Be honest. This time of year, the statistics suggest you are probably one of them. 55% of women and a whopping 73% of men watch football. Sitting for hours, with the occasional pop-up to cheer, boo, munch or take a lav break. Do you watch only your favorite team or do you pull the all-weekender? Have you ever actually counted how many hours you spend watching football? How about sitting in general?
Recently, the Wall Street Journal featured an article: “sitting, for extended periods, increases the risk for developing dozens of chronic conditions, from cancer and diabetes to cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” That’s not good, but, there’s more. Prolonged sitting causes damage to your muscles, as well. If you sit too much, you could suffer disk damage, create inflexibility in your spine, have tight hips, limp glutes, and even mushy abs! Oh, and it could shorten your life. The Washington Post reports that people who watch the most TV have a 61% greater risk of dying than those who watch less than an hour per week.
I am not giving up my football!
Now, no one is suggesting a gridiron binge ban. But, you need to take advantage of the time in between plays, which believe it or not, is significant. Did you know the average NFL broadcast only airs 11 minutes of play action, while the game itself lasts an average of 3 hours and 12 minutes?
Just move it…
That leaves you 3+ hours to get up, move around and stretch. Here are my recommendations for simple things you can do to stay limber between plays:
- Extend your legs: From the edge of the couch, extend both legs in front of you and point and flex your toes 10 times.
- Knee Pull: Sit upright with back supported or not (harder if not), hold one knee and slowly pull towards chest, then pull across the body mid-line towards the opposite shoulder, hold 20 seconds and switch.
- Go up and down: From a seated position move to the edge of your chair or your couch, stand straight up, without bending at the waist, keep your back flat and don’t use your hands for support. Try to do this 10 times.
- Hamstring Stretch (tough one so ask me at your next appointment for a demo): Stand in a staggered stance with both feet facing forward. Place your hands on your waist, fingers forward, maintain the forward curve of your lower back, head up, looking straight ahead. With your elbows back, bend at the waist, DO NOT round your back. Bring your chest forward until you feel the pull in the back of your front leg. Hold for 20 seconds and switch.
- Back Extensions: Place your hands on your hips, gently push downward, pull shoulders backward, raise the chest upward and arch back slowly. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat 3-4 times.
- Take a deep breath: Stand up as tall as you can, open your arms wide as possible, look up to where your wall and ceiling meet and take a comfortable deep breath expanding your chest and lungs. You should feel a gentle stretch across the top of your chest. Do not hold your breath, just breathe out at a comfortable pace. Good to repeat 2 to 3 times.
- If you have the balance, sit on an exercise ball instead of the couch, even for a quarter.
- Stand up all the way through every possession your team has the ball.
- Be a cheerleader. Literally jump for joy when the play goes your way, or writhe in agony when the other team scores. (as long it’s not against your current prescribed restrictions 😉
- Simply get up and move around in between plays. Go outside and breathe in some fresh air.
These stretches and tips apply whether you are taking in the game, binge-watching the latest NetFlix series or just sitting at your desk all day. The main thing is to move as much as possible. Have others join with you and take stretch breaks often.
Who knows, maybe your increased energy will help propel your team to victory.