Part 2: Practical Wellness: Excercise & Movement
Put simply the human body was not designed to sit around all day! Up until very recently in our evolutionary history mankind has always had to move a lot throughout the day. Before we had cars and electricity a huge amount of daily chores such as getting around, fetching water or cooking are now almost fully automated or require minimal effort.
In the developed world most people now move a lot less than their ancestors. We drive or take the bus to work rather than walk, we take the lift rather than climb stairs and we simply turn on the tap to get water rather than carry filled buckets back from the well. Technological developments and changes in the nature of how we work also now means that few jobs are as physical in nature or require as much movement and exercise as they did in the past.
Sedentary lifestyles affect health and wellbeing
All this has led to a dramatic increase in sedentary lifestyles and workplaces and this is having a very negative impact on health and wellbeing. The World Health Organization (WHO)estimates that 60 to 85% of the population worldwide does not engage in enough activity and this makes physical activity the 4th biggest risk factor for mortality globally.
Sitting is the new smoking!
It was recently reported that inactivity is responsible for more annual deaths than smoking! Sedentary behaviour is consistently linked to more than 30 chronic diseases and conditions and globally a sedentary lifestyle is said to be responsible for:
- 10% of all colon cancers
- 10% of all breast cancer
- 7% of all type 2 diabetes
- 6% of all coronary heart disease cases
Are you sitting too much?
Sitting for long periods has a very negative effect on the body, even if you exercise. Ideally you shouldn’t longer than 2-3 hours per day but many people sit for at least 7-10 hours per day for work, travel, eating and relaxing some people sit 15 hours per day.
The good news is that if you do have a job or a commute that means you are sitting for long periods throughout the day you won’t have to quit your job to counter the negative effects from sitting. Instead you can focus on breaking up long periods of bum on chair time with short breaks and by engineering natural movement back into your day.
Getting up and moving around even for a few minutes every hour goes a long way to negating the harmful effects. Taking exercise such as going to the gym, running or swimming etc. is fantastic but you cannot rely on that alone if you have a sedentary job or need to sit for long periods.
Move throughout the day
The big take home for you in terms of your wellness is to try and spread movement throughout the day so you are never inactive for too long. Look for opportunities to build little pieces of movement into your day here and there such as taking the stairs at work, parking your car a 5 minute walk from your destination or standing up and moving every time you are having a telephone conversation. It all adds up and keeps your metabolism from getting too sluggish meaning you burn more calories and have more energy.
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