Did you know that the average American sits for more than 11 hours a day?
This eye-opening statistic is one that can literally become “a pain in the back.”
Sitting for so long can wreak havoc on your body and even decrease life expectancy: sitting more than nine hours a day can decrease your life expectancy by 4.7 years, and this is just the start of the list.
When your body is in a seated position, blood flow is restricted and your brain function slows down due to the lack of fresh blood flow and oxygen.
Posture problems start to accumulate as you begin to notice a strained neck and shoulders from being seated at a desk or computer, extending your head forward placing undue stress on your cervical vertebrae.
While in a seated position your intervertebral discs do not have a chance to expand and contract as they would from movement to absorb nutrients and blood.
This causes them to compress and lose flexibility increasing your risk of back pain and possible disc herniation.
An easy way to help get your back moving and blood flow stimulated is to learn to sit smarter, get up more and move throughout your day.
Sitting on an exercise ball will help you engage your core muscles to help improve balance.
Incorporate easy movements like body squats, push-ups and stretching throughout your day to break up the continual sitting.
Perform these three stretches three to four times a day to help loosen up your lower back and stimulate blood flow back to your brain.
- Rotational stretch: sit in a chair with your feet flat, take your left hand and reach it over to your right knee, place your right hand behind you and start to slowly rotate to the right. Hold this position for 30 seconds and come back to the center nice and slow then perform the stretch to the left.
- Chair Dive: Reach up to the sky and slowly bend at your waist and drop your arms and head to the floor as if you were diving. Once you reach a comfortable place during this movement, hold it for 30 seconds and then return to sitting upright slowly.
Ryan Haughey B.S. CPT – ACE, SASTM is the fitness manager and personal trainer at the University Club of Michigan State University. Call him at (517) 353.5113.