umans are meant to move. Unfortunately, sedentary behavior is an unavoidable consequence of modern-day life. Extended time in a chair can lead to all kinds of negative outcomes: it’s hard on your hip flexors and your spine, and it weakens your core and your glutes. Plus, studies have linked long periods of sitting to a decrease in overall health and a shorter life span.
The best fix would be to move more during the day, but that’s not always possible. The next-best solution is to stretch and strengthen the affected muscles, says Sage Rountree, a North Carolina–based endurance-sports coach and the author of Everyday Yogaand The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga. You’ll want to start by releasing the tightness that’s developed in your back, shoulders, chest, and core, and then activate and strengthen those muscles, she says.
Below, Rountree shares her favorite moves to target the muscles affected by sitting. She recommends doing them at least once a day. The first fiveexercises can be done anywhere, while the remaining five require floor space and props, like a yoga block, yoga mat, or foam roller. Do what you can on the fly, even if that’s just one or two moves every half-hour while you work. The whole routine should take 10 to 15 minutes.
As for intensity, remember: you’ve been sitting still. Your heart rate is low, your muscles are cold and stiff. These stretches should be gentle and feel good. “Only go to the point where it feels kind of interesting, where you can breathe completely naturally, even deeply,” Rountree says. “This is supposed to be a treat, not a chore.”
Focus on your breath—slow inhales, slow exhales. “That’s the secret ingredient here, because it can help you relax and refocus,” she says. “Do it all with attention to breath.”