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Fitness for Body, Mind and Spirit

GreenNote Life

Fitness for the body, mind & spirit

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Thoughtful Thursday…4 ways to minimize negative impact of sitting...

Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.

negative impact of sitting

What do high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, muscle decline, weight gain, brain fog, and back and neck pain all have in common? Hint. They are all side effects of sitting all day long.

It’s no wonder is it? In our post-industrial, technological world we sit staring intently into our monitors, we sit at airports waiting to sit on planes, we strain our necks and eyes as we pear into our tiny little screens frantically returning emails and scheduling meetings. And we drive home to sit in front of our giant television screens to turn around and do it all again the next day.

This is the world we live in but there is something we can do about it. Today you will learn 4 things to minimize the negative impact of sitting.

Before we get to some practices that you can have in your fitness toolkit to help minimize the negative impact of sitting, let’s look at a few things that are happening to our bodies as we sit for extended periods of time.

  • A New York Times article points out that after just an hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat in your body declines by as much as 90 percent. Extended sitting slows your body’s metabolism of glucose and decreases HDL (this is the type of lipid you want more of, not less)

  • Those who sit for extended periods of time have a higher risk for Type II diabetes and cardiovascular problems

  • 90% more pressure is put on your back when you sit verses when you stand according to a study done at Cornell University Department of Ergonomics

This may be the technological world we live in, however, there are things within our control. Here are some tips to incorporate into your day at the office and when you are at home.

Move more often

Sounds so simple. We know this isn’t happening frequently enough given the number of people with low back pain and other postural aliments. According to NASA’s former director of LifeScience Division, Dr. Joan Vernikos, We aren’t designed to sit. The body is a perpetual motion machine.”

  • We need to frequently change our postural positions and take small movement breaks throughout the day. Set an alarm on your phone or computer so that every 30 minutes you fluctuate between sitting and standing. Every 60 minutes get up, walk around and drink some water. (See below for resources).

  • Maintain proper torso alignment regardless of what position you are in. Sitting, especially while doing computer work or texting, tends to result in leaning forward with your head, neck, shoulders, and upper back. Teach your body to support itself in a more neutral position without over correcting.

  • Low-Intensity “non-exercise” activity such as standing or walking are much more important than most realize. In fact, low level activities play a crucial metabolic role and account for more of our daily expenditure than moderate to-in-high intensity activities. ~


Stretching can help us get back into alignment and it doesn’t take that long to do.

  • This stretch tip comes from Physiotherapist Cheyne Voss. When you get up from your desk, place your hands in the small of your lower back, push hips slightly forward and lean back as far as you can 2-3 times to reset the natural curve of you spine.

  • Kelly Starett recommends us to realign the pelvis by standing up, point feet forward or slightly inward, squeeze the butt tightly, internally rotate feet inward 10-15 degrees so big toes are slightly pointed to each other. Roll feet to the outside of the arch and then try to pull the back of the legs together without the heels moving. This will allow the thigh and butt muscles to work together. I just did this and got a nice “pop” in my lower back.

  • Kelly Starett’s couch stretch see video here (go to 2:30 minute mark). As Kelly says, you will undo years of sitting. Do this a couple of times per week. It only takes a few minutes to make your hips feel great.


Your 30 to 60 minute workout in the gym all is for not if the rest of the day is spent being sedentary. As tells us, it is a common misconception that exercise can compensate for too much sitting. Even if you engage in the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week, you are still subject to the negative impact of too much sitting.

You can do these exercises to help the body get back into a more favorable postural position. These help combat the damage done from sitting - rounded shoulders, neck tipping forward, and tightened hip flexors

  • Shoulder resistant band exercise - check out this video

  • Bird dog - from hands and knees position, simultaneously extend your left arm in front of you and your right leg behind you. Pause for ten seconds and repeat other side for 5 rounds.

Protect your eyes

Sitting (and standing) brings with it much screen time so we need to pay attention to our eye health. As we learned about in Natural ways to maximize eye heath, one of the biggest threats to eye health is the daily strain of staring at a computer screen, phone, and tablet. The newsletter provided tips and resources to help protect your eyes. Here are a few reminders.

  • Glare from digital screens effects the eyes. Use a desk lamp instead of overhead light if possible.

  • Use Blue light blocking glasses during the day to filter the blue light from digital devices.

  • Got off all screens two to three hours before bed. This will help you get to sleep easier.

Apps to remind you to step away from the computer:

We live in a digital age. Devices are at our finger tips. We use computers all day long. That is the world we live in so we need a little bit of awareness to make some small changes that will help us operate optimally. Little changes can make big differences.

We are reminded that “non-exercise” is more important than we realize. The very technological advancements that have us sitting and slumped over can also gently remind us we need to stand up and realign our posture. Let's consciously incorporate a movement practice throughout the day.

If you will excuse me, I’m going to put this machine in motion...

Enjoy your journey,

Lisa Schaffer

You wouldn’t happen to know just one person that would benefit from this information? Please forward it to them!

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