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5 Simple Chair Exercises For Everyday Fitness

Published April 09, 2019 (Revised: August 10, 2019)
<article> <section> <p align="justify">Did you know scientists and health professionals are calling too much sitting the “new smoking?” If that sounds like a stretch, think about it this way. In past generations, smoking—like sitting today—was just something a lot of people did. It wasn’t until much later, when people started getting sick, that everyone realized how dangerous it was for their health.</p> <p align="justify">And we’re now starting to realize how bad too much sitting is for our bodies.</p> <p align="justify">Linked to myriad health issues such as obesity, poor posture, and tight muscles, too much sitting can even increase your risk of chronic disease. This is concerning, especially if you sit a lot for work. How are you supposed to stay healthy and fight off disease if you pay your bills by sitting at a desk for eight hours a day?</p> <p align="justify">In this article we’ll look at the negative effects of too much sitting. Then we’ll cover how to sit properly—so your core is activated—and some simple yet effective chair exercises you can do at home or in the office.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Why Is Sitting Bad For You?</header> <p align="justify">Here are three reasons why too much sitting is bad for you.</p> <ol> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Burns Fewer Calories</div></li></b> <p align="justify">Sitting uses less energy than standing or moving. When you spend most of the day seated, you burn fewer calories. Because weight loss and weight gain are the result of calories in versus calories out, it’s much easier to gain body-fat when you burn fewer calories throughout the day. </p> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Linked To Disease</div></li></b> <p align="justify">Excessive sitting can inhibit weight loss and lead to obesity over time. This increases your risk for diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and metabolic syndrome <sup>1</sup>.</p> <p align="justify">Other health problems like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and elevated cholesterol levels are also linked to too much time in a chair.</p> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Poor Posture and Back Pain</div></li></b> <p align="justify">Too much sitting isn’t good for your spine and back health, especially if you slouch over. Bad posture can lead to chronic <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>lower back</b></a> and <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>shoulder</b></a> pain and muscle tightness <sup>2</sup>. </p> <p align="justify">Read this article on <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>strengthening your shoulders</b></a> to learn more about how slouching over—with your hands “in the box”—is terrible for your health and back. (See the article for more about the “box”).</P> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Body-Fat Accumulates In The Waist and Thighs</div></li></b> <p align="justify">Prolonged sitting encourages body-fat to store itself around our bellies and thighs. Besides the obvious aesthetic implications, body-fat stored in your belly is actually problematic for your health.</p> <p align="justify">Visceral fat that accumulates around your belly comes in contact with some of the most important organs. <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>Belly fat</b></a> has been especially linked to diseases like heart disease, cancer, and dementia <sup>3</sup>. </p> <p align="justify">And while thigh fat doesn’t have the same health links, most of us would still prefer to have <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>lean and toned thighs</b></a>.</p> </ol> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Happens To Your Body When You Sit All Day?</header> <p align="justify">Perhaps the most powerful way to answer this is to consider the exact opposite question:</p> <p align="justify"><i>What happens to your body when you exercise frequently? What benefits are available to you when you workout?</i></p> <p align="justify">Exercise increases blood flow to muscles, elevates your mood, boosts energy, and improves the health of vital organs like your brain and skin <sup>3</sup>. Exercise also helps with weight loss and reduces the risk of the most common diseases that kill Americans—like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease <sup>4</sup>.</p> <p align="justify">By sitting all day, you miss out on all the amazing benefits of exercise. Your energy levels are low, your muscles get stiff and tight, and you increase the risk that you’ll become obese or suffer from awful diseases.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Sitting Too Much At Work—What Should You Do?</header> <p align="justify">Sitting may be unhealthy, but the fact remains that many people make a living in a seated position. If you have a desk job, you might sit for six to eight hours on any given day.</p> <p align="justify">You might be wondering, “How do I stay healthy if I have to sit at work?”</p> <p align="justify">Here are two things you should do.</p> <ol> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Activate Your Core</div></li></b> <p align="justify">Maintain good posture when you’re working from a chair by using your core muscles. Sit up with your shoulders pulled back and your ab muscles activated. Avoid slouching or leaning over the keyboard.</p> <p align="justify">An <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>active core</b></a> takes pressure off the lower back, hips, and <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>shoulder muscles</b></a>. This will prevent your muscles from becoming stiff and weak.</p> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Take Frequent Breaks</div></li></b> <p align="justify">Get up every 30 to 45 minutes. Even a short walk around the office or a quick stretch will increase circulation, loosen up your muscles, and give your body a break from the stress of sitting too much.</p> <p align="justify">And if you’re really serious about your health, you might consider doing a few simple exercises right from your chair.</p> </ol> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Simple Chair Exercises You Can Do Right Now</header> <p align="justify">Try one or more of these five thigh-slimming and core strengthening chair exercises during your next <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>at-home workout</b></a>.</p> <header>Thigh-Slimming Chair Exercises</header> <div style="text-align:center;"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <ol> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Sit To Stands</div></li></b> <p align="justify">Sit to stands are a variation of a squat with modifications for any fitness level. To do them, set your feet up slightly wider than shoulder width apart (here’s Coach Tyler’s pointers for <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>perfect squat technique</b></a>). Keep your bodyweight in your heels and kick your butt back. The chair behind you serves as a target for you to touch your butt on. </p> <p align="justify">You can relax on the chair or gently touch it, but keep your core muscles activated and the muscles in your arms and upper body engaged, too!