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Please don’t sit, especially when you’re exercising

By Shayleen Pastick, LPT, Elite Trainer

There’s a recent health trend all over the news, “Sitting is the new Smoking.” The point being that the more you sit, the less healthy you become. This is a medical fact. As fitness professionals we know how much our clients have to sit for work, for travel, family time around the holidays, etc.

Every one of my clients over the age of 50 who have smoked in the past have dropped that habit and also intentionally exercise for a minimum of 3 hours a week (many are in the 6 hour plus club). However, due to professional constraints and lifestyle changes, many people continue to sit for more than 8 hours a day. We know for a fact that the more you sit the less likely you are to live a long and able bodied life. Sitting weakens muscles, it tightens muscles (especially your hip flexors), leads to balance loss and cardiovascular endurance loss as well. These are all things we want to try to avoid and train out of as much as possible.

Here are 5 ways you can avoid sitting too much.

1. Don’t sit for more than 20 minutes. Wait a second, I’ll be right back! (Shay stands up, places hands on low back, and gently leans back) Ahhhh! Ok… Never let 20 minutes go by at your workstation without a physical break from sitting. You can simply stand up. Even better, stand up and stretch your back! Even better, stand up, go to the water cooler or the bathroom etc… and then back to work! You catch my drift. Your back, hips and knees will thank you for even the smallest of breaks from continued sitting.

2. Take the stairs, if you’re able to, whenever possible. The calories will add up fast and there’s a tremendous daily activity accumulation benefit to implementing behavior like stair walking instead of elevators. Be careful if you’re in a ramping up stage of your fitness level to do so gradually, as with all things fitness.

3. Sip water throughout the day. Everyone is different and nobody should be chugging down pints of anything. But sipping water throughout the day (at your own pace) can lead to hydration and normal bathroom breaks. You know you’re hydrated when your urine is clear and does not have a strong smell.

4. Park far away. Don’t go for that rockstar parking spot! I know it’s tempting, but parking as far away from your destination as the lot allows can bring much needed daily activity to your life outside of the gym.

5. Walk 20 minutes a day. Make sure you’re walking at least 20 minutes a day, even if it’s shopping. I can thank my dogs for that reminder. It all adds up at the end of the year. Not one single day should go by where you’re not walking at least 20 minutes.

So there’s 5 easy ways to build more activity into your daily life, and undo the harmful effects of sitting.

Now, for sitting while exercising. We only have one bench at Vitality for a reason, and the bike that we have is an upright bike. If we know that sitting is detrimental to your health, and you are able bodied, please don’t sit, not even for one second while you are working out. Substitute chairs for balls, work from standing, single leg stance, use a staggered stance, go to kneeling and half kneeling, or split squat positions instead of sitting. These positions all have tremendous positive neuromuscular effects on your workout.

When choosing a bike, if you can, go upright, go for it! The upright position allows your hips and knees to work more powerfully. Upright bikes also promote more core involvement and allow better torso positions to breathe from than a recumbent bike. The best cardio on the planet is ground based walking, hiking, running and rowing depending upon your fitness level, talking strictly cardio, not conditioning.

For those of us with diseased knees like myself, the bike is a no-brainer go-to for the range of motion and lack of impact. If you have a choice with your exercise modality, choose wisely. Please always consider contacting one of our trained professionals to help you make personalized decisions when it comes to your fitness and wellness plan. That’s Vitality, and we’re proud of it. Hope you enjoyed my blog, now get up and get some water.

April 30th, 2015 Posted in Health News, Sitting, Tips & Recommendations