The 3 Workouts You Should Do If You Sit All Day, According To A Fitness Trainer
Sitting all day long doesn't feel good for anyone who does it. Unfortunately, though, it's an unspoken prerequisite of many office jobs and school environments, and you don't really have much say when it comes to being sedentary for the majority of the day. However, the results of a new study show that there are a few really effective workouts you can do if you sit all day that'll counteract the negative effects that the chair-ridden lifestyle can sneakily bring about. Hint: The workouts are actually super easy, and definitely don't require a gym membership if you're not about that.
In a new study published in the scientific journal Experimental Physiology, researchers used a special kind of ultrasound technique to see how a person's lower-body blood circulation is affected by prolonged periods of sitting. According to ScienceDaily, researchers recruited 18 healthy, young-adult men for the study and measured their blood circulation with the ultrasound technology both prior to and after 10 minutes of sitting, "or during a period of rest whilst lying down, with or without leg exercises." The leg exercises included simple, back-and-forth motions of the foot, performed every two seconds, for one-third of the time spent lying down.
According to the study, the ultrasound's readings revealed that the blood flow in the participants' legs was, indeed, reduced by being sedentary for just 10 minutes — but after being instructed to perform leg-focused exercises, the volunteers' blood flow soon returned to normal. In other words, sitting for long periods of time definitely isn't good for your body, but what's even more concerning is that the negative effects — i.e. reduced blood flow throughout the body — can start to happen after just 10 minutes of sitting. And if you're working or in school full-time, I'd imagine you're probably doing a whole lot more sitting than 10 minutes at a time.
While it's important to note that this was a small study that only involved male participants, the research still raises a good point: Simple leg workouts could be beneficial for anyone who has to spend most of their days seated in a chair. "Sitting all day creates a different kind of stress on the body," Leah Kalemba, a fitness instructor for Evolve Personal Training, Fighthouse MMA, and Moveir Dance Studio, tells Elite Daily over email. "Even with the best posture, your body will start to conform to your sedentary position, creating an imbalance in your musculoskeletal structure."
See, when you spend all day in a chair, your hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower back muscles tighten, and your glutes begin to soften and flatten, Kalemba explains. However, she says that incorporating dynamic leg exercises into your daily routine to activate these muscle groups will boost blood flow and ward off the dangers of sitting.
Before you do any formal exercise, though, Kalemba recommends starting with a stretch. "Tap into your inner yogi to target the first problem: muscle tightness," the trainer advises. "To relieve tight hip flexors, sit cross-legged on the floor, layering one leg over the other, then lean forward. You should feel a stretch in your lower back, too." Be sure to switch legs to address both sides, Kalemba says. Once you've loosened up with this stretch — and maybe an additional pigeon pose, too — you're ready to squat.
"If you’re short on time, squat it out," Kalemba tells Elite Daily. "This tried-and-true classic targets many muscles groups at once, including glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, lower back, and abs." Plus, she adds, it improves flexibility, activates circulation, and improves posture. Take that, desk chair.
And if you're craving more after your squatting sesh, another dynamic leg exercise you can try here is the lunge.
"Form is critical for the maximum benefit [of the lunge]," says Kalemba. "Keep your knees over your ankles to avoid hyperextension, and tighten your core and tuck your booty to focus on the right muscles. Prop your back leg on your desk chair for an added challenge." You read that right, friends — you can even do these workouts during downtime at the office.
Last but not least, Kalemba recommends a nice, booty-burning wall sit, which she says will really wake up your lower body, no matter how sluggish it's feeling. Here's how to do the perfect wall sit, according to the trainer: Press your back against the wall, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor to engage the leg muscles. The biggest challenge, Kalemba says, is holding a wall sit, so distract yourself with an article you’ve been meaning to read, or can even catch up on phone calls. You can also march your feet or do calf raises if you're looking for an additional challenge here.
Whether you're doing these exercises at home or taking the time to squeeze a couple of these lower-body moves into your bathroom breaks at work, your formerly chair-ridden legs will be sure to bask in the benefits either way. Sitting may be inevitable, but outsmarting those sedentary struggles has never felt so good.