The Importance of Movement.
The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) states that inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of adults in the world. Let’s face it. Our bodies are made to move, not to sit for hours on end! Unfortunately though, between work, school, and commuting, the majority of us have to sit a good portion of our days. Although some professions require more movement, the large majority of us are simply not moving enough. As you read on, know that my goal is to give you way more reasons to get moving than to sit – sit – sit.
“Sitting is the new smoking” was coined by Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk! He sums up his views with this: “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” I think most health care practitioners agree wholeheartedly with Levine.1
As you will see, sitting can be a primary cause of cancer, heart disease, obesity, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, depression, mental decline, accelerated aging, loss of physical function and mortality. MOVEMENT, i.e. walking, and/or most any exercise can drastically turn around these “sitting too much-resulting illnesses.”
Deficiency in physical activity is also a major contributing factor to bone loss, low sex drive, poor sleep, poor digestion, low energy, decreased quality of life and an overall decreased lifespan.2 Please re-read that sentence. Could physical inactivity have a worse health effect than eating junk food and sweets? Looks like a close tie.
Many years ago I was experiencing a lot of brain fog. Some of it may have been a result of menopause, however, after I began walking 30-60 minutes a day I noticed a huge impact in my well being, my attitude and my ability to think and reason. I also noticed that my incessant knee pain disappeared too. To this day, I am almost fanatical about walking every day.
Dr. James L. Chestnut said it best. “Movement is like a windmill that generates electricity for your brain.”3 What a powerful endorsement for the importance of movement for our clear thinking!
The good news is that it doesn’t require a ton of movement to make a ton of improvement! Just walking 30 to 60 minutes a day can literally change your health, attitude, and future! To reach our full health potential we need to walk 60 minutes a day but not necessarily all at once.
How important is brain function to you?
Years ago, we thought that the adult brain did not grow. Wrong! Have you ever heard of “Miracle Grow for your Brain?” It really does exist! What is it? Exercise! This is how it works: Exercise supplies essential blood flow and oxygen levels that are necessary for brain health. Exercise also creates healthy blood flow to deliver important nutrients to your brain, so the result from physical activity is an increase in the delivery of both oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. This stimulates your brain neurons to release chemicals called brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) which not only keep your brain cells healthy, they also stimulate the birth of NEW brain cells! There is also great news that physical activity may be protective against many neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s dementia Parkinson’s and stroke! 4
Is avoiding cancer important to you?
Considering that one out of every three of us can expect a cancer diagnosis in our lifetime5 we should ALL remember that a detectable cancer mass discovered today began growing in the body 5 to 10 years ago. We can’t go back in time, but we sure can focus on today. What we do TODAY seriously affects our future health.
Physical inactivity is associated with significantly increased risk of pancreatic cancer, and melanoma and more.
Let me encourage you with some good news:
A World Cancer Research Fund statement said that its scientists estimated about 4,600 bowel cancer cases and 5,000 breast cancer cases could be prevented in the UK if people were more active, such as by walking.6
Women with a family history of breast cancer reduced their risk by 25% by doing 20 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity at least 5 times a week, along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle in other ways.7 What if the women did more than just 20 minutes?
“A 50% reduction in the incidence of colon cancer was observed among those with the highest level of physical activity across numerous studies. Do you realize this means that 50,000 cases and 24,000 deaths from colon cancer could have been prevented in the US every year by just simply increasing levels of physical activity?8 …like WALKING?
Many studies share the same encouraging information regarding reducing the risk of all types of cancers through movement.
Are you concerned about coronary heart disease?
Considering it is still the #1 cause of death in the U.S. unless cancer has just recently eclipsed it, we should all be concerned. Here’s the good news: 2.5 hours of brisk walking per week prevented coronary heart disease and stroke by 30 percent!9
The Mayo Clinic encourages regular daily physical activity to lower your risk of heart disease.
Does depression concern you?
We often avoid this topic but it is more important to discuss today than ever before… In the U.S., seasonal depression affects 5% of the population annually and postpartum depression affects 80% of new mothers. There are various types of depression which can eventually lead to suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.10 The world’s leading cause of disability is depression according to the World Health Organization.
The good news is that something as simple and affordable as walking can turn around depression! What if just walking 30-60 minutes a day massively reduced this? It does! More than one recent study shows that those who exercise are less anxious, less depressed, less neurotic and more socially outgoing!11 Frontiers in Pharmacology 2017 found randomized controlled trials comparing four months of exercise to the use of antidepressants. All of the trials found that exercise and antidepressant treatment were equally effective!
I love the study called SMILE (Standard Medical Intervention and Long-term Exercise) where James Blumenthal and his colleagues compared exercise to Zoloft (antidepressant). The exercise group walked or jogged (supervised) at 70 to 80% of their aerobic capacity for just 30 minutes just three times a week. The results were conclusive that exercise was just as effective as the antidepressant medication!12 WOW! What a great trade-off!
