walking heals

how living a sedentary lifestyle can jeopardize your health and what to do about it

Are you actively sedentary? You could be jeopardizing your health.

Walking heals and is the cure to a sedentary lifestyle. You don't even have to break a sweat! Just small, simple movements throughout your day can help you maintain lifelong health.

You’ve probably heard that it is important to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes a day for improved health and weight loss. What you may not know is that the amount we spend sitting each day; behind a desk at work, driving or watching TV, is just as important to our health.

This means that working out for one hour a day, and then sitting around the rest of the day isn’t going to cut it when it comes to your health. If you want to have the best chance for avoiding chronic health conditions, it is important to exercise and engage in non-sedentary activities throughout your day, researchers are learning.

In fact, research has shown that the amount of time we spend sitting has been linked to a higher risk of obesity and developing diabetes and a greater chance of dying earlier than those who spend less time being sedentary.

In her book, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, Joan Vernikos, Ph.D., discusses her research on Gravity Deprivation Syndrome during her time at NASA. Astronauts suffer from this syndrome during space travel, but we experience similar effects from long periods of sitting or lying down.

Vernikos found that a lifestyle of daily movement that resists the force of gravity, in addition to exercise, is the key to maintaining good health.

Researchers and fitness experts agree that walking heals because it can counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. It is easy to incorporate into your day, is low impact, easy on your joints and just plain easy to do.

“Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day," says Katy Bowman, author of Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement.

Walking heals - daily movements

Here are some ideas for adding more walking to your day. Notice that the intent here is to break up the sedentary lifestyle most of us live, not necessarily to get a good cardiovascular workout, as that should be a part of your exercise program.

  • Take a walk during your breaks at work
  • Walk your children to and from school
  • Walk on the weekends to run an errand instead of using your car
  • Park in the farthest area of a parking lot so that you have to walk farther to your destination
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
  • Stand up and walk in place during the commercials of your favorite TV shows
  • If you have to wait a few minutes before being seen by your doctor, dentist, hairstylist, etc., take a quick walk around the building

The biggest risk factor for heart disease for women over 30 is inactivity, even more so than smoking, high blood pressure or obesity, according to the University of Queensland.

In her book, Vernikos gives many other ideas for staying active throughout the day. The most important is simply to stand up from a sitting position several times a day (her research has shown that 16 times per day is the minimum number to maintain good blood pressure). Some of her suggestions include:

  • Stretching before you get out of bed
  • Standing up from a seated position without using your arms to help you up
  • Performing household chores
  • Dancing
  • Shopping

She offers many more ideas but you can see that the most important thing is to avoid sitting all day. Do you have to sit behind a desk all day for work? Think about how you can stand up from your desk once to twice per hour.

Walking is the perfect activity to engage in throughout your day to avoid the actively sedentary lifestyle. Truly, walking heals!

Additional articles used as reference:

1. ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise

2. Walking is the superfood of fitness, experts say

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