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Smart Ways to Survive If You Sit a Lot

By Sandy Schroeder

When we sit, a chair or couch supports all of our weight and the body sags as metabolism lags. Then hips, knees and ankles tighten as muscles weaken, and the shoulders and back bend forward.

Too much sitting can lead to weight gain, heart disease and a shortened life, according to Prevention researchers, but stretching, “fidgeting,” and varying sitting habits could help you survive as you fight back.


First, check with your doctor before you begin a new exercise program. Then when you begin a stretching routine hold each stretch for five seconds, working up to 30 seconds. Try these samples from Prevention.

Shoulder Opener – To open shoulders and chest, stand up straight and use both hands to hold a towel behind your back. Raise your arms behind you as high as you can comfortably, and then move your shoulders together and back as you stretch.

Breakout stretch – Stretch the chest, shoulders, mid-back, hips and ankles to ease tight joints and muscles.  Stand with legs at hip width and reach up high. Spread fingers as you stand on your tiptoes and reach for the sky. Feel the stretch throughout your body.

Backbend – Improve posture and strengthen the muscles supporting the spine. Stand about an inch from a wall with your back to the wall. Raise arms over head, bend elbows, face palms to the wall and slowly lean back supporting your weight with your hands. Walk your hands down the wall to feel a stretch. To be safe, start slowly, working gradually to a deeper backbend.


The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported a study of 13,000 women over 12 years to evaluate health impacts from sitting. Women were categorized as low, moderate or high fidget types. The most active, high-fidget sitters completely escaped health risks. They hopped up frequently, drummed their fingers and bounced their legs through daily seven-hour sessions. Following the lead of the active fidgeters, sitters should get up every 20 minutes or so, and develop their own fidgeting routines.

Vary Your Habits

Mix in as much movement as you can. Use a standing workstation as an alternate. Initiate standing and walking meetings, and stand when you are on the phone. If you can, break up your sitting sessions into shorter chunks to give your body a rest. Set reminders to move every 20 minutes when you are doing long sessions.

Reducing the effects of long sitting sessions is crucial to your health. If stretching, fidgeting and alternate habits work for you, keep them going, and continue to look for more ways to protect your health while you sit.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Austin, Tex.

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