OK, I have to excuse myself for a few minutes while I get up from sitting and take a brisk walk! – see you in about 30 –
Do you have blood sugar concerns? Diabetes issues?
Walking regularly can help improve your body’s response to insulin, which, by the way, can help reduce belly fat!
An article published in Diabetologia examined the results of 18 studies with nearly 800,000 participants and determined that those who sat the most were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as the individuals who sat the least.13
Another study found that, compared to inactive individuals, adults with Type 2 diabetes who walked at least two hours per week had a 39% lower risk of death and a 34% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Walking for three to four hours each week had the greatest effect, lowering all-cause mortality by 64%.14
What about your weight?
Let’s face the facts. What we put in our mouth has much more effect on our weight, compared to our physical activity, unless you are doing marathons weekly. But Dr. Chestnut points out that the biggest impact of exercise on energy expenditure is its effect on your resting / basal metabolic rate. Simply, physically fit people burn more calories at rest than unfit people. A benefit of walking 30-60 minutes a day consistently is that your basal rate is likely going to increase! You’ll be burning more calories all day every day and night as a result of your consistent physical activity! Plus, as you read above, consistent walking can help improve your body’s response to insulin, which can help reduce belly fat!
What’s your predicted death date?
I asked this of a small audience at one of my seminars. I was amazed that a vibrant, healthy and fit young man in his late twenties immediately wrote down 52. I asked him why that date? He was SO certain. He replied that was the age when his father died and that was the age when his grandfather died, both of heart attacks. He said it was “in his genes.” When I explained EPIGENETICS to him, the science that has conclusively proven that we each either turn on or off those genetic switches that give us dispositions to health outcomes by the choices we make every day, by our lifestyle choices, he was shocked and empowered! We are not at the mercy of our genetic predispositions!
So please know that the majority of those genetic switches can work FOR us, not against us, by deciding and committing to daily movement, daily good food choices, clean water, and a good attitude. We have much more control than previously thought years ago!
What are Harvard’s top five exercises?15
#3 – You might be surprised at Harvard’s top Third exercise … Kegel Exercises! Wow, that one surprised me! We’ll talk more about that in another article.
#4 Strength Training
#5 Tai Chi
Your personal choice of HOW you want to move each day is up to you. Simply walking is a great place to start and to continue, but choose whatever gets your juices flowing & be consistent. The consistency piece is the secret sauce.
Walking just 30 – 60 minutes a day promises to give you more energy, reduce stress and enhance your mood! Aside from that, walking just 30 – 60 minutes a day helps your body detoxify, reduces your risk of cancers, reduces your risk of Alzheimers and dementia and greatly reduces your risks of depression. You’re going to FEEL BETTER!
Want to jazz it up a bit? Try “Interval Walking.” (provided your MD approves). Warm-up for about five minutes. Then begin your first interval, which is a short 30-second interval of a burst of longer strides and faster pace. Then return to your moderate walking pace for 2 minutes. Repeat several sets and increase the number of sets as you feel comfortable. Increase your intervals to 1-minute bursts and keep your moderate pace for 2 minutes in between. Mix it up for fun! Add in jumping jacks, skipping, and long stride walking. You’ll definitely get your heart rate up and burn more calories!
Ready to lace up your tennis shoes and start walking?
Are you going to commit to a daily routine? It’s all about figuring out how to get the movement into your daily life, creating a new habit. A friend of mine who is doing excellent with her lifestyle habits (diet and movement), shared this insight with me from James Clear’s Atomic Habits which she attributes to helping her stick to her new healthy habits. “Missing once is an accident. Missing twice is the start of a new habit.” Wow. That resonated with me. How about you? James Clear goes on to say: “But when successful people fail, they rebound quickly. The breaking of a habit doesn’t matter if the reclaiming of it is fast.” So let’s get going on our new daily movement habit and let’s be consistent with it!
YES! Let’s do it!
- Dr. James L. Chestnut. Live Right for Your Species Type (Victoria B.C. Canada: TWP Press 2017) pg261
- Dr. James L. Chestnut. Live Right for Your Species Type (Victoria B.C. Canada: TWP Press 2017) pg266
- Patoine, Brenda. Move Your Feet Grow New Neurons? Exercise-Induced Neurogenesis Shown in Humans. The Dana Foundation – Brainwork May 2007
- Blumenthal JA, Babyak MA, Moore KA, Craighead WE, Herman S, Khatri P, et al. Effects of exercise training on older patients with major depression. Arch Intern Med. 1999;159(19):2349–56. [PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10547175] [Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?journal=Arch+Intern+Med&title=Effects+of+exercise+training+on+older+patients+with+major+depression&author=JA+Blumenthal&author=MA+Babyak&author=KA+Moore&author=WE+Craighead&author=S+Herman&volume=159&issue=19&publication_year=1999&pages=2349-56&pmid=10547175&]