Weekly Wellness: Chair exercises help with workout at work

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COLUMBIA - Everyone has seen the news reports and the articles announcing the fact that "sitting is killing you." It might seem a bit on the silly side, but the unfortunate truth is that it may be true. A study that's running in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sedentary behavior such as sitting (while we work, while we drive, while we watch TV, while we are at school and on and on and on) increases our chances of getting a disease or a condition that will kill us prematurely.

Researchers from Toronto analyzed 47 studies of sedentary behavior and all of those studies showed that sedentary behavior can lead to death from cardiovascular issues, cancer as well as cause chronic conditions (i.e. Type 2 diabetes). The World Health Organization states that physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth-leading risk factor for death for people all around the world.

How do you know if you're sitting too much? What is considered "too much" when looking at these studies? Well, for the purposes of these studies, sitting for eight to ten hours is the definition of prolonged sitting.

Like many issues that need addressing, the first thing to do is assess and be aware. Just how much are you sitting? Do you work in a cubicle? Do you sit for most of your workday? Well, that could equate to at least seven hours, right? Then factor in drive time to and from work. Then factor in sitting at meals. Then factor in watching your favorite television show(s). Are we close to ten hours yet? (Yeah, I thought we might be.)

So what do we do??!?!

If you're at work, try to stand up and move around for 1 - 3 minutes for every 30 minutes seated. Need to use the bathroom? Use one on a different floor (and take the stairs instead of the elevator to get there). Walk on your lunch break (even if that means walking up and down the stairwell if walking outside isn't an option due to weather).

If you're at home, instead of DVRing your shows and fast-forwarding through the commercials, stand up and move around during the commercial breaks. Or stand for part of your shows.

I've also created a quick 3 minute chair workout that you can do while you're at your desk. Your co-workers might wonder what you're up to but invite them to participate with you.

Seated twist: Sit in your chair with your arms at your sides and your feet flat on the floor. Twisting at your waist turn to the left and hold for 10 seconds then twist to the right and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 2 - 3 times.

Seated shoulder rolls
: Sit in your chair with your arms at your sides and feet flat on the floor. Slowly roll your shoulders back 10 times. Then reverse and roll your shoulders forward 10 times. Repeat 2 - 3 times.

Sitting proud: Sit in your chair with your arms at your sides and your feet flat on the floor. Puff out your chest (like a super hero). Keep your chin level with the floor (don't look up). Hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 2 - 3 times.

Seated SuperHero: Get into the position of Sitting Proud and place your hands on your hips. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 2 - 3 times.

Seated Good Morning: Sit in your chair with your arms at your sides and your feet flat on the floor. Clasp your hands together and raise your arms above your head with your palms facing up. Reach your palms tall, as if you're stretching tall out of your ribcage. Hold for 10 seconds. Keep your hands clasped and bend to the right side for 10 seconds. Then bend to the left side for 10 seconds. Relax, release. Repeat 2 - 3 times.

Being stuck at your desk should be no reason that you can't keep yourself healthy. Try incorporating these easy seated moves into your daily routine - maybe challenge yourself to do a set mid-morning and another set mid-afternoon. See how you feel.

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