are and push up without locking the elbows. Repeat 12-15 times for two to three sets.

  3. Plank: The plank has a similar position as the push-up. Planks can be performed with your elbows and forearms, or with your hands flat and arms extended. Be sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight, do not drop your back and do not push your hips upward — stay nice and flat. If you cannot get down on the floor, position yourself against a stable surface such as a bench. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Add seconds each time you do the exercise. If consistently done, you can increase your core strength  because of the plank’s isometric nature. This means that tension is developed due to the contraction. 

  4. Leg Swings: Leg swings are a simple yet effective exercise that can get your blood flowing and help loosen up muscles. Stand tall with core muscles tight. Swing each leg side to side and front to back. Repeat on each side, two to three sets of 12-15 repetitions.

  5. Hip Bridge: A hip bridge is a terrific way to work the glute muscles and hamstrings and isometrically work the core, engaging the hips and the lower back. Position yourself on your back, either on the floor or on an elevated table. Bend your knees, push up through your heels and push your hips to the sky, squeeze your glutes and drop back down. Repeat 12-15 times for two to three sets.

Combat the Sedentary Blues

Standing or walking while you make phone calls or swapping a chair for a stability ball are among the suggestions given by Harvard Medical School. These researchers and others are concerned with how hours of sitting can affect our posture and weaken our core muscles. Over time, poor posture can result in neck and back issues, making it difficult to perform our activities of daily living. Whether you are a novice exerciser or exercise has been a constant in your life, these exercises can help to reduce sitting and get you out of your chair.

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The NTC, part of Orlando Health South Lake Hospital, is a state-of-the-art sports and fitness facility located in Clermont, Florida.

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