Your Take-Away Benefits from "Sitting Kills, Moving Heals"

by Joan Vernikos

Since the publication of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals in December 2012, people who have read the book or heard me speak, have been sharing their stories on how they have benefitted. This has been informative and very rewarding, as the reason I wrote Sitting Kills was to offer a different way to approach our lives and our health – one based far more on what is possible without relying so much on things outside ourselves.
Today I’ll share what you have said matters.

1. It raises awareness of how one’s lifestyle directly affects one’s health. And that this is up to each one of us.

“I had not realized that what I do and don’t do all day makes a difference to how I feel.”

When one becomes aware of how profoundly lifestyle habits have become more sedentary in the modern era, then people seem inspired to do something about it.  Today we are sitting uninterrupted at rates never before seen, so often slouched in a comfortable chair or looking at a computer or smartphone screen. Our reliance on pills to solve more minor complaints can be reversed. Even youngsters can benefit from greater awareness about what impacts their health.

No one else can move for you. You are the only one who can become aware of how you feel in order to better manage the conditions in your life and your response to them.

Some things you have said:
“I pay more attention to my eating and sleeping habits now.”
“I think of stretching instead of taking a pill.”
“The Health Assets Questionnaire was a useful start and guide to where I was health-wise.”

2. Increasing movement in small ways yields big results.

“I feel 20 years younger. I have walked every morning but was not aware how much I sat the rest of the day. Now I am doing something all day long and still enjoy my TV.”

The key here is that sitting (and indeed relaxing) is ok as long as it is interrupted often and with gravity-challenging activities, and that exercise alone likely will not do it. It seems that almost weekly there is more research showing how uninterrupted hours of sitting increases the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease even if you exercise regularly. Between TV and other media we are encouraged to sit many hours but we can reverse the impacts simply by getting moving.

If your mobility is constrained you can experience significant improvements just by briefly standing up every 20 minutes. Even if at first you cannot stand up at first you can regain your mobility in a few months. If you cannot get up at all there are many stretching and strengthening activities you can do. “I find that sitting on a straight-backed chair instead of a comfy chair has improved my posture and strengthens my core muscles.”

Some things you have said:
“Chuck sits in front of a computer screen all day long. He does not care to exercise because he has back pain but once he understood how this works, he can go along with the idea of standing up every so often and stretching.”

3.  Weight Loss

“I lost weight without dieting.”

No, really, and it isn’t complicated. Have you noticed that when you are generally more active that your weight stabilizes or goes down? The non-exercise activities I promote specifically target fat metabolism. Therefore the more one moves all day the more one will use fat stores for the energy needed to function. Couple this with good food choices and adequate sleep and you have a perfect storm for weight management.

4. Feeling More Energetic

 “Moving about with housework, gardening, cooking, all day makes me feel energized throughout the day in a way that exercising once a day did not!”

Maybe there isn’t a more important benefit than this one.

When you exercise once a day, you generate one large spurt of energy. You then cool down because you have over-stimulated your body and then often rest from the fatigue often brought on by this type of activity.  Your hunger may also increase, leading to your eating more. However if you can change your daily habits to include more non-exercise movements you will feel a kind of sustained energy, without some of the highs and lows associated with traditional exercise. By all means exercise, but do so in ways that allow you to  keep moving the rest of the day too.

“I get up at TV commercials and do something around the house.”
“I told my work-mates that I am ignoring internal e-mails. They can come and talk to me instead.”

 A very handy side-benefit here is More Free Time
“It doesn’t take more time or effort to remain active and healthy.”

We may not realize how much time exercising takes up – driving to the gym, prepping and showering after a run, and so on. As one reader has shared, “I realized that I can get the same or better benefit to my health and mobility in less time.”

5. Reduced Health Care Expenses

“I have extra money in my pocket because I feel better, sleep better and don’t think of the doctor first.”

It is likely that if you follow many of the suggestions in Sitting Kills you will experience a greater sense of health overall - benefiting from an improved immune system. As people being to feel better more of the time based on changes to their habits, the old reflex to pop a pill or call the doctor at the first twinge subsides. Who doesn’t want to save money today on health care? But it’s probably up to you as I don’t think we can expect insurers to give us a deal.

As one reader directly shared:
“I spend less money now on my health and drug costs.”

We hear often today that we are living longer than ever, which is true. But the big question is: are we living better? Trending data may paint a bleak picture on this front, but I am not deterred. In fact I am more confident now than ever that we each have a great deal of influence over the quality of our lives, both in the present and for future times. If we choose, each of us can take action to improve our health and overall quality of life. Starting right now.

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