</p> <p align="justify">Count one repetition each time you stand back up from the chair.</p> <p align="justify"><b>Chair Exercise Challenge</b>: Do 10 sit to stands every 30 minutes during work (or during <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>each TV commercial</b></a> before your favorite show gets back). Over time add reps or try to do them faster.</p> <div style="text-align:center;"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Sumo Squats</div></li></b> <p align="justify">Sumo squats are a little more challenging than sit to stands but you can still use a chair. Plus, a wider stance will help you add lean muscle to your thighs!</p> <p align="justify">Again placing the majority of your bodyweight in the heels, start with a slightly wider stance. Basically, do your best sumo wrestler impersonation. </p> <p align="justify">You’ll be moving laterally. Take a big, exaggerated step, opening the hip and stepping to the left or right. Bring the knee to about waist height (or as high as you can go). Land in a wide stance squat like Coach Tyler demonstrates in the picture.</p> <p align="justify">Keep your arms and upper body muscles engaged. A “proud chest” will keep your spine from slouching forward and give you a <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>full-body workout</b></a>.</p> <p align="justify">Make this a chair exercise by using the chair as a target—each time your butt touches, you’ve gone deep enough and can continue the rep. The exercise involves lateral movement but done correctly you’ll stay in the same place.</p> <p align="justify"><b>Chair Exercise Challenge</b>: Do 10 sumo squats every 30 minutes during work (or during <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>each TV commercial</b></a> before your favorite show gets back). Over time add reps or try to do them faster.</p> </ol> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>3 Core Strengthening Chair Exercises</header> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=" "> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt=" tyler-chair-exercise-fist-up"> </picture> <ol> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Contralateral Chair Squeezes</div></li></b> <p align="justify">This first exercise involves a contralateral movement. Contralateral exercises—<a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>like walking</b></a>—move side to side across your body. They require stabilization, core strength, and coordination as both sides of the body work together. If you have lower back problems they are fantastic way to work out your core.</p> <p align="justify">The goal is to move one elbow to the opposite side knee. Raise the opposite side knee off the ground towards the sky as the elbow comes across your body to touch. Don’t worry if you can’t touch right away. Hold for five to ten seconds. Release and switch sides.</p> <p align="justify">Done right, you’ll feel the muscles above your hip and near your ribs firing as you squeeze. </p> <p align="justify"><b>Chair Exercise Challenge</b>: Do 10 contralateral chair squeezes every hour that you spend sitting at work or watching TV. Hold each rep for at least seven seconds.</p> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Russian Twists</div></li></b> <p align="justify">A more advanced version of the contralateral chair squeeze is the Russian twist. Sit on the edge of your chair and lift your legs off the ground so both knees are above your waist. That alone may be challenging. Don’t give up!</p> <p align="justify">Now make a fist with your left hand and cup it with the right. With your legs still off the floor, reach across your body to touch the left chair handle (or if there are no handles, the space where it would be). Keep the feet off the floor still and reach across your body to the right side. That’s one.</p> <p align="justify"><b>Chair Exercise Challenge</b>: Do 20 Russian twists then take a one to two minute break. Do two more sets for a total of three, and do this three or more times this week!</p> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Leg Lifts</div></li></b> <p align="justify">Like <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>a plank</b></a>, this final fitness exercise is isometric. The hard work is in <i>holding</i> the position, not in flexing or extending your muscles. We’ve broken up this workout into three phases you can try, depending on your fitness level.</p> <p align="justify">Either hold the arms of the chair or place your hands on your lap. Now bring your knees above your waist at the same time. Hold here for 30 seconds or as long as you can—this is step one. </p> <p align="justify">The next step is to bring your feet out in front of you. Work towards locking your knees out. Fight for inches, even centimeters, and count every bit you move out toward a locked position as a win.</p> <p align="justify">The final step is to work towards getting one or both legs fully extended in front of you while seated in the chair. Your body in the final phase will look like an L. This takes a ton of core strength and fitness, so don’t get discouraged.</p> <p align="justify"><b>Chair Exercise Challenge</b>: Build off these three core chair workouts as often as you can! Aim to get to step three.</p> </ol> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Simple Chair Exercises—Wrapping Up</header> <p align="justify">It’s a bold claim to say that sitting is the new smoking, but the science behind it is real. Whether you work at a desk job or just enjoy sitting around, here are two simple and effective tips you can implement right now to regain your health:</p> <ul> <li><i>Always</i> sit with good posture by activating your core muscles. This will take the stress off muscles in the hips, legs, and upper body.</li> <li>Take frequent movement breaks. Whether you do a workout at your desk or take a walk around the office, don’t sit for several hours in a row!</li> </ul> <p align="justify">These simple chair exercises are just a few of the tons of workouts and fitness advice on <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>Warrior Made</b></a>’s <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>YouTube Channel</b></a> and our <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>exercise blog</b></a>. Take back your health and transform your body with our free at-home workouts and exercise advice!</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer">What are the risks of sitting too much?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer">Bad Posture and Back Pain Could Be Due to the Way You Sit All Day</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer">The Top 10 Benefits of Regular Exercise</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer">Benefits of Exercise</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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