Tags: Obesity | sitting | dangers | sedentary | exercise

Going to the Gym Isn't Enough to Counter Sitting Long Hours

Going to the Gym Isn't Enough to Counter Sitting Long Hours

(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Thursday, 12 January 2017 01:27 PM

The health benefits of cardiovascular exercise and weight training are undeniable. But regular visits to the gym might not be enough to guard against future health risks.

According to a recent study from the American Heart Association (AHA), regular physical activity does not offset the twin harms of sitting for hours at your desk or surfing your couch.

Sedentary activity is typically defined as any waking activity that involves sitting or lying down. Watching television, working on the computer, or playing games on smart phones are key culprits in clocking big numbers of sedentary hours.

The AHA study revealed that younger adults are sedentary for around 6-8 hours a day, while adults aged 60 and older spend 8 or more hours at rest.

A sedentary lifestyle sharply increases the risk for colon cancer, heart attack, and stroke. Inactive people also lose lean muscle tissue, have decreased bone density, are more likely to gain weight, and are more likely to feel depressed.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says sedentary behavior is secondary only to smoking as a leading risk factor for mortality.

Researchers are unable to pinpoint exactly how long is “too long” when it comes to sitting, says AHA researcher Dr. Deborah Rohm Young, Ph.D., but their advice is to reduce the amount of time spent at rest, and to increase the amount of time spent being active. Exercising in small amounts each day is more beneficial than longer, less frequent sessions.

While we can choose to cut down on watching television, if your job involves long hours traveling or sitting behind a desk, getting enough exercise can be difficult. But, there are many easy exercises you can incorporate into your day to break up your idle routine.

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and former Navy SEAL Stew Smith says several stretching and low-impact exercises can easily be performed at your desk.

Stretching Exercises

Stretching is key to any physical activity regime. Remember that slow and steady is key. Stretching is not a competition for how far you can go. Never force a stretch to go further by bouncing, and always stop at the first sign of a sharp pain.

  • Neck stretches: Gently tilt your head toward your shoulder, and hold the position for 10 seconds each side. Do this slowly, as the neck is very easy to injure.
  • Arm/shoulders: Pull your arm across your chest, and hook your other arm above the elbow. This will stretch your upper back and the backs of your shoulders.
  • Back/legs: This can be done from a standing or sitting position. Relax your knees, and lean forward from your waist and bring your chest toward your thighs. Slowly try to straighten your legs. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings, the tendons behind your knees.
  • Thigh stretch: Sit on the left edge of your chair. Grab your left ankle or shin and pull it upward toward your buttocks. If you do this correctly, you should feel a stretch in your thigh, and not at the top of your knee. Switch sides. For a deeper stretch, this may be done from a standing position. Hold the edge of your desk or a wall to help you balance on each foot.
  • Calf stretch: Stand and face a wall, and place your palms flat on the wall. Lean forward and concentrate on keeping your heels on the floor. This will stretch your calves. Bend your knees slightly to gently stretch your Achilles tendons behind your ankles.

Low-Impact Exercises

Although health experts recommend standing and walking around every 30 minutes or so, we sometimes find ourselves stuck for long periods in a restricted space. These low-impact exercises may be done at your office desk and in your living room.

Modified squats: Stand in front of your chair and repeat sitting down and standing up 10 times. Do this up to three times a day.

Shoulder shrugs: Pull your shoulders as high as you can, then roll them forward 10 times, and backward 10 times. This can be done many times throughout the day.

Arm curls: While sitting, grab a light dumbbell or a full water bottle and do bicep curls. Keeping your palm up and your elbow touching your torso, slowly curl the weight toward your shoulder, then slowly lower and straighten your arm.

Bench dips: Stand with your back to a sturdy table and place your palms flat on the table behind you, fingertips facing forward. Bend your elbows to slightly lower yourself, about six inches. Raise yourself by straightening your arms. Repeat this three times a day for 10 repetitions. You can move your feet forward to increase the angle of your body and the difficulty, but if you do, maintain a tight core (stomach muscles) to keep the strain off of your lower back.

Assisted pushups: Face a sturdy table and place your palms flat, fingertips facing forward. Walk your feet back until you are at a slight angle, and tighten your stomach muscles to keep your back from forming a bow. Bend your elbows to slightly lower yourself, then raise yourself by straightening your arms. Repeat this three times a day for ten repetitions.

Go at your own pace, and always listen to your body. Dull muscle soreness is common when deconditioned individuals begin any exercise program, but a sharp pain could indicate a serious problem and is not the type of pain one should push through.

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If you spend long hours sitting, getting to the gym everyday won't necessarily undo the harms to your health from being sedentary. Instead, experts say, it's a good idea to keep moving, with these key exercises and stretches.
sitting, dangers, sedentary, exercise
Thursday, 12 January 2017 01:27 PM
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