Sitting more? Just snack!

Introduction

If you are like me, you’ve recently experienced a spike in the volume in the daily amount of sitting you do. While sitting is necessary, it comes with a range of risks.  This 3 part series is designed to give you the clinical and practical information you need to move well and perform well when sitting is a part of your life. The first part of this series will discuss the science of sitting and offer movement snacks as a solution to break the sitting cycle.  The second installment will focus on posture and alignment and will include a TRX Suspension Trainer anti-sitting routine. We will conclude this series discussing the secrets of decompression, not only for our tissues, but for our nervous system as well. Including some keys ways to enhance your health in small spaces.

Part 1- Snacks?

My favorite word in the English language is ‘snacks’ and, I am here to recommend snacking as a great way to avoid the negative effects of sitting. That is movement snacks of course!  Before I start to get hungry, let’s discuss the science behind sitting and its’ toll on our system.  

Is Sitting the new Smoking? 

For many of us, pre-quarantine, our typical days consisted of 10,000 steps, or 5 miles, with plenty of exercise demonstrations sprinkled in.  Recently, whether writing personalized movement programs on a spreadsheet or sitting behind the screen performing TeleHealth session, we have experienced a spike in the amount of sitting we do.  Unfortunately, this increase in sitting comes with risk (1). 

It is easy to see, and feel, that sitting steals valuable mobility from our joints and tissues.  Prolonged sitting can also be detrimental to the our skeletal system inhibiting our ability to obtain proper skeletal alignment.  Just think about the minute or two it takes to stand correctly after a long car ride. In particular, sitting can overload certain parts of our spine.  Spoiler alert… there will more about that in this installment of this series.

The negative effects of sitting go beyond our musculoskeletal system.  Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns (2).  Too much sitting overall, in addition to prolonged periods of sitting, increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.  Other direct effects include obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess body fat around the waist.

Is sitting the new smoking? Not quite.  While sitting has negative health benefits, smoking is still far worse. Researchers report smoking increases the risk of death 180 percent, while sitting  points to a decrease in our longevity by 9 to 10 percent. 

The research suggests that the traditional approach to exercise, 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes each session, is not enough to counterbalance the negative effects of sitting (3).  In other words, our bodies need more movement nourishment.

Movement Snacks

We certainly recognize the value of nutrient timing, especially more frequent and smaller meals. 

Why not adopt a similar strategy for our movement regimen in the form of movement snacks?

Whether, standing and reaching your arms to the ceiling, performing 10 squats every hour, or doing 4-20 minute movement sessions, move more frequently.  Movement snacks do not have to be long. Spending 3-5 minutes can go a long way. And, just like with our nutrition, we want to ‘eat a rainbow’ of movements.  This will help keep our minds active and bodies balanced. Today, we’ve used an “old but good” tool to give you a nourishing flow. A physioball can help make sitting more tolerable and it is a great tool for mobility and stability as shown in this physioball flow sequence. 

While performing these movements, make sure to have fun, and remember you do not have to be at your tissues end range to receive the benefit of the movement.  In other words, do not feel the need to overstretch.  

This sequence begins with a physioball bridge which is a great way to awaken the posterior chain of our bodies and moves into segmental spine mobility.  Think Cat/Cow but on a physioball.  

Utilize your arms to lengthen your full body by reaching in different directions.  Then transition to one side to lengthen the lateral line of the body in our long torso stretch.  This movement highlights the benefits of what the physioball brings to the table! Use the shape of the physioball and create a distraction in your joints by “relaxing over the ball.” 

This sequence finishes with “Stirring the Pot.”  This movement creates 3-D spine stability, and incorporates the important scapula!  Think “long and strong” as you move your arms over a stable torso.  

When performed together, these 3 movements work in synergy to lengthen on spine, mobilize our hips/T-spine and reset our posture.  Use the breathe to drive mobility and stability where you need it.

In summary, frequent movement will nourish our whole body, not just our musculoskeletal systems.  Corrective exercise sandwiches can feed our skeletal alignment. Mobility shots can be helpful for our joints.  And, a Met Con medley can be great for our cardiovascular system. Supplement your mood, and boost your energy with smaller yet more frequent movement snacks. 

Joins us for the next installment of this series as we build on the concept of movement snacks and discuss posture, ergonomics and introduce an “Anti-Sitting Sandwich” on the TRX Suspension trainer.  

  1. Baddeley, B. Sornalingam, S., Cooper, M. Sitting is the new smoking: where do we stand? Gen Pract. 2016 May; 66(646): 258.  doi: 10.3399/bjgp16X685009
  1. Vallance, J., Gardiner, P., Lynch, B., D’Silva, A., Boyle, T., Taylor, L., Johnson, K., Buman, M., Owen, N. Evaluating the Evidence on Sitting, Smoking, and Health: Is Sitting Really the New Smoking? American Journal of Public Health, 2018; 108 (11): 1478 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304649
  1. Patel, A., Bernstein, L., Deka, A., Spencer-Feigelson, H., Campbell, P., Gapstur, S., Colditz, G., and Thun, M., Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 172, Issue 4, 15 August 2010, Pages 419–429, https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwq155
  • April 18, 2020