Exercise Alone Is Not Enough: by Daniel Thomas
If we go to the gym and work out an hour each day, but then sit at a desk the rest of the day, new research shows that the damage done by the extended periods of sitting cannot be prevented by that hour at the gym. Americans spend more than half their waking hours sitting,
watching television, driving or at a desk. But the human body was designed for perpetual motion.
Prolonged sitting has been called “the new smoking” by scientists, and for good reason. It increases the risk of premature death due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, obesity, and diabetes, not to mention anxiety and depression, as well as back, neck, and sciatica pain. Rather than going to a gym each day, important new research is showing that we should develop a movement-based lifestyle.
The healthiest, fittest and longest-living people on the planet have never been to a gym. Instead, they embrace a lifestyle that keeps their body in motion through the day. As depicted in the best-selling book The Blue Zones, author Dan Buettner traveled around the world and found pockets of people in geographically remote areas of the world that have been living extraordinarily long and healthy lives for centuries. Besides eating a mostly plant-based diet, not smoking and having a sense of belonging, there is a noticeable absence of a time set aside each day to exercise. Instead of sitting, their entire day is filled with the kind of activities that keep their bodies in motion.
Fossil records show that our prehistoric ancestors were fitter, stronger and had greater bone density than today’s Olympic athletes because their levels of movement were much higher than ours. Early man’s activities included hunting, foraging for food, constructing shelters and evading predators. We have become too sedentary as a species. While modern technology has certainly made our lives easier, it has also created new challenges for the human body. Our modern way of life denies us of the activities that kept our ancestors healthy. While going to the gym is okay, our whole approach to exercise needs to change.
For our bodies to function at a higher level, rather than work out a single set-time each day, a better solution is to schedule small amounts of exercise throughout the day. Starting at 8 a.m. and repeating every two hours, step away from the desk and perform a four-minute session of simple exercises that use your own body weight as resistance. Do this at 8 a.m. and repeat at 10 a.m, noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. This is the regimen:
- Squats for 60 seconds
- Push-ups for 30 seconds
- Pull-ups or towel curls for 30 seconds
- Bridges for 30 seconds
- Rows or bent-over lateral raises for 30 seconds
- Burpees for 60 seconds
At the end of each session, drink a tall glass of purified water. Also, strive to walk briskly outdoors for 30 to 45 minutes, three days per week. If we do all of this, we will likely see more positive changes in our health than if we worked out at the gym. Commit to it for six months and see.
Daniel Thomas, DO, is located in Mount Dora. For more information, call 352-729-0923 or visit HealthyAndStrong.com.