Several readers sent e-mails about the last post, asking about being able to sit on the floor. Many said they are so tight and weak that it is hard for them to get down, and not comfortable to sit comfortably and straight. Others wrote applauding that I am getting the message out that sitting comfortably on the floor is a normal ability, not strange or extreme.

First, don't be shy about posting replies and comments on this blog instead of e-mailing me privately. Next, sitting comfortably on the ground or floor is not an advanced athletic contortion. It is an entry-level physical ability that is crucial for normal physical function of your body.

If you don't have the stretch, strength, and balance to do this most basic of movements, you have severe weakness and tightness. It is not just people who don't exercise. I have seen aerobics instructors and personal trainers who cannot sit comfortably straight on the floor. Their hip is so tight from all the forward bending exercises they do that their hip rolls and rounds under them, which shifts their body weight to their discs and lower back. They may do artificial gym exercises, but cannot easily get down to the floor without using their hands because they have not trained movement that is useful to daily life, called functional exercise.

For a quick exercise to improve strength and balance, try this:

  1. Stand up.
  2. Easily and lightly, sit down on the floor without using your hands to get down.
  3. Sit by crossing your ankles and lowering into a cross-legged sit, or by squatting straight down, or lightly and softly kneeling on one knee then sitting. Experiment until you can do all three ways.
  4. Don't thump down hard on the floor. Use your leg muscles to lower softly with shock absorption.
  5. Sit straight without rounding your back forward or curling your hip under you.
  6. Stand up again without using your hands to get up.

Do this "sit and rise" exercise several times in a row. It is more useful and effective than doing little leg raises or presses in a gym. Don't be put off if you can't do this right away. Practice (safely) and you will quickly get stronger and more flexible, with better balance. When your strength improves so much from practicing sitting and rising from the floor that your body weight is not enough to give you exercise, sit and rise from the floor holding children or packages.

You can sit and rise from the floor ten times a day as an isolated exercise then spend the rest of your day sitting in a chair, but it makes more sense to sit and rise from the floor for real life. Sitting on the floor is not a strange or rare thing only done in poor villages far away. It is done in a great part of the world's countries, even in developed cities, and in our home. When you come to eat with us, you will sit at a low table on the floor by the fire. It's nice.

Sitting and rising from the floor is one of the many ways that much of the world gets built-in leg exercise and protects their hip joints from stiffening, arthritis, and bone loss. You will see grandparents easily lifting grandchildren, and other loads. They get bone-building strength, flexibility, and balance every day through their real life, and don't need to buy little machines or go to trainers to do ten little repetitions of an artificial movement. So can you.

Related Fitness Fixer:

  • Short movie of sitting on floor and rising without hands - Fast Fitness - Functional Agility, Flexibility, Strength
  • Fast Fitness - Contest: What Does It Take To Sit Upright?
  • Contest Winners - How Sit Up Straight
  • Back to School - Healthy Sitting
  • Does an Exercise Ball Make You Sit Straight?