Sitting All Day is Not a Death Sentence

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how “sitting will kill you,” as though chairs were some kind of lethal invention.

Here’s the reality: Sitting all day can have detrimental effects, if you don’t take care of yourself and combat those negative effects. But if you take care of yourself, sitting is not a death sentence.

Andy and Ryan had lots to say on this issue. Here’s a snippet of what Ryan had to say:

No one has ideal circumstances. You have to make do with what you’ve got. Find things that fit.

In this episode, Andy and Ryan cover some best practices you can incorporate to mitigate the possible damages from excessive sitting.

Here’s what this episode will include:

(01:47) It’s kind of presupposed in our programs that you’ll be spending a good chunk of your day in less-than-ideal circumstances.(06:36) – Newsflash: The GMB team spends a lot of time sitting in front of computers, just like you.(10:21) – How Ryan mitigates the damage of sitting all day.(10:48) – Ryan shares his “secret” perfectly ergonomic chair 😉(14:00) – There are certain little things you can do to optimize your work station.(19:34) – You don’t have to be perfect all the time. Do what you can when you can.(19:50) – You’ll be amazed what 5 minutes of stretching in the morning can do for you.(22:11) – Ryan’s morning lacrosse ball routine.

Andy: Are you like sitting correctly in your chair with your butt placed all the way back against it and your arms at the right angle? No, you get interesting. You go, “Huh?” and then your neck is like – and your shoulder is like this.

That’s how you spend the time. You could be in a $2000 chair and if you’re like this, it’s not helping you.


Andy: All right. Breaker one-niner on the interweb. Get your ears on for the GMB Show where the next 20 minutes plus or minus, we’re going to be talking about how to get stronger and how to be healthier for the things that matter to you without banging your head against the wall with things that suck.

My name is Andy. Here’s Ryan, head coach, all around badass and you’re ready to drop the hammer.

Ryan: Hit it!

Andy: All right, all right. So today we’re going to be talking about something that actually a lot of people have asked us. We put out all these resources and videos and stuff and we get a lot of comments that say, “Oh, that’s easy to say but I don’t have ideal circumstances. I work in an office all day. I sit at a desk. I don’t get to just stretch out. I can’t like get down on the floor between cubicles and do a handstand or whatever.”

So how do I stay healthy and how do I keep a good range of motion and keep from having aches and pains and stuff even though I have to spend – I have no choice. I have to spend some time sitting down.

That’s not uncommon. In fact, it’s kind of presupposed in our programs too that you’re going to be spending a lot of your day in less than ideal circumstances. But anyway, that’s what we’re going to be talking about mainly today. First though, you want to answer some questions Ryan?

Ryan: Sure, let’s do it.


Andy: All right. One of the first ones is – we actually get this one a lot too and we haven’t made any kind of resources on it but people keep asking us all the time. How about the human flag? How can I train for that? I mean obviously we can’t give a full tutorial here. But yeah, what about the flag?

Ryan: Yeah, the flag, that’s interesting. I actually did a demo of that last year when I was in Melbourne teaching at the seminar. I showed first off of me wrapping the arm. So I guess you would call it a baby flag. I don’t know what you call it.

Andy: The clutch flag.

Ryan: The clutch flag, thank you. There you go. So the clutch flag and then I showed from the side here. So instead of – I don’t know if you can really see me too much but instead of locking both arms out, the variation of the clutch where you bring your elbow in to your side and work from there.

So there are a couple of things with the flag and one of the main things is actually getting up into it. So not necessarily just holding it but actually being able to get your legs up to perform it.

So it’s that jumping up and then trying to hold. So I would actually work from the top down instead of just trying to jump right into it. But start off with your clutch flag and then go into having your elbow in your side while holding on to the pole. Just make sure your hands are in opposite directions and then you can also switch them around later once you get it.

But focusing on that and making sure that you get some core strength built up that way before you start trying to do the full extension for the flag. There’s so many different ways that we could teach it but this is a cool move.

