Did you just read the title of this column and say, “Ouch”? Good, because the future looks pretty grim for those who don’t move.
I wish the truth were otherwise, but most of us spend far too much of our lives sitting. Yes, the joy requires it, but what is all that sedentary time doing to our bodies, our minds and our families.
Let’s talk this over and then let me give you ways to empower your life and positive impact your healthy future.
Sitting for long periods and lying on that sofa are costly. New research shows that long periods of physical inactivity raise your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. In January 2010, British experts linked prolonged periods of sitting to a greater likelihood of developing diseases. Australian researchers reported that each hour spent watching TV is linked to an 18 percent increase in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The cause? Sitting down.
If you can remember or pretend it’s 1985 you just might be healthier. How so? Back in those days if you needed to get an answer from a colleague you walked down the hall and questioned the person or maybe headed to the file room for the answer. If you were at home or school, you would locate a book or trek to the library. While I refused to give up my wired live, this changes points out that something troubling. We’re moving less because information is easy to get and therefore more Americans are obese or fighting a losing battle with weight control.
Stand up and count on being healthier. Have you heard of or joined the movement to create standing work stations? I still haven’t decided if that’s right for me, however standing burns more calories than sitting. Plus one is more likely to move around when already standing. No matter where you work or go to school if you can, get up every hour and walk for five minutes. Here’s a trick I use: Every time I pick up the phone I stand up.
Power out. Make movement a priority. Work toward a goal of one hour of exercise every day. You needn’t go to the gym or fitness class to sweat it off; exercise can be pleasurable and fit into your schedule. Here’s the trick: Don’t have 60 minutes? Divide your hour into ten or even twenty minute segments. All that movement adds up.
Be sure your feet are happy and get the right shoes for your sport or activity. You’d never wear high heels to play tennis, or boots on a cruise, why do we think we can take a walk, such as at lunch hour, in our dress shoes. Don’t do it. Buy shoes that are right for your sport and you’ll be more comfortable and less likely to have a sports injury. Here’s the trick: Get sports socks that wick away moisture. They’re worth the extra money.
Enlist a friend who is concerned about the ravages of a sedentary lifestyle. I call this person an accountability fitness buddy. Talk with someone at work, school or in your home about supporting each other to lose weight or exercise. Here’s the trick: No one to walk with? How about the family dog or a neighbor’s pooch.
It’s hard, but be patient. Generally think of weight loss and exercise as a program to save your life, not a quick fix. Here’s the trick if you and your partner want to live a long, fit life: Make a pack to praise each other at least once a day about something to do with healthy living.
If you were your BFF, what encouragement would you offer? For the next six weeks as you make a commitment to move more, treat yourself like a special friend. If you’re not getting support at home or work, doesn’t it make sense to give it to yourself? Buy yourself some inexpensive treats—new music, a novel, a cup of coffee at that little café down the block, a bright red lipstick, a neon green baseball cap. Be silly and feel good. Here’s the trick: Keep a private journal of your feelings, woes, plateaus, successes and once a week, look back at where you’ve been and where you’re headed.
These tips and tricks are doable. So jump in and dream big. Why not make a list of “things to do in the next 24 months”? Be nutty, be decadent, and be brave. Here’s the trick: With the dream list, you’ll find that the more active, stronger, and more flexible person you’ll become will be able to accomplish these goals and then you’ll stay fit for life.