Most people have heard that exercise is healthy, that we need to go to the gym, go run, be active, etc. We have heard it from mass media, health coaches, and the medical community. Chances are that you have heard it often enough to where most people begin to tune it out.
However, when it comes to having a dramatic impact on our health, the emphasis on formal exercise may be one of the problems with our sedentary lifestyle.
A sedentary lifestyle
The question seems straightforward – who would qualify as ’more sedentary?’ Is it the person who never exercises at all or the person who exercises for one hour several times per week? When using conventional wisdom, most people would say that the first person is more sedentary and he or she will probably experience negative side effects because of it. However, this paints an incomplete picture. If we consider all the other factors, the answer may even be entirely wrong.
The primary reason behind it is that a sedentary lifestyle is based on how much time we spend sitting down rather than how much time we spend on formal exercise. If we spend the majority of our day sitting, even if we exercise regularly, it can negatively affect our health. In short, it is not possible to counteract an otherwise sedentary lifestyle with an hour of regular exercise.
Movement can determine your health and longevity
Studies show that spending a great deal of time just sitting down (either in your car or behind the computer) may be linked to issues such as heart health, insulin sensitivity, and reduced longevity. People who spend a great deal of time throughout the day sitting down are far more likely to experience health problems, and are likely to die younger.
In fact, a recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that amongst 123,216 different subjects, 7,923 women and 11,307 men had died. The researchers of the study found that the time that these people spent sitting (for both men and women) was directly linked to all-cause mortality. These figures held up even after the researches made additional adjustments for any other factor that might influence mortality.
Women who sat for more than six hours each day had a 37 percent greater risk of death than those women who only spent three hours each day sitting down. Men who sat down more than six hours each day had an 18 percent greater risk of death than those men who only spent three hours each day sitting down
These results were the same, even after the researchers made adjustments for leisure time physical activity levels. This meant that longer periods of sitting down were directly related to an increased risk of death even if people decide to engage in exercise in their free time.
Switching the focus
There is a reason that people in the health community are becoming increasingly focused on ‘moving more’ rather than ‘exercising more’. When people talk about being active, our cultural bias suggests that we mean making time for the gym and planning workouts. This concept needs to change in order to think along the lines of a lifestyle movement.
It was not too long ago that most people did not consciously have to be aware of moving more throughout their day to-day lives. We have switched to a lifestyle that is mostly spent sitting down rather than one that included plenty of movement. Activities that previously required movement now require much less of it (laundry, doing the dishes etc.) commuting for at least an hour every day is not uncommon, and desk work is far more common than it used to be.
How we are capable of incorporating more movement into our daily life will depend on our preferences and lifestyle, but it is possible to do so gradually with small changes over time. In this case, the small things really do add up and your health is going to thank you for it.
Putting it in perspective
To be clear, this is not to suggest that exercise is not useful. Whether it be yoga, weight training, running, or anything at all. This is a great way to shake things up and target specific fitness goals. It is also true that some people may have difficulty making an active lifestyle a reality. In those specific cases, it is important to understand that formal exercise (an hour in the gym here or there) is far better than doing nothing. It is important to work with the time available.
What if you are unable to be as active as you like? What if physical discomfort makes it difficult to move around or you feel as though there is more that you could do, but you are not quite sure where to start. If you find yourself in that situation, the professionals at Total Back Care are able to help. They are not only able to help alleviate physical discomfort, but can also help you find out where you could make changes in your life. Call 8357 8211 today to schedule an appointment.