Yeah, I do it sometimes. I actually learned this from my dad which is [0:04:03] [Inaudible]. When I was really young, I remember he used to do it all the time until he taught me the clutch flag and then eventually just ended up doing the full flag with my dad. I don’t think he can do it anymore. It was kind of cool that he’s the one who taught me how to do that.

Andy: It’s very neat and like we said, we don’t have any tutorials on that. It’s not in any of our programs. The flag is really one of those things that it’s more of a demonstration than a training move. I mean it’s not that training for it won’t make you strong but it’s not something that we really consider an exercise. So it’s not in any of our programs but one guy that does have I think two or three really good tutorials is Al …

Ryan: Al. Yeah, I was going to say that too.

Andy: Check out his channel on YouTube. We will link to those tutorials in the blog post that goes with this episode but Al has an excellent flag. He does it off of everything he can find, I think.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: Kind of one of his little signature moves. So he has got some tutorials. So if you want more on that, then check that out too.

Ryan: I haven’t done one in a long while. I think I might have to go and try and see if I can still do one today.

Andy: Yeah. Just in general though, what would you think would be kind of like – when could somebody consider training for flag? Like what would they need to like basically have before?

Ryan: I would say definitely be able to do – even though it’s a little bit different but I would definitely be able to perform a tuck-up to an inverted hang if you’re working on the rings, just for that core strength, and then also be able to do that with straight arms because you’re going to have to lock your arms out when you’re doing the human flag. But just building up to it and I would at least start off with being able to do on the rings, straight arm, pull to inverted hang.

Andy: Cool.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s what I would do.


Andy: All right, great. So let’s talk about people that have to spend time sitting down because there’s a lot of people teaching things out there and there has been this whole thing the past few months, like science tells you that sitting kills you. It’s not actually sitting but the amount of time you spend sitting down correlate to low activity overall which correlates with mortality and there’s this whole hysteria about oh, sitting is going to kill you.

Well, but a lot of us, we sit down and so people tell us all the time, “Hey, you guys, I don’t have the freedom you guys do. I have to sit down in a chair at a computer and work all day.” I don’t know if any of you guys have noticed this but we’re creating videos and things on the internet and that requires us to be sitting down.

Ryan: We sit down a lot.

Andy: A lot, yeah. So yeah, everyone at GMB, a big part of our day is sitting down in front of a computer and no, it’s not ideal. But in order to create the things we create and put them in front of you, we have to spend a lot of time at computers too. So what I’m trying to say is we can totally empathize.

Ryan: Yeah, except for me because all I do is work out all day long. I do …

Andy: That’s all Ryan does.

Ryan: I wake up. I work out. I take a nap. I work out and then I eat and that’s it. Now of course I’m kidding, but we spend so much time in front of the computer and so it’s – sure, you see me performing skills and doing all this other jazz. But no, a big part of the day is answering questions in front of the computer.

Andy: How long each day would you say you spend answering emails?

Ryan: Oh my goodness. Well, not just emails but like being on the forum and things like that. I’m on there quite a while and so in fact, I could tell you pretty much exactly because the time is set. So I will spend – the first thing in the morning is I will spend an hour going over things that need to go be done. I will work on things and then I will of course do my workout. In the afternoon, it’s pretty much from 12:00 noon to about 4:00. Yeah, just depending on the day.

Andy: Yeah. And then editing videos. It’s writing.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly.

Andy: You know, all the things.

Ryan: Or podcasts like we’re doing now, shows, things like that.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: You, I’m sure a lot more. But yeah, it just got to be done. It just got to be done.

Andy: Yeah.


Ryan: So what can we do? What can we do for working in an office and we want to get healthy?

