Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Everyday Exercise: Sit and Stand

There are ways to get stronger and more flexible in our everyday activities, and most of us miss these opportunities by being in too much of a hurry. For example, every time you plop into a seat or thrust yourself up from a chair, you lose the opportunity to strengthen your legs, hip stabilizers, pelvic floor, and core muscles. Add vitality to your body by sitting down and standing up correctly. It won’t take but an extra ten seconds.

To stand up, scoot to the front of your chair. Make sure that your knees are pointing directly ahead and that they are aligned directly over your ankles. (For added benefit and to protect your joints, don’t let your knees fall in or out as you stand.) Lean your torso forward from the hips so your belly folds toward your thighs. When you’ve leaned far enough that your nose is over your toes, press evenly through both feet to lift yourself to standing.

To sit down, simply reverse the process. As you bend your knees (aligned straight ahead, remember?), reach back evenly with your sit bones (your tush, in other words) so your nose comes over your toes. Gently lower down until the chair is supporting your entire weight.

The added benefit of standing and sitting this way is that it relieves tension in your neck, which usually tries to “help.” Of course, the neck can’t lift us up, but that doesn’t mean the muscles don’t usually tense there.

When I teach this to a group, there is usually at least one person who has lost the strength to support their entire body weight with just the legs. Don’t let that happen to you! Practice this at least once a day.

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