Most of you know that we, as a nation, spend far too much of our precious time sitting on our asses. You’re sitting in front of your computer, posting your umpteenth picture of your animal doing something so ‘awesome’ that you can’t wait another minute to get it out to your 60,231 Facebook friends. Or you’re kickin’ it (yes, I wrote kickin’ it and I’m not sure it was in an ironical way) old school, doing your best impersonation of a couch potato.
Our bodies were built to move (and for speed) and this sedentary lifestyle is slowly killing us. Now that may have been a bit dramatical but sometimes that’s what’s required for a message to be heard and action to be taken.
It is estimated that, given the time that we are laying down; sleeping, eating, as well as the examples outlined above, we spend about a third of our time on your asses, and or laying prostrate.
This sedentary lifestyle does not come without side effects. It can lead to obesity, it’s pure punishment on the spine, it affects blood flow to our limbs, tightens our calves, glutes, hamstrings and hip muscles, which in turn can affect our lower backs, among other body parts.
Don’t get me started on the rounded shoulders, forward head, and hemorrhoid epidemic that’s sweeping the nation.
Look at the young people around you, and tell me that you don’t see their upper backs hunched, and their heads down, as if they’re looking for spare change on the ground. It’s as if man (and woman) is walking in reverse on the evolutionary scale. Will future generations be walking on their hands? At least they’d be closer to the loose change on the ground.
I’m not pointing fingers because I, too, even as a Pilates instructor, sit on my ass more than I’d like to. And although it’s a tight Pilates ass, with a lifted THUT, I have to work hard to remind myself to stand up, and walk around. Sometimes I’ll eat and work standing up. Simple, not easy, and not always attractive.
I’ve found a few easy ways to offset some of the negative effects of inactivity that everyone can do. Of course stepping away from, or putting down, the friggin’ electronic devices for half a New York minute might also help, but I’m only one person. There’s only so much I can do.
The first step is to arm yourself with some tools to make these behavioral changes possible and easy. I want you to walk away feeling successful. See what I did there? Walking. Moving.
Invest two to three dollars (or less) in a Theraband, also known as an exercise band, or exercise tubing. You can find these online or in a local sporting goods store. Different colors correspond to various levels of resistance.
The bands are portable and can be carried in a purse (for women or men) or kept in a desk drawer, glove compartment or locker. What the hell, I don’t know where you work. The point is, you can take it anywhere.
Standing, grab the band at either end and lift your arms overhead. Keeping light tension on the band, side bend over to your right, keeping the space between your arms the same throughout, and your head directly in the middle of your arms. Use your core to stabilize, and try not to pop your ribcage out. Hold for 30 seconds, and switch sides.
Stretching the hip flexors is very important because these muscles get short and tight when we sit for long periods of time and will eventually start to ache if you don’t lengthen them.
Stand with your right leg in front of you, left leg extended behind you. Start to bend your right knee, as you press your hips forward. Gently squeeze your left glute (ass cheek) and tuck your pelvis underneath you, pushing your left hip forward and up, until you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip. Scoop your navel back to your spine. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
If you must sit, set a timer to remind you to get up every 30-60 minutes and stretch. Take a walk around the room. The bands will hopefully make it more interesting and fun. Of course if you can get yourself into a Pilates class, that would make my heart soar like eagle.
I wrote this entire piece while hiking up a mountain.