Do you have a desk-based job? Are you a professional sitter? The knowledge-based economy means that many adults sit at their desks and in meetings for hours at a time every day. Productivity, profit, and professionalism lead people to remain seated at all times. But we're not in an airplane, and there is no turbulence (hint: you can get up and move about the cabin). This physical inactivity is prematurely aging our mostly sedentary bodies when we sit at a desk all day. It is killing us.
Being sedentary for too long impacts your entire body—your brain feels sluggish, your joints hurt, your muscles stiffen, and your mood turns generally gloomy. I think we can all agree that it’s difficult to be a productive person when you feel like that.
What can you do to address it? Here's a simple exercise that you can easily incorporate into your busy workday: Active Sitting.*
Active sitting helps us engage our muscles, strengthen our bones, and improve our posture. Instead of outsourcing the role of our muscles by slumping in our seats, we should sit tall. Aim for five minutes of active sitting every hour.
To start: Begin by sitting in a chair that has a firm seat.
Shifting forward: Sit up straight in your chair. You can slide your bottom forward so you’re not leaning back in the chair, or place your bottom right at the back of the seat with a tall back. Place both feet flat on the floor in front of you. If your legs are shorter and you can’t touch the floor, you can place a large book or block on the floor to support your feet. Don’t roll onto your tailbone. Imagine you have a tail and you want the tail behind you so you can wag it. Often, people roll backwards so they’re resting on their tailbone instead of their sit bones—these are the bony part of your bum, the lower edge of your pelvis.
Shoulder position: Drop your shoulders away from your ears. It should feel like you're letting them slide down your back.
Head position: Pull your head and neck back so your ears are sitting over your shoulders, not pushed forward. Your head is now positioned over your centre of gravity, which is allowing you to strengthen your bones by loading them. Feel your muscles and bones at work.
Amanda Sterczyk is an international author, Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM), an Exercise is Medicine Canada (EIMC) Fitness Professional, and a Certified Essentrics® Instructor.