We’ve been told that sitting is now the new smoking.
But like with many things that were told, it’s not really true.
It’s more about a lack of movement that is the new smoking.
And sitting can actually be a natural and healthy thing to do, especially if done on the floor.
However, sitting in a chair is not a natural thing to do. Especially for prolonged periods.
Why chair sitting is so damaging
Chair sitting is such an unnatural position for our body. It is one of the main reasons we have issues like poor breathing, poor posture, low energy and back pain.
A big reason for this is the ‘switching off’ of our biggest muscles like our butt (glutes) and abdominals.
Not only that, but being sedentary for prolonged periods (an hour or more) has been shown to decrease our mitochondrial function.
Mitochondria are our energy powerhouses that use the food (glucose) we eat and the air (oxygen) we breathe to turn into ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). Producing this ATP is essential not just to have energy and focus, it is vital for many functions in the human body.
But for many of us, sitting is required for work and is ingrained into Western society and our everyday habits.
So what’s the solution?
Sitting on the floor is natural and healthy because it is more active i.e. our body has to actually work a little bit to hold us there.
Early man would likely have spent similar amounts of time as we do ‘resting’, i.e. not on the move hunting and gathering, but they would do so on the ground in ‘active’ resting positions, like squatting and kneeling.
In these positions muscles are ‘switched on’ and as they are being used to stabilise the body.
This muscle activity then ensures increased blood flow along with all the other benefits this has on our internal functions.
How to practice active sitting
Research has shown that the deep squat is the most active rest position.
However, this may be difficult for many of us to get into and hold because our body has adapted to the chair.
But there are many other easier ways to start sitting on the floor such as;
- Deep kneel/half kneel
- Cross sit
- Bent sit
- Side bent sit
- Long sit
These positions help with mobility, pain and our overall health and energy.
Also, it’s not just about holding one of these positions, but many of the benefits come from transitioning and holding different active sitting positions. It only takes a second to change positions.
These positions are easy to practice even when we are working on the laptop or on our phone or reading or eating.
It doesn’t require ‘motivation’ or ‘making time’ to workout.
Often when we ‘workout’ we are substituting one stressor (chair sitting) with another stressor (intense exercise). This may lead to increased cortisol and inflammation. Both of these are natural and healthy for bodily functions but modern lifestyle and toxicity can cause these to be overreactive.
This isn’t shunning exercise. Exercise is good for us and will produce adaptations like improved muscle mass, IF done with the right awareness, intention, frequency, recovery etc.
However, exercise is still raising cortisol and inflammation in the body.
Chair sitting for hours and hours every day combined with 30 minutes of intense exercise is not a good combinationl.
What our body craves more than ever is to be and move in the way it’s naturally and evolutionarily designed to!
Your body will thank you in terms of better mobility and posture, less pain and better overall health and energy.