Sitting is a tremendous health hazard, and the average American sits for eight hours per day. It is really important to address the issues that arise from sitting and to examine your clients’ daily activities outside the gym. Clients spend the majority of their day at work or home and the work done in the gym should reflect clients’ everyday behaviors to ensure proper function and prevent injury.

The most obvious hazard from sitting too much is a bad back. There is a greater risk of herniated disks and inflexibility in the spine. Slumping over also affects the neck and shoulders.  Additionally, abdominal muscles are not used when sitting, and can become mushy and underused, further aggravating back issues and posture issues.   Sitting also limits hip mobility and tightens and shortens hips and limits range of motion. Further, there is link between increased sitting and a higher risk for colon, breast and endometrial cancer. Movement increases antioxidant production, which lowers free radicals and therefore decreases cancer risk.

First, as your client’s personal trainer, you should teach teach them how to sit properly. Tell them not to lean forward, keep their shoulders relaxed and keep their arms close to their sides.  Their feet should be flat on the floor with the elbows bent at 90 degrees.  Encourage them to take frequent breaks and get up from their desk every 30 minutes. Next, incorporate stretches like cat/cow or hip flexor stretches into your weekly training sessions to alleviate issues from sitting.  Also, think about which exercises you can incorporate into your program to improve strength and posture.

What else have you done with your clients to prevent the pitfalls of sitting?


Denise Groothuis

Denise Groothuis MS, RD and CPT has a BS from Cornell University and an MS in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Columbia University. She is certified by the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) and licensed by the Commission on Dietetic Registration through the Academy of Nutrition of Dietetics. She is a personal trainer and RD with her own nutritional practice, Worth Your Weight Nutrition Experts.