If there was a pose that defines modern day humans, it is the seated pose. In the world we live in, where upto 80% of our jobs are sedentary, sitting has quite simply become a way of life. Tired from sitting through a hard day at work, we find ourselves sitting down to unwind at home. All this sitting is a vicious cycle, unless we find a way to make it more.
What does so much sitting do to the body?
We all know that while you can’t possibly stand through your entire work day, taking a break every now and then to stand, walk and stretch is definitely a start. Even so, sitting is often unavoidable.
Too much sitting, apart from leading to chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, can even increase a person’s risk of death by as much as upto 40%. But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are several ways you can keep fit and active even while sitting at an office desk.
What can you do?
Apart from ensuring you stand up and walk a few steps throughout your day, there are many exercises that can be done seated that will not interfere with your work.
Simple exercises you can do while seated - Without any equipment
Neck rotation - Gently rotate your head first in a clockwise motion, then in the opposite direction, while ensuring your shoulders remain in a neutral position.
Shoulder stretch - Do this one arm at a time. Stretch your arm out to the side, so that it is in line with your shoulders. Now on the same plane, gently swing your arm in a smooth motion, across your chest and onto the shoulder in the opposite direction. Hold this position for 2 seconds, you can use the other hand to gently increase the stretch and hold the arm in place, as close to the opposite shoulder as possible. Repeat on the other arm.
Leg Lifts - While in seated position, with your legs bent at the knees and your feet touching the floor, hip width apart, engage your core as you gently lift both feet off the floor extending them until they form a straight line. Hold the position for a few seconds before you bring them down gently. Repeat 10 times for one set.
Simple exercises using Mini Resistance Bands
Mini resistance bands offer a more comprehensive workout while you are seated. They are so lightweight and versatile that they make for a great way to stay active during the work day. Here are a few great exercises you can try while you are sitting through your next conference call.
Targets : Quadriceps, Glutes
Position - For this set of exercises, as you are seated, place your feet within the mini resistance bands and lift the band up to your mid thigh. Pulses are rapid movements extending and contracting muscles.
Double leg pulses - In the Pulse position, engage your core and glutes as you first extend your feet up so that your quadriceps, knees and feet are in a straight line.
Now gently pull both feet apart while still maintaining a straight line with each leg. Release slightly by bringing your legs together by 3 to 4 inches, before repeating. Repeat 30 times.
Single leg pulses - In this exercise, with the mini resistance band in place across your thighs, lift only one foot off the ground to bring it into a straight line, facing forward. Now, with your core engaged and glutes activated, gently extend the whole leg away from the opposing thigh. If you start with your left leg, move the leg towards the left, for the right leg, extend it toward the right. Bring the leg back by a few inches before repeating the stretch. Repeat each leg 30 times.
Target: Core, shoulders and arms
Position- Firmly grip the mini resistance band with both hands outstretched in front of you. Keep your arms shoulder width apart. Now while seated upright, engage your core while gently twisting your upper body to the right. Hold the stretch for 2 seconds before changing directions and twisting to your left. Repeat 10 times.
Target: Arms, shoulders and chest
Position - Encircle the mini resistance bands around your wrist. Extend your arms up, in front of you till they are in line with your shoulders. Maintain shoulder distance between the arms. Now bend the elbows at a 90° angle so that your wrists and knuckles are facing upwards. Now gently extend each arm outward in opposing directions. Ensure that the movement is at the shoulders and not at the elbows. Once fully extended, bring the arms back toward each other by about 3 to 4 inches before stretching once again. Repeat 20 times
Bow and Arrow
Target: Shoulders and arms
Position: hold the mini resistance band with both hands. Now extend your right arm out in front of you so that your right shoulder, elbow and wrist are in a straight line, as if you were holding a bow out in front of you. Extend the left hand towards the left shoulder as though you are about to release an arrow. Repeat 10 times before switching arms.
Adding resistance training to your workday is a safe way to stay fit and strengthen your muscles, even as you stay seated for a large part of the day.