The Missing Piece of Health and Fitness
It’s the start of the year and many people are taking their health into their own hands and trying to lose body fat and improve their fitness levels. This is fantastic because they are generally adding exercise sessions to their week and eating much healthier. However, they may still be missing one crucial lifestyle piece, non-exercise physical activity. Even if you add an hour of daily exercise, if you sit while you work, and most of the time while you are at home, you are still largely classified as a sedentary individual. In addition to exercise and a healthy diet, we want to be certain that we are minimizing the time the time we spent being sedentary and increase the amount of time we are active, whether that is walking, standing, or any other active easy task.
Imagine this daily schedule. Does it sound a lot like yours?
7:00am - 8:00am Wake up and eat breakfast.
8:00am - 9:00am Workout on a stationary bike.
10:00am - 7:00pm Commute and work. Return home
7:00pm - 10:00pm Dinner, watch TV.
This is a typical day for many people and most would even consider it a healthy one. After all, there is a whole hour of exercise in the morning! However, if you look closely most of the day was spent seated. Even the exercise was done in a seated position on the bike. You may be wondering, why is all this sitting so bad and what is it doing to me? Read on.
In the last few years, a tremendous amount of research has come out showing how much of a negative effect sitting has on our health. Sitting has been shown to raise blood pressure, elevate cholesterol, cause insulin-resistance, increase risk for breast, colon, and endometrial cancers, weakened abdominals, tight hips, weakened gluts, poor leg circulation, weakened bones, disk damage, stiff spine, strained neck, shoulder pain, foggy brain, and increased mortality risk. Most of us would want to do anything possible to avoid these negative health outcomes. How do we do it? Read below.
The simplest and most effective method to combat being sedentary is adding more walking and standing into your day. During your lunch break at work, try to get outside a take a short 10-15 minute walk. Take your family, friends, and pets outside for regular daily walks. This will double as a healthy activity because you also get exposure to nature, which is shown to decrease blood pressure and elevate mood. Do you spend a lot of time seated at work? Try setting a timer for every 45 minutes to remind you to stand up, walk around, have a drink of water and rest your eyes. And if you need any more influence to get active, you could purchase a pedometer like a FitBit or Jawbone. These excellent tools track your steps, activity levels, and even your sleeping habits. They are a great way to track the values that really matter in your own health and act upon them.
Walking is known to be very healthy, but what exactly can we expect to happen when we take all these steps every day? When you take 4,000-5,000 steps a day, there are improvements in mental health and a decrease in depression. At 7,000-8,000 steps a day, there is an improvement in aortic arteriosclerosis, osteoporosis, physical fitness, and muscle wasting. At 8,000-10,000 steps a day, there is an improvement in elevated blood pressure and blood glucose. Walking also influences your body to utilize body fat, improves circulation, and enhances cognitive function.
Make sure that in conjunction with intelligent exercise, a healthy diet, you are adding in plenty of easy-low level activity to reduce being sedentary. This is often the missing piece in a healthy lifestyle and is just as important as exercise and diet. Without it, it can hard to be active enough to make changes in health and fitness. So be sure to add some walking in to your life and reap all the amazing benefits!