Everyone knows exercise is good for you…good for your waistline, your stress level, your muscular coordination, your creativity, and your mood. Yet most of us think about exercise as a chore we should suffer through for 30 minutes three times a week (or whatever your current new year’s resolution is), and so we wind up skipping it more often than not.
What if we could get the physical and mental benefits of exercise without having to change clothes or dedicate a block of time to misery? Recent research is suggesting that incorporating smaller movements into our daily routines – as opposed to doing one big, sweaty burst and sitting around the rest of the day – is actually the best approach to healthy living…and not just because it’s something that’s easier for 21st Century workers to do.
Consistency Beats Intensity
Joan Vernikos spent 30 years at NASA, conducting original research and studying the biological effects of space on astronauts. These effects include a dramatic loss of bone-density, loss of muscle-mass, slower reaction time, impaired balance and physical coordination, reduced stamina, reduced senses of taste and hearing, reduced sensitivity to insulin, less restful sleep, slower and less effective gut performance, delayed healing, and suppressed immune functioning – the same pattern of symptoms we typically associate with aging.
But Vernikos and her team discovered that astronauts could reverse their space-induced “aging” and regain their functioning just by consistently and intentionally interacting with the forces of gravity back on Earth. Resisting gravity with movement throughout the day, every day, turned out to be one of the best ways to stop aging in its tracks and turn back the clock for astronauts who’d spent time in space. Multiple studies now confirm Vernikos’ findings that consistent, lower-impact movements throughout the day are actually better for us than one big bout of intense exercise.
So don’t just sit there at your computer, your desk, your steering wheel and your television…unless you want to age faster and die sooner!
Let’s Get Moving
Verniko’s short book, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, describes her surprising findings in detail and offers a slew of advice on simple “exercises” you can do to stay sharp, active and vibrantly healthy.
Stand up every hour. Stretch or do some squats while you think about a knotty challenge.
Do stomach crunches as you sit in traffic. Hop on the treadmill while you read the news. Stand on one leg and do a bicep curl while you’re on the phone or reading a screen.
Park further away from your building. Take a 2-minute walk when you’re stuck on a project. Go for a post-dinner stroll with the family every night.
Do whatever it takes to keep yourself in motion, every day! The more you find little ways to keep your body moving as much as possible throughout the day, the better off you will be.