By Laura Pawlak, PhD, RD emeritus
Today, unlike any time in U.S. history, body fat is accumulating pointedly in the belly. In addition to calorie restriction, what practice is required to decrease belly fat? Move about.
Losing the unwanted pounds gained during the holidays is a struggle for everyone. Keeping it off is even more difficult. What’s the best way to maintain a lower weight, once achieved? Move about.
Scientist study the brain, searching for ways to keep it vital over the extra decades we now live. What is considered the most important lifestyle factor to retain cognition throughout life? Move about.
More Americans are diagnosed with depression and anxiety than anywhere else in the world. What habit can aid in balancing mood? Move about.
Researchers agree that the most important natural way to bring about good health is movement. During activity, muscles release anti-inflammatory proteins that act as a natural protection against disease. In spite of the proof that moving is as vital as sleep, food, or water, less than 25 percent of the nation exercises.
Perhaps part of the problem lies in the mistaken vision of exercise as fitness training, often too tough for most mortals. Boutique gyms continue to augment the difficulty of their programs to retain the hardiest of their hard-core members. While a few exercisers may enjoy the endorphin “high” produced by the physical demand of these classes, the average member is soon discouraged and disappears in about three months.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the typical worksite, where the employee exercise program might be limited to moving one’s fingers on a computer all day. Scientific evidence clearly shows that sitting for long periods of time heightens the risk of dementia, diabetes, depression, and, of course, obesity.
Now imagine that your workplace offers a program that can lift your mood and combat lethargy without reducing focus or attention — and even dull hunger and cravings. What’s the strategy? Stand up and walk for five minutes every hour during the workday. Whether you are hired, fired, or retired, this movement schedule is a healthy approach to limiting sedentary behavior every day.
Does a simple sit/walk program eliminate the need for strength training, stretching, and near-daily moderate exercise? No, but it’s wise to begin an active lifestyle with the easiest step. Devote five minutes of every sedentary hour to walking.