Here’s how to break out of a sedentary lifestyle
Having an exercise routine you can do after, in-between, or before a full day at the work desk or couch is essential for your life, health, and productivity. In the 1900s, people worldwide were active between six and ten hours a day. Today, most of us make our livings with our minds instead of our bodies. We drive to work, we drive to run errands, and we often drive to our weekend outings. We sit all day at work, and we also commonly entertain ourselves by sitting—watching TV, reading, or going to the movies. Sitting all the time seems natural, but it’s not. Our bodies are designed to move. In truth, the more we stay static, the more we are hurting ourselves, becoming sedentary, weak, out-of-shape, and uncoordinated individuals.
Our bodies are made and designed to move — to push, pull, crawl, walk, jump, squat, hinge, throw, turn, twist, stretch, kick, run, hop, and roll. We as humans are made for this—but when was the last time you did any of those things?
A survey by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health revealed that adults spend an average of approximately 55 hours a week sitting in a chair, whether they’re watching television, using a computer or tablet, driving, or reading.
Worse still, women are often more sedentary than men because they tend to hold less physically active jobs than men do. It’s also common for women to spend less of their leisure time playing sports, especially as they get older. To combat a sedentary lifestyle, you need to embrace an approach built around the modern lifestyle — one that works with time constraints and your individual needs. That’s where these eight exercises come in, all of which help to combat the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. You’ll need a set of kettlebells and a yoga mat to complete this full set.
Place a kettlebell directly in the center in front of you. Then grab it with your left hand and use your right hand to reach all the way up to the sky—alternating sides. Then, take both your hands, reach up to the sky, come around, and grab both hands behind your back. Repeat this sequence of exercises for six reps. Then, to finish the warm-up, take both hands and stretch them to the sky. When you bring them down, pull on the kettlebell handle. Make sure your back is bent over. Do this move a few times.
2. Kettlebell swings
You’ll need two kettlebells for this exercise — a standard weight one that you’re used to and one that’s heavier. Reach down and pick up the standard weight kettlebell. Swing it in between your legs three times and set it down. Tilt into the heavier kettlebell and swing it in between your legs three times, too. Place it down. You’ll alternate between the two kettlebells, swinging each one three times for a total of six sets.
Space your feet on the floor evenly apart, bend over, and reach your arms up near your head. Hold this position for a few seconds. Then step into a plank position and hold for three seconds. Sit your knees back and stretch for three seconds. Push yourself back into the plank position. Set back up, reach your arms up near your head, and hold this position for four seconds. Place your palms facing the ground, and put your arms to the side of you. Hold this position for four seconds, and push your arms back out. Hold this position for another four seconds, making sure your abs are tight. Repeat this sequence of exercises. Go on your stomach and lift the upper part of your body with your hands almost behind your head. Go up and down a few times.
4. Kettlebell stretches
Take the heaviest of the two kettlebells and swing it between your legs six times. Then tilt the kettlebell toward you and hold it for four seconds, bending over. Let it go, and then squat for a few seconds to open up your hips. Again, tilt the kettlebell toward you and hold it for a few seconds.
Take the kettlebell that’s lower in weight, hold it near your chest with both hands, and do 10 squats. Make sure to look forward and squeeze your glutes. Keeping this weight, kneel and roll on each side for a total of six counts. Finish off the set by placing yourself in an upright sit-up position with the kettlebell still near your chest. Turn and twist to each side.
6. Kettlebell sit-ups
Position the kettlebell in between your feet and place yourself in the traditional sit-up position. Do ten old-school sit-ups with your feet anchored by the kettlebell. Then extend your body in a reverse plank position on your back and hold for five seconds. Keep the same position, but push your knees up against your arms for five seconds.
7. Back stretches
Come up, turn and twist into a cat-cow yoga position. Then transition to a downward-facing dog and hold for a few seconds. Resume a cat-cow position and again transition to a downward-facing dog. Do this sequence of exercises a few more times to stretch your back.
8. Leg lifts
Lying on your back on your mat, lift each leg all the way to the sky to stretch them out—alternate sides. Come up and place your arms over your head. Push your chest forward, and then connect your arms behind your back. Look above the horizon and inhale and exhale.
Dasha L. Anderson is a celebrated trainer and fitness expert in New York City, with a master’s degree in exercise science and sports nutrition and a specialty in performance enhancement and injury prevention. She is also the founder and head certifying instructor of Kettlebell Kickboxing and has contributed to Self, Shape, Fitness Rx, and Epoch Times.