Are you sitting down right now? We have some bracing news: Our modern sedentary lifestyle is an unhealthy one. Ok, so most of us understand this to some extent.
But the statistics are truly startling. According to the World Health Organization(WHO), about 3.2 million deaths worldwide can be ascribed to inadequate amounts of physical activity. This has been attributed in part to too little physical activity both in our leisure time as well as being too sedentary at work and at home. The amount of time we spend sitting during long commutes to and from work are other contributing factors.
Think about it. Many aspects of our modern lives have been designed to be done while sitting down: watching TV and movies, working on the computer, sitting in cars, buses, trains and aeroplanes; the list goes on.
We Sit … A Lot
We spend almost 10 hours a day sitting, on average. We sit on our way to work, we sit at our desks, some of us don’t even get up and up for lunch because we have a packed lunch all ready to go at the desk. Then we sit for the rest of the afternoon before sitting again on the commute home, where upon arriving, we will be sitting for dinner and then more likely than not, sitting on the couch for the rest of the evening before hitting the sack!
All the sitting that we do leads to inevitable weight gain, especially around the belly area. It also ups our risk factors for diabetes, heart problems and (unsurprisingly) loss of bone and muscle density. Fortunately for us, there is a simple solution. If we were to consistently up our physical activity throughout the day, we can soon melt the belly fat away. One study found that obese women actually sat for about 2.5 more hours each day compared to other women. These women could burn another 300 calories per day if they were just a little more active throughout the day.
Be More Active During Your Day
Getting up every hour or so to stretch and walk is an excellent start. But there are also some exercises you can incorporate into your day, and these can be done right at your desk. But first, let’s address how you sit.
Poor sitting posture can cause many physical issues. We have the tendency to slouch and crane our necks. This can lead to headaches, fatigue, body aches, and even worse, disc compression, pain in the sciatic nerve and arthritis. To improve your posture, make sure that the height of your chair is adjusted such that your feet can rest fully on the ground and your knees and hips are flush at 90 deg. Your lower back should be resting against the chair and the top of your screen should be above eye level.
Now that you are sitting well, let’s check out some desk stretches and workouts that can ease on your journey to burning off belly fat.
Neck, Arm and Shoulder Stretch
Sit with your spine straight. Tip your left ear down to your left shoulder. Stay in position for a few seconds and then repeat with your right. Next, with your fingers interlaced, reach up to the ceiling as far up as you can go, with palms facing upwards.
Bob Your Head
Turn your head to the right so that you are practically looking over your shoulder. Hold in place for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side. Then lower your chin down towards your chest and roll your head towards the left and right.
Open Up Your Chest
Raise your shoulders up to your ears, like a shrug. Lower after a few seconds. Do this several times. Then with your hands behind your back, palms pressed together, sit up straight and hold for up to 10 seconds.
Sitting straight, raise your left arm up to the sky and stretch out your right leg. Raise it up as you bring down your left arm and across to touch your right foot. Do 8 reps on either side.
In a seated position, lift your left leg up and with your arms, pull your leg as close to your chest as possible. Hold for up to 10 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
Stretch and Bend
Next up, extend your left arm over your head and reach as far to the right as you can, gently bending at the waist. Repeat with other arm.
Glute Stretch and Squeeze
Rest your left ankle on your right knee and gently press down on the left knee several times. Repeat on the right. Add on this isometric exercise for added effect; squeeze your glutes firmly as possible and hold for at least 10 seconds, working up to 30 seconds.