Last week I wrote about the five keys to living a long, healthy life. Today I want to add two more elements…
1) Eat Clean, and
2) Move Every Day
Let’s focus on MOVEMENT.
Recently, I came across an article on Stephanie Rupert’s fantastic blog, Paleo for Women, titled “The One Big Reason You Should Walk, not Run, and Throw Out Your Chairs.” The gist of the article is that consistently MOVING throughout the day is imperative to good health.
Stephanie’s article was inspired by a January 2013 NBC news story featuring Dr. James Levine, who treats obesity at the Mayo Clinic.
“Sitting all day long is literally killing us,” claims Dr. Levine. Our metabolisms are analogous to fires that require stoking. Even an hour or two of hardcore cardio cannot “undo the damage done by sitting all day,” he says.
Dr. Levine goes on to say, “being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterwards or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin. It appears that what is critical and maybe even more important than going to the gym, is breaking up that sitting time.”
Here’s why sitting isn’t pretty:
- When you sit for long periods of time, the body’s metabolic “engines” go to sleep. The muscles stop moving, the heart rate slows, and the body’s calorie-burning rate plummets to about one calorie per minute (1/3 of what it would be if you were walking).
- Insulin effectiveness drops and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. According to one meta-analysis involving 18 studies and nearly 800,000 subjects, those who sat the most had a 2-fold higher risk of diabetes, a 2.5-fold higher risk of heart disease, a 90% higher risk of death from heart disease and a 50% higher risk of death from all causes when compared to those that sat the least.
- Fat and cholesterol levels rise. Studies have shown that sitting for too long shuts down the circulation of lipase, a fat absorbing enzyme.
- The more we sit at rest, the more our metabolisms slow. Our bodies burn fewer calories when at rest, and as they detect less of a need to burn calories, they sink further into metabolic sluggishness. This results not just in decreased metabolic rates, but also in lethargy/fatigue. Feeling tired right now? Stand up and watch my “shake off a funk” video!
- Back pain! I’m sure we’ve all experienced the back pain that is inherent with long sitting sessions. If you have a desk job, please watch my “chained to a desk” video.
Take home message: A once-daily sweat session isn’t enough!
So how can we add more movement into our days?
First, let me clarify… We should always SIT while we’re EATING. If you stand and eat, you are more likely to rush through your meal, develop heartburn or indigestion, and overeat.
But standing/walking/moving can be inserted throughout the day in other ways… For example, go ahead and PACE! Pace while talking on the phone, pace while brushing your teeth, do heel-raises while blow-drying your hair. Bonus: standing/walking/moving BURNS CALORIES! You will be stoking your metabolism AND burning calories in real-time.
- Try not to sit for longer than one hour. Take frequent movement breaks at work. If you’re really hardcore, be like lifestyle and nutrition expert Chris Kesser and construct a treadmill desk!
- Take every opportunity to walk… Park in the farthest parking space from the store. Take the stairs. Keep your water container in the kitchen rather than carrying your water bottle with you all day. Walk a lap around the office every hour. Walk the kids to the bus stop on the morning. Take a short stroll before or after dinner (with your kids!).
- Wear a pedometer so you can track the number of steps you take each day. Get your partner, your child, or a friend to wear a pedometer as well, and make a game out of it! Try to “beat” your partner’s steps — or mileage — each day.
- Speaking of involving others — friends, partners, and/or children — be sure to tell them WHY you are walking so much. Spread the word about the importance of consistent movement when it comes to long-term health and wellness, and model good behavior. I think of this as “leaving a legacy of health” (and I wrote about it here!).
One more thing to sweeten the deal when it comes to walking: Walking speed is one of the best correlates to longevity. This leads me to believe that if one walks regularly throughout her life, she will continue to walk at a decent speed as she ages rather than developing the “old person shuffle.”
Walk more, live longer… Sounds good to me.
Speaking of longevity, I’ve been sitting for too long writing this article. Time to go for a walk!
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