By now, you've likely heard about many of the potential negative side effects of too much sitting—including numerous problems related to the lower back. Here are 4 helpful ideas to help you avoid this new health epidemic that is commonly referred to as sitting disease.
1. Stand up every 20 to 30 minutes
Standing up engages both your lower back and leg muscles, which in turn spurs nourishing blood flow throughout your body. So this simple act can reduce your lower back pain and muscle stiffness, while increasing your energy throughout the day.
There are a number of effective ways to remind yourself to stand periodically. For example, you can set an alarm on your computer or mobile phone that rings every 20 minutes, or try breaking up your work into 20-minute segments.
2. Incorporate stretching into your daily routine
Spending prolonged periods of time in the seated position tends to shorten your hamstring muscles, as well as the muscles and soft tissues around your hips. Keeping your hands on your computer mouse and keyboard can also stiffen up your shoulder joints.
Thankfully, even a few stretches throughout the day can go a long way towards loosening up your muscles and soft tissues.
3. Avoid after-hours electronics use
Like many people, you may be required to use a computer at work for up to 8 hours per day. So when you get home, don't head straight for your television or laptop. This unhealthy habit typically leads to more sitting, which is the last thing you need after a long day at work.
Instead, be proactive and plan after-work activities that get you up and moving. For example, you can join a sports league, explore bird watching, or simply take your dog for a walk.
4. Go for a walk
Don't limit exercise to the gym; instead, try to walk as much as possible throughout the day. Walking provides many benefits, including spurring the release of your body's natural pain-killers—known as endorphins. Here are a few pointers for incorporating walking into your busy schedule:
- Schedule one meeting every day that you conduct while walking.
- Whenever possible, take the stairs.
- Consider using a device that tracks your steps throughout the day—this can be an inexpensive pedometer that you keep in your pocket (about $5), or a more expensive wearable device.
Strive towards a healthier lifestyle by committing to stand up and move a little more every day. Even small changes add up over time and can make a big difference. But the key is to get started today!