Have you heard? Sitting is the new smoking, in terms of what is bad for us that is. What is really ironic is that this advice comes to us in the midst of a pandemic lockdown where we have been advised to sit on our couch and stay at home.
We (should) all know why smoking is bad for us by now, that is nothing new. Although many people continue to smoke, research has been telling us for years of the damages smoking causes to our bodies.
Why is Sitting Bad for us?
Harvard Medical School reports that sitting is unhealthy for the following reasons:
it relaxes your largest muscles. Even if you’re reasonably active, hours of sitting—whether reading a book, working on the computer, or watching TV—tighten the hip flexor and hamstring muscles and stiffen the joints themselves. Overly tight hip flexors and hamstrings affect gait and balance, making activities like walking harder and perhaps even setting you up for a fall. Plus, tight hip flexors and hamstrings may contribute to lower back pain and knee stiffness, scourges that many people suffer with every day.
So, how can we Flex our Muscles Instead?
We can flex our relaxed and tightened muscles by consciously adding more activity into our daily routines. Many of us working from home are expected to spend the day on our computers. If you cannot remember to do so, set a timer to remind you to get up and move around more. Here are a few suggestions of things you can do to ensure those muscles are not stiffening up:
- Answer or make your phone calls while standing up. Walk around while you talk
- If working from home on a computer for extended amounts of time, get an adjustable computer desk so you can stand up while working.
- Sit on a stability ball, instead of in an armchair while watching TV. This activates your core muscles as you try to stay upright. You might not want to try this while using your computer.
- If your joints are aching, find exercises to keep the joints loose. Aching joints are a vicious circle, the less you move them the achier they get, but the achier they are the harder it is to exercise them.
- If you have multiple levels in your home, make a point of using the stairs as you walk around. I used to leave stuff on the steps to take upstairs in one trip, but now I go up every time. Sometimes I forget why I went up, but I do go up!
- Find online exercise routines to follow if you are used to going to the gym.
- Take up yoga, starting with beginner poses (find them online too). Work your way up to the more complicated (flexibility required) ones.
My personal in-house exercises are planks, high knees, squats, lunges, and yoga poses. I do most of these on a regular basis in the winter months when my garden business is literally buried under the snow.
Of course, if you can, get outside for your exercise, even in the winter. Fresh air and sunshine are more than just good for your muscles. They are also good for your mental health, immune system, and more.