Andy: Yeah, and I think the biggest way to look at it is not that OK, here’s the ideal standard I should compare myself against because it’s total bullshit. Ideal standards really they don’t mean anything to anyone and nobody lives that way unless that’s pretty much all you do.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: Right? There are a few people like that but the thing is you can’t compare yourself to somebody’s routine like that because you don’t have that luxury. So the better way to think of it though is damage control. You are going to be in this situation. It’s less than ideal. Yes, you must be sitting down at a computer X number of hours, X days a week for X years.

I mean let’s just take that as a given. We can say all day long, “Well, it would be better if you got a standing desk and if you reorganized your work day or if you quit your job and join the forest rangers,” or whatever.

None of that is really constructive because most of us don’t have that kind of control over what we’re doing in our career, right? So it’s damage control. Assume that it’s going to suck and then how can we mitigate that.

Ryan: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Andy: So Ryan, you spend a lot of your day at your desk computing. What are some of the things that you do to try to make it suck less?

Ryan: Well, I do of course – I’m lucky because I can just go over to the mat and maybe do something if I want to. But looking at it like everyone else and having to think about that, there are times when I can’t do that. So what do I do? I try and at least make sure that the chair that I sit on is like working for me. OK?

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: Now a lot of you would be surprised to see the chair I actually sit in. I’m going to show you right now. Oh my goodness, that’s not a perfect chair for sitting. OK. Well it is for me and the reason why is because it forces me to sit straight and keep a straight back when I work. Also it’s not comfortable so it kind of forces me to stand up every once in a while. Just stand up.

Andy: Yeah, that goes kind of counter to convention too because now we have all these and we’ve got ergonomic chairs and work stations and stuff. But you know what? If you have a $1200 Herman Miller chair, right? Now they’re great.

Ryan: I was going to say those are awesome chairs.

Andy: If it’s not adjusted correctly and if you don’t sit in it correctly, it’s not worth a damn.

Ryan: It’s like anything, right? Yeah.

Andy: Yeah, exactly, right? You can have a special work station with wrist gel pads and shit but if you don’t use it correctly, it’s not worth a lot because here’s the thing. When you’re working at your desk or something, are you like sitting correctly in your chair with your butt placed all the way back against it and your arms at the right angle? No, you get interesting. You go, “Huh?” and then your neck is like – and your shoulder is like this.

That’s how you spend the time. You could be in a $2000 chair and if you’re like this, it’s not helping you. So you need instead of buying shit, you need to instead address the habit, right? Your stool, the $20 tool.

Ryan: It forces me to do that. It’s not even that.

Andy: But it forces you to sit upright and stand up and do parades [0:12:28] [Phonetic] and stuff.

Ryan: For me that’s it and I’m not going to say especially for me. This sounds horrible, like I’m like especially for me. But in my case, I want to be doing my handstands. I want to be doing all my other stuff and if I’m slumped over and I get these kinks in my neck and everything, it’s not going to help me for my handstands and that means it’s not going to help any of you out there because I’m not going to be able to teach the stuff for all of you all out there.

But you don’t have to have these special things. It’s just a matter of paying attention to what you’re doing and we talked about that in our programs, right? What’s going on? How are you sitting? What are you doing? Something else for example – I address this with some people – well, my students over here, they would angle themselves and they would type and they would cross a leg. They would cross a leg and they’re having trouble with like their hip or something like that and I just ask them. How do you sit? They told me and I was like let’s just work on how you sit and so little things like that can actually make a big, big impact on what you’re doing.

Andy: Yeah.


Andy: If you want ergonomic advice, there’s a lot of stuff if you just use the Google. You can find all kinds of stuff. You don’t have to follow all the fancy advice but in terms of like making sure your chair is the right height, making sure you’re the right distance from your desk and stuff like that, I mean it’s little things. But it really does help, right? I found that if I pull my chair like three inches closer to my desk, I don’t bend forward.

Ryan: Oh, yeah.

Andy: Because I don’t feel like I have to reach for stuff, right? So that’s just me. I used to sit back further and I would always find myself like this. That’s dumb. Just move the chair forward, right? So little things like that make a big difference but also like habits. Like if you tend to turn to the side when you do something, see if you can rearrange some of that stuff.

