There was once a time when doctors prescribed smoking as a means of relaxation. But what if there was something that we are doing right now that is potentially just as damaging to our health as smoking cigarettes? Is sitting the new smoking?
My mum confessed to me recently something that I think happens a lot in living rooms around the country – she did a little on the spot jog in her living room one night to get to 10,000 steps for the day. After laughing and ridiculing her for a while, I gave credit where credit is due, she remained committed to her goal of moving more in her day.
Our bodies are designed to move, but modern lifestyle sees us sitting for sometimes 10 hours a day. Studies at Michigan State University in the United States of America show that it’s not just about fitness, people sitting for long periods of time are more at risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and a variety of cancers.
They report that sitting for 6 hours or more increases risk of death by 40% even if you exercise regularly. If you reduce that number to 3 hours you also reduce those risks. Sitting expends almost no energy and puts your body into shutdown and fat storage mode.
So in the same way that quitting smoking immediately begins the repair work done by cigarette smoke, making changes to your daily physical activity can make a difference to your personal health.
We also know that moving releases endorphins and chemicals that not only increase our mood but also help us to moderate our weight, have more energy and increase productivity.
I don’t have a personal activity tracker for a few different reasons (email me and ask me about them if you are interested) but they absolutely help to draw our attention to movement in our day. Whether you are tracking your exercise or not, when you increase your daily movement you will notice a benefit to your overall health and wellbeing.
Sometimes when life gets really busy we drop exercise from our ‘to do’ list because we don’t have time. Or rather than walking to or from school we drive because we are rushing to the next commitment in our over committed lives. Ironically exercise should be the thing that we keep in those times, in fact, it’s during times of stress that exercise can be the most beneficial to us. My husband’s work times have changed in the last few months so I’ve lost my opportunity to walk in the mornings, before everyone is up and the rush of the day begins. But I have struggled to find another time in my day to fit in exercise. So both the dog and I have missed out and if I am really honest, so have my children because my patience is lower and my stress is higher and I am therefore more cranky.
So I’m going to commit to you all to make time in my day for my exercise. I’d love it if you would make that commitment for yourself too. So I’m off now for a walk and I’ll just have to hang that load of washing out when I get back.