Sitting Series – Part 3: Why Working Out to Offset Sitting Isn’t Enough

Did you know that inactivity accounts for 9 percent of premature mortality around the world?* All because of something that can be avoided. Studies have found that even if adults are meeting appropriate physical activity guidelines, if they sit for prolonged periods of time outside of their exercise, their health is still compromised. Unfortunately, working out to offset sitting is not as simple as it sounds.


The research on the health risks of sitting is growing, and it is all finding that high sitting time is associated with a higher risk of adverse health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and mortality, even after adjustment for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. This means that even if you exercise hard at the gym for an hour, if you are sitting too long the rest of the day, you are still at risk!

If you haven’t already, I recommend reading Part 2 of the Sitting Series – How to Sit Less and Feel Better at Work. It will give you some great, easy-to-implement tips for sitting less at work. It’s important to move around more at work, but what about the rest of your day?

Exercise Outside of Your Routine

The average person is awake for 16 hours a day. If you’re working a typical 8-hour work day, that leaves another 8 hours where you’re not at work. How can we make sure that you sit less during these hours? Try this:

  • Park farther away in parking lots
  • Take the stairs instead of elevators/escalators
  • Get up and walk around during TV commercials
  • Go outside for a walk after dinner
  • Do some light stretching/yoga before bed
  • Spend 30-60 minutes exercising at home or at the gym

All of these tips won’t consume too much of your time, but they can drastically reduce the number of hours you spend sitting.

Exercise for Problem Areas affected by sitting

You can also try to do a few exercises that target the problem areas that sitting causes: tight hip flexors, weak core, weak glutes, and a tight upper back. Try these 4 exercises to hit all of those problem areas in minutes:

Hip Flexor Stretch

Start in a lunge position and drop your back knee to the ground. Then drive your hip forward until you feel a stretch in your hip and front of your thigh. Make sure you keep your chest tall throughout the stretch. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and then repeat on the other side.


Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Driving through your heels, raise your hips of the floor so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause at the top squeezing your glutes, and then slowly lower your body back to the floor. Repeat 10-15 times.

Toe Taps

Lie on your back with your arms next to your sides. Raise both legs up so your knees form a 90 degree angle and your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Slowly lower your left foot to the floor, and tap your toe on the floor lightly and pull your leg back up to the starting position. Repeat with the right leg. Do 10 each leg.

Cat Cow Pose

Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips, and your wrists are under your shoulders. Take a big deep inhale. On the exhale, round your spine up towards the ceiling, and tuck your chin towards your chest. On your inhale, arch your back, and lift your head and tailbone up. Repeat 10 times.

These 4 exercises will help keep your muscles loose and help reduce your risk of sitting-related injuries. I realize that we can’t just avoid sitting completely. So if and when you truly do need to sit, try to sit the right way:  sit up straight, shoulders relaxed, arms in at your side, and feet flat on the floor.

For information on our yoga and related classes to help offset sitting, contact a Cornerstone Clubs Membership Advisor.

*(Chau 2013).


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