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The Health Hazards of Sitting

We know that sitting too much is bad, and most of us intuitively feel a little guilty after a long TV binge.

But what exactly goes wrong in our bodies when we park ourselves for nearly eight hours per day—the average for a U.S. adult? Many things, say four experts, who detailed a chain of problems from head to toe.

So what can we do?The experts recommend . . .

SITTING ON SOMETHING WOBBLY SUCH AS AN EXERCISE BALL OR EVEN A BACKLESS STOOL TO FORCE YOUR CORE MUSCLES TO WORK. Sit up straight and keep your feet flat on the floor in front of you so they support about a quarter of your weight.

STRETCHING THE HIP FLEXORS FOR THREE MINUTES PER SIDE ONCE A DAY.

WALKING DURING COMMERCIALS WHEN YOU’RE WATCHING TV. Even a snail-like pace of 1 mph would burn twice the calories of sitting, and more vigorous exercise would be even better.

ALTERNATING BETWEEN SITTING AND STANDING AT YOUR WORK STATION. If you can’t do that, stand up every half hour or so and walk.

TRYING YOGA POSES. The cow pose and the cat will help improve extension and flexion in your back.

THE RIGHT WAY TO SIT. If you have to sit often, try to do it correctly. As Mom always said, “Sit up straight.”

• Not leaning forward

• Shoulders relaxed

• Arms close to sides

• Elbows bent 90°

• Lower back may be supported

• Feet flat on floor

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