Ditch your chair and get moving

I want to challenge you to move. As much as possible. Every day. Why?

Did you know that in a famous study of the London employees of those eye-catching red double-decker buses, the workers who sat driving the bus versus the workers who stood as conductors, had a significantly higher mortality rate? After controlling for obvious demographic factors, still, the employees who merely stood for more hours of the day versus those who sat for most of the day lived much longer. This frightening conclusion kind of makes you want to immediately get up and read the rest of this article while standing, am I right?

Thing is: this study does not stand (#punny) in isolation.

{Image via zhealtheducation.com}

{Image via zhealtheducation.com}

Whether it is merely standing versus sitting, or purely the amount of steps taken per day, these simplistic measures of physical activity are often the most indicative of someone’s life span. So how could this be? And how it could be that studies even found that diligently working out for a half or, or an hour, and still sitting for the majority of the 24 hours in each day was not enough to counter the effects of this stillness and lack of movement? Let’s explore what makes movement so important to keeping us fresh and fly for a lifetime.

Movement is essentially the key to life. That sounds a bit melodramatic, I know, but it’s the truth. To avoid putting you to sleep as a result of a deep-winded neuroscience lesson, I will simply say this: the brain requires movement to function and if we sit all day, none – or very few – of our joints are being used. Thus letting our brains decay. No thank you. In fact, we don’t even need a brain if we don’t move. There is an infamous sea slug that is often cited because its only role in life is to find something stationary to attach itself to in the sea and once it finds its little spot, it settles right in, attaches itself, and then proceeds to eat its brain. Yup, that’s right. Once it no longer needs to move, it renders its brain useless, and eats it instead. That’s how important movement is to the brain. Please promise me this – do me a favor and move before you decide to make a rash decision like this sea slug….

Any movement, whether isometric (simply standing, using more joints to hold you in place), or eccentric (moving, contracting your muscles and using your joints), stimulates your brain by sending signals back and forth between your neural pathways. The short and sweet version: sitting = a lazy, sad brain; standing, walking, moving, stretching, etc. = an active and happy brain. And you guessed it, active and happy brains = healthy brains = less disease = longer life span.

So how can you add more movement into your daily lives? Here are a couple suggestions, from a personal trainer herself:

  1. Set an alarm every hour to get up and simply move a couple of joints in your body. Get those joints moving. Try simply making circles with your ankles and your wrists. Or try making a circle with your back, bending to one side and rolling forward and all the way to the other side. Go for some shoulder circles, in all different directions (arms up, arms back and behind you, arms down, arms in front of you, making nice controlled circles). Believe it or not, these simple actions keep your joints mobile and happy, which keeps your muscles strong and supple, all the while keeping your brain active and stimulated.
  2. Walk as much as possible. Park further away. Take the stairs. It seems like this wouldn’t do anything, but it might honestly add a few years to your life – and who doesn’t want to burn some extra calories? Walk to the shops, walk to the bar, walk to dinner. Walk, walk, walk. It’s good for ya!
  3. Stand or walk while taking phone calls. A lot of jobs require us to be on the phone for significant amounts of time. Or maybe your mom is the type to call you every couple of hours? Try simply standing while talking, or taking a walk as you talk. It all adds up!

I know the idea that moving as much as possible isn’t probably news to you. But it might be news to you that this is quite literally necessary for your brain to function properly.

So ditch your chairs (or your couch), get up and get moving!



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  • […] or to check out the snack area, if there is one.  Turns out, there might be a reason for this.  Studies show that simply engaging in weight bearing activity helps activate our brains and keeps us […]

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