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Embracing Active Sitting for Everyday Health

Did you know you have squatting facets in your ankles?

I mean it has been such a predominant way of sitting we actually have an anatomical peculiarity to accommodate it (Lieberman 2021). And yet how long can you squat for?

Those of us in the western hemisphere have become so fond of our chairs that we have de-conditioned our squatting ability to practically zero. (Raichlen et al 2020)

Why is this even important?

active sitting for health

To quote Daniel Lieberman, “we frequently mistake comfort for well-being” (Lieberman 2021). The danger is that getting so comfortable in your chair that you can literally switch off a stack of postural muscles means that, well you are switching off a bunch of really useful postural slow twitch muscles.

One of the many answers could be to active sit. What does this mean?

When we sit in a chair with back support we aren’t using our postural muscles to keep us upright. The Hadza people, a frequently studied group of living hunter gatherers, have no chairs but frequently sit, kneel or squat on the ground or lie down for about 15 mins at a time. (Raichlen et al 2020)

As quoted in Raichlen et al’s paper (2020):

“Sitting in postures that do not require much muscle activity (i.e., chair sitting) leads to reduced local muscle metabolism, with detrimental effects on lipid and glucose metabolism, blood flow and endothelial health, and regulation of inflammation.”

It was also discovered in this paper that the squatting and kneeling postures used more muscle activity than sitting in a chair.

And many of us have seen the Good Morning Britain section on the Sit-rise test that shows the ability to get down to the floor and up again not using your arms as a predicator of all cause mortality.

So improving your active floor sitting, during your work day and the transition between could help to improve flexibility, strength and increase your daily energy expenditure.