Move It or Lose It

Want a drug-free, none invasive, health cure?

Move more.

And I’m not talking about running marathons or jumping on the P90X bandwagon.  Fidget, sweep the floor more often, shift your weight as you stand and talk to someone.

My grandparents have always been ahead of the curve for health trends so it was no surprise to me when they sent me this article from the New York Times Magazine. The article just reiterates a philosophy that they’ve both intrinsically known and practiced for years; never stop moving.

The article, What’s The Most Unhealthful Thing You Do Every Day, delves into research proving that the key to decreasing risk of disease, weight, and illness is to simply stay in motion.

Well, yeah, of course, what’s new about this information, right?

What’s new is that the research proved that structured exercise is not as important as all the small movements we do-or don’t do-throughout the day.   Sitting relatively still, like while at your computer or in front of the television, causes your metabolism to immediately nose dive into a calorie burn of about 1 per minute.  Even scarier, inactivity messes with your ability to break down harmful fats which in turn drops your levels of good cholesterol.

Half-way through the article I was still feeling pretty cocky; “but I exercise everyday so a few hours at the computer and a few hours of television watching won’t really hurt me”.  But no.

“Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym.  It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin.”  

Even more alarming, “each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day, the risk of dying rose by 11 percent.”  YIKES!

Sure, exercising regularly puts me ahead of the curve in lots of ways but this article reminded me that the small bursts of activity count as much as the big ones.

I am grateful that I only sit at a desk three days a week but even that feels like too much.  The ball has helped tremendously, I fidget more, stand up more, and even occasionally throw in a few crunches. 😉  At home I try to break up my sedentary time by taking frequent stand-up breaks and fit in more activity by using the upstairs bathroom or taking a few extra minutes to clean the kitchen.

The article describes a calorie burn chart that showed a huge spike when the participant reached down to tie his shoe, once again demonstrating that every movement counts.

I’m off to clean the office, answer the phone standing up, and bounce on my ball.