The school months mean sitting hour upon hour each day in classrooms and then at desks while studying. All of this sitting can be dangerous to students’ health, said Kathleen Hale, founder of Chair Free Project, a health movement to get people standing, walking and moving instead of sitting in chairs.
Hale offers these 10 tips for students to avoid hours of sitting that can lead to various health problems including “Dormant Butt Syndrome.”
1. Sit and Stand. Don’t stay sitting for too long. Prolonged sitting can have serious negative consequences on your health, regardless of your age or how much you exercise. In particular, college students can be at risk for developing life-threatening blood clots after hours of sitting and cramming for a test. To help remember to get out of your chair, clear a space on your dresser where you can place your laptop or textbooks. Stand up study at least every 45 minutes so you can get the blood flowing again.
2. There’s an App for That. If you need a reminder to get on your feet, there’s an app for that. Several actually. Check out Stand Up! or Stand App. These apps will remind you when you’ve been inactive for too long and some even reward you when you move!
3. Walk and Study. Flashcards have been shown to be one of the best ways to retain information. They’re also a great way to study while walking. Make some flashcards for a class where you need to do a lot of memorization. Then set out for a walk where you test yourself on the flashcards or invite a friend from class to quiz each other.
4. Look Up. Staring down at your computer screen can be a literal pain the neck. Neck pain can lead to headaches and interfere with your productivity. One of the best ways to avoid neck strain is to make sure you are not craning your neck downward while looking at the computer screen. If you have a monitor, place it at eye level. If you use a laptop, get a riser for it or even a couple reams of paper to raise it up to eye level.
5. Shoulders Back. Look around the computer lab on campus and you’ll see most people sitting with shoulders slouched inward. Not only can this position lead to hunched posture, it also can physically drain your energy. To avoid it, roll your shoulders back and then shrug them both up to your ears. Drop your shoulders down and release your breath.
6. Mix Up Your Environment. Research shows that changing your physical surroundings can help you better remember what you are studying in those different environments. Use this evidence as an excuse to get up and move. Sit in the library to study at first. Then take a walk with a friend in class and quiz each other before an upcoming test. Find a tall counter in the dining room to do some reading.
7. Deep Breathing. Studying can be stressful and stress can make you sick. To help calm yourself when facing a big test, learn some deep breathing practices to help relax the body.
8. Move It. Move It. Sometimes your body needs a serious wake up call. When you have been sitting in one place studying for a long time, you often need some spark to get going. Stand up, turn on some music and get moving. Jumping jacks, dancing or just jumping around can help to re-energize you.
9. Get Down. Outfit a dorm room or apartment with a comfy rug or big pillows. Spend some study time sitting on the floor. Floor sitting can help you open your hips, reduce back pain, and give you a chance to stretch your muscles.
10. Stand in Class. If you’re in an auditorium-size classroom, you might have the ability to stand quietly in the back of 300 other heads staring at the podium. It won’t draw any attention to you, and if it’s one of those three-hour long night classes, you’ll feel more energized and alert during class.