Why Your Daily WOD Can't Compete with Prolonged Sitting

April 15, 2015 4 Comments

Whether you're an entrepreneur or a 9-5er, most of us spend the majority of our day sitting on our butts. In fact, the average American sits more than 8 hours per day taking in screen time (i.e computers, television, etc).

While it's easy to justify spending one third of your day sitting, you also need to take into consideration the 6-8 hours of daily sleep you accumulate. The truth is, you've now spend nearly two thirds of your day in a sedentary state.

All things considered, it's no wonder that a quick morning HIIT session or WOD is just not enough to actually keep you healthy.

Let's break a few things down so you can truly appreciate what I'm saying here. 

Even if you exercise regularly, prolonged sitting increases your risk of death. According to TIME magazine, people who sit more than 11 hours each day are 40% more at risk to die in the next 3 years.

That may sound a ludicrous, until you look at the science behind it. Prolonged sitting disrupts metabolic function which has been known to increase triglyceride levels, decrease HDL cholesterol (the good kind of cholesterol!) and decrease insulin sensitivity regardless of whether or not you workout. Simply put, our bodies were not designed to sit for long periods of time. 

Here's what happens physiologically when we remain in a flexed (ie. seated) position for a long time.

First your muscle, connective and nerve tissue begin the process of adaptive shortening. Adaptive shortening refers to "the muscle changing its functional resting length to adapt to the length at which the muscle is habitually used or positioned."**

As adaptive shortening wreaks its havoc, the muscle in the front of the hip region shortens and tightens while our glutenous muscles begin to weaken.

Another example is when you sit in a hunched position. In this scenario the muscles in the upper trap area become short and tight. The muscle opposite to it, our neck flexors, become weak. Hunching over day after day not only leads to a vulture-like position, but is also to blame for the persistent headaches, back aches, jaw pain and most likely why you become easily fatigued when you're at work.

So, what should we be doing to fix this? More importantly, what do we NEED to be doing?

My number one, must-do tip for you would be to get yourself moving every single hour.

Now before you protest and start to share excuses why this is simply not possible, hear me out.

Four minutes of movement is all you need to invest in each hour. You can make this coincide with your next coffee refill or bathroom break. 

Here are a few movement suggestions:

Psoas muscleIf you work from home and have the luxury of lying on the floor without people thinking you're nuts, use a lacrosse ball or foam roller to release your psoas (pronounced so-as) muscle.

Your psoas are located alongside your hips and are one of the first muscle groups to start adaptive shortening with prolonged sitting. Commit 2 minutes of rolling out along these muscle lines (2 minutes per side!) and you will notice a major difference. Just be sure to do this every hour.

If you work in an office environment and this is not an option, do 2 minutes of air squats and 2 minutes of brisk walking.

Are you noticing a theme here? All of these movements are geared at loosening up your hip and pelvic region. 

Four minutes every hour is all it takes to reduce your chance of sitting-related death (dramatic, I know!) and improve your mobility. 

Are you feeling sore or tight right now? What are you going to do about it? Share in the comments below!


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**reference from http://www.gustrength.com/muscles:adaptive-shortening

4 Responses

Team WOD Nation
Team WOD Nation

May 11, 2015

Shannon – a standing desk is a great option for those who work behind a computer on the regular. Good on you!

Shannon Morrison
Shannon Morrison

April 17, 2015

i have moved to a standing desk and I love it! I rarely sit any more and find I’m always moving now, whether just walking in the spot, dancing to the music on the radio or just stretching. I’m finding working on a computer much more tolerable.


April 17, 2015

Hey Ginny – check out Kelly Starrett’s (king of mobility and face behind Mobility WOD) video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4nWPeyDfNM&noredirect=1

This should be a great instructional tool for you!


April 16, 2015

Do you have instructions anywhere on the proper way to roll out your psoas muscles? Thanks!

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