Recently we reported a terrifying study that sitting for too long is actually killing you, and that the more active you are, the less likely you are to experience complications from prolonged sitting. Studies show that the average person sits for 7.7 hours a day and sometimes up to 15 hours every day! This sedentary lifestyle comes with a number of health issues built in. People who sit for prolonged periods every day have the same risk of heart disease as people who smoke cigarettes.
Too much sitting also increases the risk of metabolic disorders, like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, as well as non-metabolic diseases like cancer and depression.
The easiest remedy to all of these issues is to simply stand up. Not that hard, right? Well, it can be if you’re stuck sitting at a desk all day and simply can’t stand. Fortunately there are simple yet rigorous exercises that you can do no matter what fitness level you find yourself at. Here are 7 simply chair exercises.
1. Seated leg extensions: Your legs contain the largest muscle groups in the body, so doing leg exercises gets you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of calorie expenditure. Burning more calories than you take in in a day is the only way to lose weight. Seated leg extensions work your thighs, a very large muscle, and also help strengthen your hips and knees.
- To do a seated leg extension, sit at the edge of your chair with your arm at your side. You can hold onto the seat of the chair if you need to.
- From here, simply extend one of your legs at a time so your leg is parallel to the ground. Your toes should point to the sky, allowing your foot to form a 90 degree angle with your leg.
- Hold this to the count of 3 and stop. Repeat this 10 times with each leg. This can be done any time throughout the day.
2. Double-knee-lift: Here all your belly muscles work effectively and gently at the same time. Your actions:
- Keep your legs together.
- Hold the sides of the chair with both hands.
- While keeping your back straight, lift your knees and pull them to your chest. Your abdominal muscles should be tensed.
- Put your feet down, but don’t touch the floor.
- Repeat 10-20 times.
3. Leg raises: Leg raises get your core involved while exercising other muscles like your quads. There is also a beginner variation if you need something a little easier.
- Sit at the edge of the chair, and lean back with your palms placed behind you
- Bend your knees 90°,
- Raise one or both legs, making them parallel to the floor.
- Repeat 20 times, and alternate legs if you are lifting only one.
4. Seated elbow curls: This exercise might seem a little wimpy but once you’re done, your arms, chest, shoulders and back will all be burning!
- Raise your arms at your side and bend your elbows. Your arms should form two 90 degree angles on either side of your body with your elbows in line with your shoulders. (Your torso should look like a square W)
- Bring your elbows in front of you so they touch, then open them back up so they’re in that beginning position again. Keep your posture tall for this!
- When opening your arms back up again, try to make your shoulder blades touch. Pretend that you’re crushing a pencil between your shoulder blades. You can take a moment to hold it in this position for extra tension.
- Do this at a moderate speed for 60 seconds every hour.
5. Knee pull-ins: This exercise works your core and lower abs to fight lower tummy flab.
- Sit tall on the edge of your chair.
- Place your feet firmly on the ground in front of you at hip’s width apart.
- Keep your back straight with you belly button pulling in towards the spine and lift your right knee towards your chest.
- Bring your arms towards your shin to get a bigger stretch in your lower abs.
- Do 20-30 reps, alternating your knees.
6. Reclining curl: This exercise could be done on public transit or in a car if you were bold enough.
- Sit on the front of the chair
- Lean back holding this position with your head just hovering over the back of the chair
- Put your arms out in front
7. Knee-to-chest lift: Strengthens abdominal muscles, improves digestion, and helps to burn fat. Your actions:
- Sit down on a chair. Keep your back straight without touching the back of the chair.
- Keep your feet on the floor hip-width apart.
- Keep your back straight. Lift your right knee, and pull it to your chest. Keep your belly sucked in.
- Put your hands on your shin to better stretch your lower abdominal muscles.
- Repeat 20-30 times by alternating your knees.