But the bigger thing is the habit and I don’t think we’ve talked about it on the show before but people – when people ask us about posture, what exercises should I do for posture?

Well, it’s great to have a strong upper back. It’s great to have good shoulder mobility but what’s more important is that posture is a habit and good seated posture is the same way. So you need to set reminders if you have like a calendar program that you can set, automated reminders, every like 15 minutes, every 20 minutes. It just like dings and oh, you have to sit up, right?

If it takes that, that’s fine. But use it to build a habit because that’s going to be worth a lot more to you than a $1000 chair or they have like these – like $1000 monitor stands that you can shift between like sitting and standing heights and stuff and that’s pretty cool. But you don’t need it.

So that’s sitting. That’s posture. That’s habit. So what else do you do, right? So that’s a little bit preventative. How do you kind of mitigate some of the stuff after you’ve been sitting for a long time?

Ryan: I don’t have it with me. I mean it’s right over there. Lacrosse ball is like my best friend and I just use it all the time, all the time. Get on the floor and I do that. Now some of you out there are going, “Well, I can’t do that during office hours.”

Well, that’s cool. You can do it after you go home or before you go to work or something like that. It doesn’t have to be exactly right there. So if I’m done, I will roll around on the ball and that’s fine. This goes for stretching too.

Something that Kit Laughlinand I – when we talked, he brought up something that I think is wonderful and a lot of people need to hear. You stretch when you can. That’s it.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: That’s it. I mean that’s the big secret. You stretch when you can. If you can’t stretch while you’re working at your office, it’s perfectly fine. You can go home and stretch a little bit. Also something he said that was great was that you don’t stretch hard every single day. You only stretch hard once a week and the rest of the days or just little checks, just moving the body and little bit in and out and that’s enough.

So if this guy Kit who’s amazing and he’s stretching, working with athletes and everybody is saying this, then if you are working in an office, yeah. After your work, stretch a little bit and you’re going to be fine. So for me, using the ball and then later stretching is perfectly fine.


Ryan: So also something else at least with people when I’m working over here – they’re coming to get me. Here come the cops. Could you hear that? I hope not.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: So people say, “You know, I don’t have any time to do anything during the day and I would like to stand up and stretch, but I can’t,” because maybe it looks kind of funny or something like that. My question is, “How often do you go to the toilet a day?” You will probably go a couple of times when you’re at work, right?

So what you could do is when you go into the toilet, in your own little private area, you can stretch your arms up a little bit. You can touch your toes or something like that and you think about it that way. That’s a couple of times during the day. That will give you the opportunity to get up and stretch your body.

Andy: Yeah, what is that? A yoga, just …

Ryan: Yeah, just …

Andy: Mountain?

Ryan: Mountain pose, yeah. It’s just mountain pose. So just that, just trying to touch the ceiling. That’s it.

Andy: It doesn’t take any – it doesn’t look weird.

Ryan: No, that’s it.

Andy: You don’t have to chant “ums” or anything while you do it. Just stretch out the front of your body, right? Very easy. You can work out your neck, your jaw.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: Yeah, your wrists. Little things like that. Nobody is going to look at you funny for doing a couple of wrist circles every hour or so. Little things like that can actually make a really big difference. I like to just open and close my hands and kind of release some of the tension in my fingers and hands. It makes a really big difference.

Ryan: Now along those lines too, one lady, she needed to work on her squat and she just wanted to work on it as much as possible. So we actually had her – when she would go to the toilet, she would work on her squats. So that’s another opportunity to work on that and that’s of course a little bit different but just showing you that. Use what you can and the opportunities that you have and work around that. So it doesn’t need to be difficult.

Andy: Yeah. Yeah, cool. So that’s while you’re at work and stuff and just as in anything, you don’t have to be perfect all the time. Do what you can when you can and so your work situation is your work situation and you may get a chance to do some stuff during the day. You might not get a chance to do very much. But like you were saying Ryan, when you get home, right? You can stretch some when you get home.


Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: For me, I find that if I stretch a little bit in the morning and that’s not a killer stretch, it’s not even 10 minutes. It’s like five minutes of very basic maintenance level stretching. Like again, like Kit’s great line about stretching is to interrogate your body.

Well, in the morning, I just kind of like go through a few positions and I’m just asking my body. Just asking my body, how far can you go today?

Ryan: Yes.

Andy: Right? I get that answer, right? I know like OK, this is how stiff I am today, right? OK, that’s fine. That’s all I need to know. After that, once I’ve just kind of checked, the rest of my day I feel a lot freer and just moving around. It takes less than five minutes to do that, right?

Ryan: That’s a great, great point, yeah. I like that. It’s good. That’s really good.

Andy: You can set yourself up in the morning to feel less tension throughout the day, right? Some people are like, “Oh yeah, I go running every morning.” You hear these people and they make you sick, right? They’re like, “Oh, every morning I get up at like 4:30. I have fresh juice and then I go for a jog and then I do my workout and then like I get a shiatsu massage.” Like, how the hell will you have time and money to do this?

Like, I don’t know. Some people listening to this probably do that kind of stuff and it’s great if you can. I can’t and the thing is it’s not because I don’t get up in the morning. I get up before 6:00 every day. You know what I hate more than anything in the world? Working out in the morning. I cannot fucking stand it.

I like working out in the afternoon or evening. I do not like anything that resembles exercise in the AM at all. I want to drink my coffee, read my book, whatever and do a little bit of stretching but that’s it man. But you can still set your day up. It’s not like you have to do this whole routine, right?

You can shake out the tension, right? Stretch out a little bit and just like spend a couple of minutes breathing. That’s one thing I do is I spend like less than five minutes just kind of meditating every morning too. Again, I’m not chanting “ums” or anything. I’m just kind of like breathing, right?

It’s not hard. It doesn’t take a lot of time but the rest of the day goes so much more smoothly. So you can do this and set the thing up and oh, it’s just nicer, right?

Ryan: Yeah. All right. I will share. Since you’re sharing your secrets, I will share mine. My big thing in the morning is again the lacrosse ball. But I only do it in one place. It’s the bottom of my feet. So when I’m sitting at the breakfast table because again, like you, I’m up very, very early with the kids. The whole family is there.

I have a ball underneath the table and so I’m sitting there because I don’t eat breakfast. I’m just drinking my coffee and I’m rolling out the bottom of my feet. So that’s all I do to get going in the morning and then usually of course I will walk the kids to school.

Andy: Yeah. Rolling the feet under is good because it kind of releases a lot of other stuff off the back of the leg too. But yeah, that’s a really good one. Yeah.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: Good. Same thing in the evening too. Just spend a few minutes like relaxing before you go to sleep. You would be amazed at how much better you sleep if you turn off the computer and TV and spend a couple of minutes stretching or breathing. It doesn’t have to be a long time but it will help you then sleep better which helps you wake up better which helps the next day go even better.

So that’s the thing is it’s damage control during the day and it’s trying to make the rest of your day when you do have a little bit of time, just trying to make it sort of undo some of that damage.

So if you’re worried about, “Well, I don’t have ideal circumstances,” neither do we. No one does. You have to make do with what you’ve got but find things that fit. Try to mitigate the damage just a little bit at a time, one or two minutes at a time. Fit stuff in when you can and honestly, you can still make great progress if you consistently do little things, right? You don’t have to do everything. Just do a few things that are good consistently.

Ryan: Yeah. All right. I think we’re going to end it there. That’s really good. If you do have any other questions, ideas maybe about – in the work place, some things that helped you, and that you think that can help other people, please let us know and we could share those with the rest of everyone out there. All right. Anything else to add there Anders?

Andy: No.

Ryan: No. All right. Thank you for listening everybody. We will see you next time.

[End of transcript]

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