October’s Health Blog 2021

Get out of that chair, now!

We weren’t designed to sit in chairs. As upright, bipedal locomotors, our spines are a flexible chain of boney vertebrae that give us mobility, shock absorption and protection of our spinal cord, and when we’re not moving, we reside best by sitting on the ground with legs crossed or squatting. Our muscles were meant to move; to hunt and gather, to explore and to play. Instead, we sit for hours on chairs, seats or sofas hunting on our computers, driving our horses or playing video games, placing our spines in a “C” curve (C is for compression) instead of moving around with our natural “S” curves (S is for springy).

Since I doubt any of you are going to switch to sitting or squatting on the floor, the next best thing is to get up from sitting as often as you can, if only for a minute or two. Taking a break every 30 to 60 minutes and stretching and moving will help relax your muscles, improve blood flow, improve your thinking, and prevent adaptive shortening, which leads to tight, stiff muscles with restricted range of motion.

The best exercises you can do, easily and quickly, are 1) squats – bending your knees and raising your arms over your head, 5 to 10 times, 2) back extensions – raising your arms above your head, lean slightly backward, and stretch our your back and shoulders for about 30 seconds, 3) the Lunge – placing one leg behind you as far as you can go, bend the front knee to 90 degrees and stretch the front of the back leg (your hip flexors) for 30 seconds each side. There are many more stretches you can do, but these three are a start.

Other alternatives include using a variable standing desk, where you can stand or sit throughout the day. Additionally, set up walk and talk meetings instead of sitting, stand during conference calls or get up from the desk when you’re talking on the phone. Take advantage of every opportunity to get off your butt and move. This will most certainly reduce your risk of creating stiff and sore muscles and joints, help increase your energy levels, and improve your mental cognition (more blood to the brain). For more ideas on how to move, check out the Health & Fitness section on my website: www.bengriffesdc.com. Be well. Dr. Ben

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