We’ve been told for years now that exercise is the key to a healthy and long life. 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, along with a few apples is enough to keep the doctor at bay. But is that really the truth? We seem to be in the middle of an obesity and sedentary epidemic, with cardiorespiratory diseases, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, sky rocketing. We also seem to be exercising more than ever as a nation, so what’s going wrong?
Telling someone that sits a lot, and lives a pretty sedentary lifestyle, that 30 mins of exercise a day is enough to keep us fit and healthy, is a little bit like congratulating someone who had a side salad for dinner, but ate junk food throughout the rest of the day. It’s just not enough. Exercise is a brilliant top-up, but the real magic is in ‘movement’. Movement is essentially everything else in life, that requires just that little bit of extra effort. It’s all of the walking, taking the stairs, stretching, gardening, being up and on our feet, fidgeting and everything else that isn’t in the gym.
It is these additional activities that start to mimic the lifestyles of our ancestors, who would move more frequently, and very rarely spent much time sitting down at all. We see these lifestyles continuing in the so-called ‘blue zones’, regions that have a higher than usual number of people who live much longer than average. When we look at what factors they have in common, amongst other things movement came out as a big factor. In these areas people aren’t running marathons or beating themselves up at Crossfit 5 days a week. Instead they have active jobs, move a lot, don’t sit for hours at a time and consequently live for yonks!
Now we can’t all be farmers or work in construction, nor do we all want to. But we can all build more movement into our days, alongside our exercise top up. Set alarms to remind you to get up and move from your desk at least once an hour. Take the stairs, not the lift. Get off the tube or bus a stop early and walk the rest of the way to work.
In short, stop sitting and get moving!