For more than 25 years, I've watched, often horrified as the most tragic accidents play themselves out. Hardworking people unwittingly propel themselves into catastrophic physical events disguised as fitness.
Movement is more than a new buzzword, hashtag or a catchphrase. It is a matter of life or death. And while that may seem like hyperbole, the evidence is clear.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.5 to 5 million people die annually, simply because they weren't sufficiently physically active. More accurately, nearly 5 million people die yearly because they didn't know that physical inactivity would kill them.
The good news: No one else need die from physical inactivity. And furthermore, the solutions aren't necessarily found inside of the sometimes intimidating or confusing confines of the gym or from running the trails. Though, frequent movement practice can go a long way in helping many of us, not only improve our fitness, but also extend our health and wellbeing, and therefor our lives.
The primary life-taking culprit is the endless hours many of us routinely spend sitting. The WHO has issued a pandemic warning that physical inactivity is the 4th leading cause of death worldwide. The conditions of physical inactivity conjoined with mortality have laid the foundation for a predictive graveyard. As for many of the rest of us, the symptoms are myriad and often painful.
Researchers in Germany “found that sitting was associated with a 24 percent increased risk of colon cancer, a 32 percent increased risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21 percent increased risk of lung cancer.” They contradicted the public's conventional thought that exercise alone would be a magic bullet cure all, stating: “you cannot exercise away the habit’s harmful effects”
And contrary to another popular opinion, exercise, when otherwise coupled with each additional hour of uninterrupted sitting correlated to “14 percent increase in coronary artery calcification, whether or not the patient exercised or practiced other traditional heart disease preventive treatment”, according to Dr. Joan Vernikos, author of books, "Sitting Kills and "Designed to Move".
How many times have you heard the story of a middle aged lawyer who died while on vacation "even though he ran 5 miles every day"? Within 1 hour of uninterrupted sitting, there was a 50 percent reduction in artery dilation and drop in the rate of blood flow. The lawyer didn't stand a chance but could have reversed the trend with a 1 hour walk at a very pedestrian pace of 2 miles per hour. Exercise is great, but exercise alone is not a viable replacement for another 8 to 12 hours per day of sitting.
If you've tried losing weight and found it difficult, combine better exercise and nutrition habits with frequent bouts of standing and walking. Research has proven that sitting slows metabolism by reducing blood glucose below normal limits, thereby making us insulin resistant, preventing glucose from entering our muscle to be used effectively as fuel. Furthermore, our body becomes even more inefficient at converting fats into fuel.
Working out is great, but infinitely more effective when combined with more frequent non-exercise related activities. Just move it!