When you think about it, most of our waking hours are spent sitting. It’s become very characteristic of the modern lifestyle, with all these computers, remote controls, and cars. Being a comfortable posture, sitting is addictive. And just like all other addictions, it can be dangerous to your health.
No, this is not an exaggeration. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, reducing the average time you spend sitting to less than three hours per day could increase your life expectancy by two years.
An in-depth analysis that used data from 18 different studies showed that people who sat for the least amount of time had half the risk of diabetes and heart disease compared to those who sat for the longest periods of time. (Learn how the Sherpas doubled their circulation.)
Another huge problem associated with prolonged sitting is improper circulation. If you sit for extended periods, especially without proper posture, you might compress the blood vessels responsible for supplying the muscles with blood, so your muscles may get fatigued.
Fortunately, there are a few strategies and exercises that can help you minimize the bad effects of sitting for extended periods.
1) Sit on a firm, comfortable chair
The place you sit has as much impact on your health as your sitting posture. At work, request for a chair that allows you to easily adjust the seat tilt and height, and the angle and height of the backrest. The seat should be large enough for both legs to fit comfortably side by side.
2) Adopt a good sitting posture
Getting a good chair is of no use if you do not adopt a good sitting posture. Sit with your back in a naturally straight position. Do not force your spine into an unnatural posture as this interferes with circulation. Your spine should not bend toward the front of your body, and, ideally, your lower back should be in good contact with the back of your chair. (Proper blood circulation may be the key to unlock your youth and vitality once again.)
3) Put your feet down
Most people don’t bother thinking about how their feet are placed while sitting. Sitting with your feet dangling or tucked underneath your body can impair circulation to your lower legs and feet. This can lead to swelling, pooling of blood, and even varicose veins. The best position for your feet is flat on the floor, with your ankles in line with your knees.
4) Adjust the seat
If you sit on a chair that is too low, it can cause your legs to bend at an unhealthy angle and interfere with blood circulation. A low-seated chair can also put unnecessary pressure on your buttocks and internal organs. If your chair is too low even after you adjust its height, either get a different chair or raise the seat with the help of firm cushions until your feet are positioned properly.
5) Take a break and stand up
For every hour that you sit, get up and walk around for a bit. This simple motion will encourage your heart to pump faster and harder and will help increase blood flow to your extremities. The muscles in your calves will also contract and expand more, and this will help pump up the blood from your legs.
6) Cushion your arms
Armrests play a significant role in helping you maintain a good sitting posture. Ideally, you should use padded armrests to help reduce the pressure on your arms. You can double the cushioning effect by placing the fleshy part of your arms against the armrest.
7) Don’t cross your legs
Try not to sit with your legs crossed for long periods, as this can limit the flow of blood to your legs and feet. However, crossing and uncrossing your legs while sitting can redistribute pressure and encourage the pumping of blood through the tissues in your legs.
You might have heard of interesting desks and workstations that offer the option of standing and sitting while working. Some workstations even have a treadmill underneath for walking—you don’t need to go that far. Following the above simple tips can make sitting a pleasure and will keep your blood flowing properly.