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What You Won’t Learn at the Gym

By Susan Silver, HFS

There are lots of misconceptions about how much physical activity we are “supposed” to get and what it means if we get less than the news media says we should.

For example, many people think, “If I don’t exercise every day – or most days of the week – there’s no point in doing anything because it won’t be worthwhile.”

Stroll your way to better health

In fact, there are lots of benefits from moving around in ways that you might not consider to be adequate “exercise” – especially these days, when so many of us are bound to a computer and chair.  The fact is, many folks will benefit simply from getting out of their chairs a few times a day.  If you live in the D.C. metro area, you may have seen this related article in the Washington Post.  Wherever you are, you may also be interested in this NPR report offering additional insight to the value of short bouts of movement.

Good news for those who WERE sitting …

The more sedentary you have been, the more you will benefit from moving in any amount.

For example, taking a couple of 10 minute walks each day may:

  • Lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Improve your mood
  • Boost your energy and attention span
  • Lengthen your life

DON’T stop fidgeting!

There are also proven strategies for those with injuries or conditions that warrant staying seated. There is evidence that even fidgeting in your chair can lower your risk of illness compared with sitting completely still for extended periods of time.  For a long list of scientific references on this topic, take a look at this New York Times article, “Stand Up While You Read This!”.

Of course there are also certain moves that seated folks can learn from movement professionals that will improve overall health and feelings of well-being without a huge time commitment.

Finally, the truth about movement

Recently the American College of Sports Medicine published a Position Stand saying that many people – especially those who have been sedentary – can benefit significantly from HALF of what the authorities have been recommending.

So next time you have an idea to do something you enjoy that gets you away from your desk or the television, just do it!   And enjoy it even more knowing you ARE improving your health at the same time.