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Sit Smarter to Improve Whole Body Health and Longevity

By Catherine Stifter November 13, 2022 Health and Fitness

Have you ever heard that sitting on the floor is one of the best ways to stay active, live long and be healthy? It may seem silly or even impossible because right now it’s not easy for you to get up and down from the floor.

And that points right to the problem for many of us – we’ve lost the muscle strength and range of motion in our joints not because of how long we’ve lived, but from spending way too many of those years sitting in just one shape. It’s the same shape whether we’re sitting on a chair, in the car, on a bike or on the couch.

As biomechanist Katy Bowman writes, “The problem isn’t sitting or standing, but the constant and continuous use of a single position.”

Floor-Sitting and Longevitgy

There are many good reasons to sit on the floor. It’s a common and traditional way to sit in many cultures and spiritual practices. According to an article about the longevity of people living in Blue Zones around the world:

“Okinawan centenarians sit and get up from the floor dozens or hundreds of times per day. This exercises their legs, back, and core in a natural way as they get up and down all day long. Sitting on the floor also improves posture and increases overall strength, flexibility, and mobility.”

If those benefits aren’t enough for you to consider sitting on or nearer to the floor more often, take a look at this scientific study that correlates the “ability to sit and rise from the floor without support” with a longer life expectancy.

Is Floor-Sitting Good for You?

“Many goldeners find getting down to the ground and back up again daunting, so if you’re one of them, rest assured you’re in good company,” Katy writes in her book, Dynamic Aging.

Can you imagine feeling comfortable and confident enough to sit on the floor to eat dinner, watch a movie or when visiting friends in their homes?

Katy Bowman says our environments shape us, especially at home. “Our beds, couches, and chairs, as comfortable as they are, prevent us from making it down to the floor. And so we must slowly start using our body in ranges of motion that have been stifled by use of furniture, until we redevelop enough strength in our legs, hips, and arms to carry us more easily.” 

Start with the Chair Squat

You’re already getting down and up multiple times each day – from chairs, car seats and toilets. How you do it makes all the difference to which muscles you are strengthening. You need to intentionally engage your backside (glutes and hamstrings) to rise up to standing. The best way to build better get-up techniques is to practice them as an exercise before you drop down to the floor.

Try this Chair Squat:

  • Sit on a flat, hard chair; ideally one where your hips are slightly higher than your knees.
  • Scoot forward to the edge of the chair and tip the top of your pelvis forward (so you are not sitting on your tailbone).
  • Adjust your feet so your ankles are directly below your knees.
  • Reach your arms forward and lean forward.
  • Shift your body weight into your HEELS as you stand up.
  • Rise to full standing.
  • Lower yourself back down slowly.
  • If you can’t lower without plunking those final few inches, bolster up with a pillow or blanket to a height where you can land softly.
  • Go slow to get stronger. Strengthening your glutes and hamstrings can take weeks, months or years.
  • Practice dozens of times every day, every place that you sit down.
  • As you get stronger, lower the bolster and lower your sitting elevation, maybe all the way to sitting on the floor.

How Much Do You Really Sit Each Day?

By now, you might be convinced that sitting all the time is a sure path to pain, stiffness and poor health. But you may think you don’t really sit that much each day. If you want to find out, there’s an easy way to calculate your sedentary minutes per day.

I actually decided to write this blog after I came across the results of my own calculations from September, 2016. That’s when I was still working fulltime, commuting long-distance to a fluorescent-lit cubicle.

At that time, I spent 150 minutes each day commuting, 420 minutes sitting at work, 90 minutes eating, 120 minutes watching movies or reading books for entertainment. For a total of a stunning 81% of my day spent on my butt with my legs bent 90 degrees at the ankles, knees and hips.

When I saw that percentage, I immediately requested two “work from home” days each week. (This was long before the pandemic. There’s far more remote work and less commuting for many people now.) On those days, I would only sit 65% of my day. That was when I began to plan my retirement and started my training as a movement teacher!

Here’s How to Make Your Own Calculations

There are 1440 minutes in a day. Calculate the number of your usual minutes spent sleeping. Subtract that number from 1440 and that is your minutes awake each day. Now, add up the total of your usual sedentary/sitting minutes each day. All the driving, eating, reading, working, movie-watching minutes.

Calculate your daily percentage of sedentary time by dividing the total sitting minutes by the total awake minutes. Your percentage may shock you into doing something different sooner than later. It did for me. I applied to become a Restorative Exercise instructor and here we are.

The Solution Is Sitting Less

If your daily sedentary percentage is higher than you imagined, it’s time to update your sitting habits. Squat into all your chairs, gradually lower your seat, eventually sit on the floor. Go slowly and see what happens! Being sedentary most of the time is not for our bodies or our minds.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Why do you or don’t you sit on the floor? What gets you up and out of your chair? What’s your assessment of your sitting situation?

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Bing 5 feet tall, chairs and sofas aren’t even comfortable for me. The floor is more comfortable! And doing yoga has me used to being on the floor. Letting the floor support me, as they say. I recommend yoga!!
Lauren Teton
founder of Twifties, the fun people centered around Birth Year 1956
MsTwifty on Instagram

Catherine S

Thanks for your comment, Lauren. Being shorter and closer to the ground is a great thing! 5’4″ here.

Alainnah Robertson

I can still rise from the floor without outside help as I do yoga twice a week and a weight program the other three days. This I do on rising in the morning. Now I’m going to practice actually sitting on the floor. I used to like doing that, but haven’t done it for years. Thanks for the reminder!

Catherine S

You’re welcome Alainnah! Floor sitting is one of the simplest, no-cost ways to improve your strength and mobility.

Valerie Greger

Thank you. Great advice. I love reading all of these articles

Catherine S

Thanks for your comment Valerie.


This is a great read! I sit every day on the floor when I start my morning exercises, so I combine it naturally into my workout routine. Since I’ve heard from my elderly mum’s physiotherapist that rising from the floor without any support is a sign of good health and longevity, I’ve committed to sitting on the floor and rising from it daily. And even on those busy days when the temptation to skimp on my morning workout. Thanks for sharing this detailed info.

Catherine S

Thanks for your comment Michela. I hope you enjoy more time floor sitting and also the health benefits as you get up and get down more often.

The Author

Catherine Stifter believes moving well has no age limit. Her Restorative Exercise programs help restore strength, mobility and balance at any stage of life. Join her online Aging Well Book Club, specifically designed for curious movers who want to learn together. Catherine can be contacted at

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