When you spend too much time sitting down, you inadvertently shorten you hip flexors and compress your lower back, which in turn affect your posture, biomechanics, digestion and energy. Needless to say, paying attention to how long you've been sitting throughout the day is incredibly important.
Luckily, there are simple steps you can take every day to help reduce the effects sitting has on your body.
1. Walk more.
Before you sit at your desk in the morning, start your day by moving. Walking opens your hip flexors and gets the blood pumping through your body. Walking is one of the most natural and wonderful things you can do for your body, and most people aren't doing it enough.
So before you park your bottom down for the day, go for a 30 minute walk or aim for 10,000 steps before you make it to your desk. If you can walk to the office, that's great. If not, take an extra lap around the block, climb the stairs or get off the train/bus a couple stops early to get that morning walk in.
2. Stand every 90 minutes.
For every 90 minutes you spend sitting, get up and walk somewhere to get the blood flowing again. Leave your lunch in the car so you have to walk to get it, take the long way round to the water cooler or instead of emailing a work colleague who's in the same building, walk over to their desk to talk. The simple act of getting up every 90 minutes can help prevent the negative effects that sitting can have on your body.
3. Do the couch stretch every day.
If you one do one stretch daily, it should be this one as it allows your hips to unglue and really open up. The longer you sit, the stiffer and more gritty your joints and ligaments become.
To do the couch stretch, all you need is a wall (you can use a couch if you want, but it's not necessary). Standing with your back to the wall, place one bent knee on the ground, allowing your shin and foot to rest against the wall, with the other foot planted firmly on the ground. Slowly raise your torso up so you're standing straight and tall. Hold for a minimum of two minutes, then switch sides. You should feel the stretch in your hip flexor.
4. Do a Hindu squat.
Not only is squatting amazing for your hips, it's also great for your ankles, knees and digestive system. Believe it or not, your body is designed to be able to hang out in a full Hindu squat position comfortably for long periods of time. The only reason most of us can't is because we have sat for long periods since a young age, shortening up our biomechanics that allow us to squat naturally.
To do a Hindu squat, lower down into a regular squat. Then, instead of stopping when your thighs are parallel to the floor, continue down. Drop your butt to the floor and let your fingers sweep the ground.
Take opportunities to squat when you can. Pat your dog in a full squat, squat down and talk to toddlers at their eye level or just squat after your morning walk before you head into work. Over time, you'll really feel the difference.
5. Foam roll any tight spots.
Foam rolling helps remove any tight spots you may have in your muscles while improving blood flow and circulation. Start by foam rolling from your calves up to your hips. Roll the front, back and sides of your legs and spend 5-10 minutes doing this every day. Over time, notice how his makes your legs and muscles feel.
The benefits of caring for your body daily go far beyond just the physical aspects. When you sit for too long, your body becomes stagnant. But when you move, stretch, stand and foam roll, you're keeping your muscles, ligaments, joints and blood flowing. These five actions allow your body to naturally detoxify, gain energy, improve posture and ultimately make you feel great.