This 20-minute workout will protect your back from the dangers of sitting down

This pilates workout will release tension from your back, helping you undo the damage of sitting

Man doing a pilates workout for his back
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Our backs and hips are being slowly, quietly damaged every day by sedentary lifestyles. If we work in an office environment, or sitting down at home, chances are we also spend much of our evenings in a sedentary position, watching TV or streaming services, or playing video games. Research shows that "sedentary employees are exposed to increasing occupational hazards such as back pain and mental health issues".

The best office chair can help us limit the damage to our spines by offering excellent lumbar support, but exercise is an excellent way to both become less sedentary, release tension in our backs and improve our mental health. Pilates, as a way to stretch out our hamstrings and hips and improve core strength in the "trunk" of our bodies – our lower backs and abdominals – is the perfect anti-sitting solution. 

Emily Hale, instructor at Build and Breathe pilates studio, took to our instagram to offer a complete follow-along workout. All you need is one of the best yoga mats and a little floor space to get started. 

Watch the full pilates workout below:

Why pilates?

This is an excellent workout to undo the damage of sitting, as Emily guides us through hip, back and core work.  Lots of gentle stretches held for long periods release lots of tension in the body and loosen up the lower back and hips. 

Our range of motion decreases when we sit for long periods, as our muscles tighten up and become shorter through lack of use, especially as we age. When we sit, our hips are in a fixed position for a longer period of time. 

Stretching, on the other hand, actively works to lengthen those muscles, as does resistance training. One study published by researchers from Portugal found "strength training and stretching were not different in their effects on range of motion" with both being of benefit. Pilates requires both resistance and stretching working in tandem. 

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Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.