Should we sit or stand?




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Published April 8, 2016

Sitting is just as bad as smoking and will kill you even if you exercise regularly! Or at least that’s what CNN and the Sydney Morning Herald tell us. But is sitting really as bad as they say? Well, according to many recent studies, yes, yes it is. But many people also get pain from prolonged standing. So what should we do in practice?

See our answer here below. You can also register for one of our beginners Pilates Mat courses, which will be a great start in addressing the cause and symptoms of a sedentary work & lifestyle.

With the evolution of technology, our lives have become increasingly more sedentary. We sit more than ever we have before, whether that be in front of the TV, or in front of a computer at work. These changing lifestyle habits have led to an increase in health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney and liver conditions, and DVT (deep vein thrombosis). One study even links sitting with a shortened lifespan.


The reason for this is simple. Our bodies are made to move. When they don’t move they become agitated and don’t work as well as they should. Constant sitting compresses your muscles which restricts blood flow and circulation, which then restricts the flow of oxygen to your brain which means you aren’t using as much of your brain as you should be. In short your body goes into shut down mode.

So how can we counteract this?

  • Standing instead of sitting on public transport
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Getting up at least every half hour when at work
  • Standing and walking while on the phone
  • Switching from sitting in a hunched position to sitting with a straight back.
  • Reducing screen time

So if you’re worried that you’re sitting too much you know what to do….. Get up and get moving!

But if you have to stay seated or standing for prolonged periods, then here are some simple and easy Pilates exercises that can be done while at your desk or also whilst standing:

Chin tilt:

This exercise can be done whilst sitting or standing. You can even do it now as you’re reading this. You want to get as much space between your shoulders and ears as possible, then slowly let your head fall towards your chest as if trying to hold a tennis ball, or something of similar size, there. You should feel a stretch from your neck all the way down your spine. Repeat several times remembering not to let your back curve.

Ankle flexes:

Sitting in your chair, cross one leg over the other, joining at the knee. Then point the toes of the top leg as far away from you as possible and then flex the toes back. You should feel a stretch all the way up your calf. Swap legs and repeat on the other side. This exercise can be done at any point during the day, and as often as you feel like.

Ball and footwork:

Using a small ball (no bigger than a tennis ball) sit on the edge of your chair (whilst remaining upright) and place the ball under the ball of your foot (positioned under the knuckle of your big toe). Then using only your foot press down the heel of your foot and lift, spread and drum your toes back down over the ball, pushing down as the toes fall one by one. Do this three times and then move the ball to the knuckle of your second toe and repeat. Do this for all your toes on each foot.

Shoulder shrugs:

This one is an easy exercise and very good at relieving the tension that can become built up in your shoulders from constantly hunching over a computer. Simply bring your shoulders up to under your ears and then let them drop. Repeat this several times or as often as necessary.

If you are interested in learning more Pilates exercises in Canberra that can be done just about anywhere that you have to sit or stand for any period of time, try out one of our Pilates studios in Canberra and participate in one of our beginners Pilates mat courses.

About the author 

Claire Gunther is a PAA Principal Level Pilates Instructor with over 20 years and 20k+ hours of professional Pilates delivery experience.


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