Can you remember a sunny day when you were a child? I bet you could not wait to get outside – running, climbing, balancing with your friends, even when it was raining.
Unfortunately, with entering our school system, most children lose a lot of their natural mobility. Besides all the wonderful new skills they are taught, they have to sit for several hours, followed by sitting while learning at home, later in University and possibly at the office. Not to mention TV, Gaming…
Did you ever hear the expression “sitting is the new smoking”? Recently multiple studies have been published, which document the impact of prolonged sitting on your health. Your metabolism slows down, blood sugar and blood pressure are rising as well as cholesterol levels. Your immune system takes a downturn. According to the analysis of 13 studies on the effects of prolonged sitting by the Mayo Clinic, participants who sit for more than 8 hours a day, have the same risk of dying as people who are smoking or suffer from obesity. So, what can you do? Quit your job, stop learning? No way!
The same analysis concluded that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day can counter the effects of too much sitting, even better if regular physical activity is incorporated into the daily routine. For people who are mostly sitting this could be:
· Commute by bike or on foot (remember our grand parents saying “There is no bad weather but only improper clothing”)
· Go for a walk when meeting colleagues (especially in Covid-19 times)
· Invest in a standing desk or improvise with your laptop on top of a box on the table
· Stand-up and walk around when making a phone call
· Try to stand up every 30 minutes
· Go for a brisk walk in the morning or evening
· Try some new fun sports online, like Zumba
· When watching TV use the advertising breaks for standing or stretching
Get a pedometer to count your steps or invest in a fitness tracker. You will be amazed how few steps we get when we are not making room for movement. How many steps are the right goal? The default of most fitness trackers is 10.000 steps a day originally stemming from a Japanese company which produced one of the first fitness trackers in 1965 called “Manpo-kei” which translates to 10.000 steps meter. Recent studies showed that the decrease in mortality rate plateaus at 7500 steps in the elderly, whilst 10.000 steps seems to be a great goal for adults.
Implementing these changes in your everyday life is not only beneficial for your body but also for your mind and spirit. Several studies about the use of standing desks in schools revealed that the participating students were able to focus longer, were less distracted, and even improved their grades overall compared to their sitting peers.
People suffering from depression who exercised for 30 to 60 minutes a day, 3 to 5 times a week experienced a significant improvement of their mood, (rated on the well-established Hamilton Rating Scale).
Early morning exercise can help with low blood pressure and low thyroid function as it boosts your metabolism. It gets things moving when you are constipated.
Regular exercise lowers your blood sugar and blood pressure, helping you to maintain a healthy weight. It greatly reduces menopausal symptoms and eases the transition from perimenopause to menopause. Exercise not only keeps our muscles strong but also our brains. It strengthens our immune system and our resilience towards what life throws at us…
Exercise is also a great stress reliever, as it can reduce our cortisol level required for a good night’s sleep. It balances our mood as it triggers the release of tryptophan, an amino acid which is the precursor for Serotonin, our happy neurotransmitter.
If you are approaching your golden years exercise is even more important. It not only keeps your body in shape but can also prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and other neuro-degenerative diseases. According to the Alzheimer’s society regular exercise reduces your risk of developing dementia by 30% and for Alzheimer’s disease by 45%. You might have heard the expression “Move it or lose it”… when we age this is exactly what’s happening, with our body, our brain, our spirit and by the way as well with our biggest muscle, our heart… It doesn’t matter what you do as an exercise, may it be walking, swimming, dancing or biking - just do it…
Ideally your exercise program should partially consist of endurance, cardio, balance, stretching and strength training. May be that is why dancing, be it Zumba or Tango, is so highly recommended. It combines all of the above and on top it keeps your brain working, when you memorize all those steps and coordinate your arms and legs…
You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym for that. There are plenty of great videos or online classes on the market – for instance try out Zumba toning, a strength training where you build up muscles while dancing. I personally prefer Julieta Tabares’ Zumba classes, which you can find via www.zumbacan.ca
But there can also be too much exercise. If you permanently ignore your body’s limits and needs for rest to reach that fat loss or fitness goal, you might hurt yourself substantially. Overtraining puts a lot of stress on your body which can lead to abnormal high cortisol levels making it impossible to lose weight or find proper sleep. Finally, this can lead to injuries, a breakdown or chronic fatigue. Overtraining can also take a toll on your immune system leaving you more vulnerable for invaders of all kinds. If you are too stressed out it is most often better to go for a walk in the park rather than for that spinning class.
The Japanese culture of ‘Forest Bathing’ (Shinrin-Yoku, which means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses) is not a hoax – in several studies it has been proven that ‘Forest Bathing’ significantly increases the amounts of natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell which is important for immune function and linked to a lower risk of cancer. Research suggests that small aromatic compounds, so called phytoncides which we inhale are held responsible for this. Additionally, ‘Forest Bathing’ can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Considering that Canadians spend on average about 93% of their time indoors there is room for improvement! ‘Forest Bathing’ is not only about walking in the woods but about our senses, the scent of a forest, the sunlight playing in the leaves, the sound of the wind… try it next time when you go for a walk, pause for a moment - you will be surprised…
If you would like to further explore and learn how to achieve your very own balance in life, let me accompany you on that journey to your well-being.
Please feel free to give me a call at 905-580-9946 or check-out my website www.4yourhealthonly.com
I will be there for you,
The information on this page is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health care professional. This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any diseases. Always consult with your primary care physician or licensed healthcare provider for all diagnosis and treatment of any diseases or conditions, for medications or medical advice as well as before changing your health care regimen.