Studies are showing that Americans are becoming more sedentary - we are averaging 5,117 steps a day when we should be taking 10,000. When I was growing up, obesity was rare. On one hand I can name friends parents who were overweight. Between computers, smart devices and TV, we are moving less, gaining weight, and are experiencing an increase in weight-related ailments like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. From 1965 to 2009 people's sedentary time outside of work increased by 40 percent.
People can strive to exercise each day or even several days a week, but that is not enough. Those who sit for a living do not live as long as those who stand and move about. People who watch many hours of television experience a higher risk of death. That includes individuals who engage in seven hours of moderate to vigorous exercise a week. Marching during the commercials while viewing an hour and a half of television will add 2,000 steps to your day. (A sad commentary on how many commercials we are forced to watch!)
I remember a converstaion with a respectful athletic trainer before I presented to the athletes at U Mass Dartmouth. She said, "We were built to move - our bodies, joints and muscles function much better when we do." I was always athletic but as responsibilites pile on, it's not as easy to take time out to exercise.
So how do I keep moving? If people could see me at home they would think I am nuts! I am always making an effort to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. Squats are performed as I blow dry my hair and leg lifts while brushing my teeth or doing dishes. When I am working at my desk I force myself to stand and march in place every hour. I have an exercise ball and weights in my office and use a headset phone. While I am talking to people at different campuses I pick up the smaller weights to work on my arms. I also bounce on the exercise ball to work on my thighs. I never walk up or down the steps, I always run.
Recently I had an appointment on the tenth floor of a building in Philadelphia. When leaving the office I saw a long line of people who were waiting for the elevator. I decided to walk down the steps, arriving on the ground floor the same time they did. As a bonus, the large windows in the stairwell provided at fantastic view of the city. As a frequent flyer I stand or walk laps around the boarding area of the airport, knowing that I will be sitting for awhile. While sitting isometrics are performed, isolating and tightening various muscles to build tone.
Incorporating movement into your daily routine will raise your metabolism, helping to control weigh and provide muscle tone. It will elevate your mental acuity by increasing the blood flow back to the brain and help you to secrete more endorphins, thus elevating your mood. Who doesn't want to look and feel better?
Be creative in the ways you incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Perhaps it could be as simple as parking further back in a parking lot, or not using a drive up window. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Run up the stairs! Walk across campus instead of taking the inner campus transport. It was discovered that even washing dishes or kneading bread by hand is benefical. Many gadets were created to make our lives simpler but they are actually creating a sendentary life style and we are getting out of shape!
I recently met an 89 year old woman who was spry, radiant and as sharp as can be. Her secret? She never stops moving or working. This past year she volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and filled a whole dumpster by herself! So keep moving! Your body and mind will be much healthier! An ounce of prevention can go a long way.