Exercise tips, 10 workouts that reverse the damages of sitting all day in office
While you may be exercising, eating a healthy diet, and keeping your weight loss plans on track, your desk job could be making you sick. A sedentary lifestyle, which includes spending hours pinned to the desk, has been linked to a host of diseases, ranging from cancer to diabetes and heart disease. A 2017 study done by UK-based researchers even compared middle-aged office workers to sedentary elderly pensioners.
So, what makes sitting for long harmful for your body? Badal Upreeti, personal trainer at Anytime Fitness India, says that it can permanently change your body posture as well as damage your bone and joints. “A desk job harms your neck, shoulder, head and hip muscles. It can also lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Apart from the job, we tend to ignore the extra hours we sit while travelling or resting, which all adds up and has long-term effects,” says Upreeti.
Fitness expert Shivani Patel explains that the human body is designed for constant movement. “When you are perpetually active, your muscles improve their neuromuscular, biomechanical and metabolic machinery to accommodate your activity. When we are seated in the same position for hours, the body gets stiff, metabolism slows down, and oxygen and glucose transportation to the cells becomes less efficient. It convinces your muscles to accommodate the inactivity and a “scrunched” position. Over time, this creates tension, compression and other painful joint problems,” says Patel.
There is a silver lining though: Taking short, efficient breaks every 20-45 minutes can decrease the health risks of inactivity. Patel and Upreeti suggest 10 workouts to reverse the effects of sitting all day:
Planks and flutter kicks
Sitting can lower your core strength and posture. Doing planks, side planks, flutter kicks, and V-ups builds your core strength and improves posture.
Tilting your head back and forth, side to side
This exercise can relax the muscles and keep neck pain at bay. It can also relieve headaches, muscle spasms and joint stiffness.
Process: Tilt your head back until you are looking upwards. Hold this position. Slowly return slowly to your starting position. Lean your head forward, with your chin resting on your chest. Hold the pose. Slowly return to your starting position. Do 5-10 repetitions of this exercise, up to three times a day
Another variation is to keep your head straight as you slowly tilt it to one side. Hold this pose for a few seconds. Return your head to the centre. Repeat with the other side. Do five to 20 repetitions of this exercise, three times a day.
Sitting for too long can cause pain in the hip. Lunges, fire hydrants, and squats offer a good leg workout and prevent hip pain.
‘6 o’clock fingers’ stretch
“Computer keyboards can require your hands to be in the same position for most of the workday. This can cause elbow and wrist pain,” says Patel. To avoid it, this simple stretching exercise can help.
Process: Stand at the edge of a desk or counter. Place your hands on the surface. Rotate your hands so that the fingers face your body, as close to the ‘6 o’clock’ position as possible. Lean forward, bringing your palms towards the surface of the desk or counter. Make sure you are not experiencing pain or extreme discomfort. Attempt to straighten your arms at the elbow. Keeping your palms on the surface, lean back, feeling the stretch on your forearm muscles. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Side stretch for shoulders
Most people tend to lean forward while working on the computer or cradle their phone to the ear. “This can cause strain to the cervical vertebrae resulting in permanent imbalances, and one can experience neck strain, sore shoulders and back pain,” says Patel.
Process: Raise both the arms towards the ceiling. Now, fold your right hand from behind your head to place the right palm on the left shoulder. Next, bend your left hand to touch the elbow of the opposite arm. Grab and hold the elbow for 30 seconds. Repeat for the other side. Do 5-10 repetitions of this exercise.
Sitting can cause stiffness in the neck and shoulders. Exercises like rows, dumbbell shrugs, push-ups, and high planks strengthen and prevent muscle imbalance, strain, and soreness.
The desk chair swivel
Sitting in the same position can cause lower back pain. If you have a swivel chair at your workplace, you can use it to perform this basic stretch:
Process: Sit upright, with your feet hovering over the floor. Hold the edge of your desk with your fingers and thumb. Use your core muscles to swivel the chair from side to side. Go back and forth 15 times.
Core area workout
“The spine contains stacked discs that are meant to stretch and expand. While doing so, they absorb nutrients and blood that is required for functioning. But, if you do not move your spine and surrounding tissues, it will not function properly and can even lead to cause a herniated disk,” says Upreeti. He recommends exercises such as bridges, planks and core area workout. These exercises benefit the glutes and abs, and actively work the spine.
Lunges and bridges
Sitting also makes your legs and glutes weak. Your glutes and leg muscles — hamstrings, inner thighs, quads — get affected when you are sitting for long. It paves the way for decreased muscle mass and loss of overall strength. Exercises like squats, lunges, and bridges target and activate major muscle groups.
The office genie
Process: Raise your feet while seated on a stationary office chair. Place your hands on the armrest, and push upwards to raise your body off the seat. Float for 10-20 seconds. Lower your body back into your chair, rest for a minute and repeat. To add more difficulty, try this balancing act while sitting in a swivel chair.
* Sitting can lower your core strength and posture- We all know how to sit and maintain posture but we all slouch down always after and this makes our body posture affected more. Bringing movements that can isolate your midsection muscles into your workout routine will help you build your core strength and through extension we can improve posture like- think planks, side planks, flutter kicks, and V-ups.
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