The typical office worker is in her chair approximately six hours a day, and according to a study published in the Current Cardiovascular Risk Results, prolonged sitting is a "distinct health hazard." To combat the ill health effects of "sitting a lot at ease" and improve your alignment, I have created Sit-ilates™, pronounced sit-i-lot-ees.
These simple exercises based on Joseph Pilates' principles of spine alignment, breath and body posture are a great way to improve your bottom line. Sit-ilates™ helps stretch and strengthen the muscles of the body to help prevent arthritis and lower back pain and improve your posture. I have organized these movements from top to bottom. You'll work on your upper back, core and then lower back alignment. Sit at ease!
Step 1—Chest Stretch
Sit tall with your feet on the ground. Grasp your hands at the back of your chair and widen across the chest as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Inhale as you raise your rib cage away from your hips and then curl the chin down to your chest and exhale, contracting the abdominals and widening through the back. Repeat 10 times.
Step 2—Spine Rotation
Sit tall with your feet on the ground. Lift any 5- to 10-pound object (e.g., gallon of milk, a laptop or small weight) with arms extended out in front of your body. Lift the rib cage and inhale. Exhale as you rotate the object to your right. Keep shoulders relaxed and inhale as you return to center. Repeat on the other side and perform 10 reps.
Step 3—Seated V Balance
Sit to the front of your chair and slightly lean back off your sit bones. Staying tall and wide through your chest, inhale as you draw your knees up; exhale as you extend the legs, keeping them just a few inches off the floor for beginners and higher for more advanced. Repeat 10 times.
Step 4—Reverse Plank
Place your hands on the side of your chair's seat and walk your legs out forward with hips on the chair. Inhale to prepare and then exhale as you lift your hips upward, squeezing the backs of the thighs and hips. Hold for one to two seconds and return to seated position as you inhale. Repeat 10 times.
Step 5—Seated Roll Up
Sit tall with your feet on the ground and shoulder width apart, arms extended in front of you. Inhale as your curl your chin to your chest and slowly roll down between your knees to the floor. Reaching out and forward, exhale as you roll your spine one vertebrae at a time up to seated position. Lift your body slowly, feeling yourself lifting and stacking each vertebrae at a time. Repeat 10 times.