Sitting down for longer periods of time, particularly if you are working at home, can cause serious health problems in the long term. More accurately, it slows blood circulation in your feet or legs, preventing nutrients and oxygen from reaching the lower body, according to Brooklyn-based personal trainer Lauren Schramm. “That’s why it’s recommended that you avoid sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time,” she said. “Unfortunately, that can be very difficult to do – especially when you have a few hour-long Zoom meetings per day.”
The good news is that Schramm has shared these simple exercises that will keep blood flowing around your legs while following lockdown orders amid the coronavirus pandemic:
“Sitting has the effect of ‘turning off’ your glutes – meaning if they’re not required for a long period of time, the glutes will stop functioning properly,” Schramm said. This effect describes gluteal amnesia, better known as the “dead butt syndrome.”
- Lie on your back with your hands on your sides, knees bent and feet on the floor. Make sure that your fingertips can reach your heels.
- Press the backs of your arms into the floor and lift your hips up on an exhale, digging your heels into the floor. Pull your belly button to your spine to keep your core active.
- Inhale to lower down.
- Repeat for 15 to 20 reps after a long sitting period.
“Leg swings,” Schramm said, “are a classic track warm-up, which is a form of dynamic stretching that increases the range of motion of a joint and the blood flow to your muscles.”
- This exercise is best done in a doorway at home. Start at the center of the door frame with one of your hands on the frame for stability.
- While keeping your core active and with both shoulders and hips squared forward, begin swinging your leg back and forth, creating momentum. Make sure you stand tall and do not allow leg motion to pull you out of alignment.
- Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times, then switch legs.
Schramm said that foam rolling places pressure on the tissue, bringing blood flow to the muscles.
- Start in a sitting position with your legs out in front and the roller underneath your calves.
- Lift up your body and start rolling back and forth over the belly, being sure to avoid the Achilles tendon and the backs of your knees. Tendons and ligaments should not be rolled over as they do not receive blood flow.
- Repeat using your hamstrings and then finish with a plank on your forearms to foam roll your quads.
Half Kneeling Hip Flexor And Quad Release
“The act of sitting causes our hip flexors (found at the front of the hip bones) to shorten and can lead to compression or soreness in the lower back,” Schramm said. “This passive stress is a good way to gradually lengthen them.”
- Set yourself up by kneeling with your hands on the floor in front of the couch or any object of similar height. Be sure that there are some cushions underneath your knees.
- Place the top of one of your feet on the couch behind you and bring the other foot in front of you, coming to a half kneeling position. This will cause you to feel a stretch in front of the hip and the thigh of the back leg.
- Stay in that position for 45 to 60 seconds per side before carefully releasing back unto all fours to come out of it.
Walking, Schramm said, is not only “one of the most ideal exercises to get your circulation moving again, but it’s also a great way to clear your head and get some fresh air.” Start by walking briskly for 20 to 30 minutes a day and make your walks more intense by adding hills, stairs or wearing weights.