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DON’T EXERCISE – Research supported!

man looking down cliffThe ‘Don’t Exercise’ blog has brought up several questions, multiple comments, and even emails questioning it’s validity.  From ‘Do you really believe this?’ to ‘That’s great news!’, from ‘What *should* I do?’ to ‘That’s a relief!’

Nearly all of the people who question the truth of ‘Don’t Exercise’ have one thing in common – they just read the blog title and didn’t read the content of the article.  The title is such a controversy and caused such a fuss that lots of readers unsubscribed from the newsletter, even a chiropractor!

A little while ago, another well known doctor and posture specialist, wrote a note disagreeing with my article about ‘The New Sit’.  Guess what?  He hadn’t read the content either, he just saw the image and figured I had bought in.  It turns out, we actually agree that the New Sit is NOT beneficial.

Where do you stand?   

Having read the title, ‘Don’t Exercise’, would you agree with the statement, or disagree?  Are you someone with an opinion and time to write an inquiry?  Are you someone who looks at the evidence or takes time to read up on the subject?  If you read a subject line that says ‘Don’t Exercise’ wouldn’t you want to know what in the world it was about?

I’m writing about it because it’s in the news and it’s not easy to read everything there is to know about sitting or exercise or health – this is your opportunity to get the low down on what the issues are and decide what to do for yourself.

I’m going to come completely clean here – research has found that SOME exercise is better than NO exercise.

This statement is a lot like saying some eating is better than no eating.  Or some water consumption is better than drinking no water.  If you read the following statement, would you understand what it means?

    ‘Cessation of pulmonary respiration is linked to higher mortality rates.’

Yep, I know that.  You know that.  I think everybody knows that.  Maybe not though.  If you don’t know it’s meaning, don’t sweat it.  There are professionals in the field to help translate the science-ese.  Here it is again:  ‘If you stop breathing, you die.’    

What’s the point, you ask?  It’s about understanding what the research has found about EXERCISE and HEALTH.

The American College of Sports Medicine says that the evidence in support of the beneficial effects from performing exercise outweighs potential risks against exercising (eg cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, joint damage, muscle tears, etc) in most adults.  This is a fact considered indisputable because exercise has been shown to support the following list of changes in sedentary individuals:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves lipoprotein profiles
  • Enhances insulin sensitivity
  • Manages body weight
  • Preserves bone mass in elderly
  • Reduces the risk of falling in aging populations

These are all good changes for people who spend most of their time SITTING.  By today’s standards, most people don’t consider themselves chronic sitters. 

However, Sitting is the new Smoking, remember?  Sitting is a health hazard.  A study from 2012, linked inactivity to over 5 million deaths worldwide every year, which is more than the deaths caused by smoking.  The new study by the Annals of Internal Medicine, found sedentary lifestyles increase the chances of developing conditions that contribute directly to dying prematurely, even for those who do the minimum recommended exercise. 

TVThe average American adult sits 9.3 hours per day not including commute times or meal times.  In addition, most people watch 3-4 hours of TV each day.  Potentially, you could be a 12 hour sitter, Monday through Friday.

Here again is the list of what may develop in the future (or you may have one or more already) that makes sitting such a hazard.  Sitters are still likely to face:

  • Higher risk of developing depression
  • Greater risk of developing cancer – colon, endometrial, and lung
  • Greater risk of developing heart disease
  • Increases the risk of obesity
  • Increases the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
  • Susceptibility to muscular issues (immobility)
  • Interference of LPL, lipoproteinlipase (fat breakdown for fuel)

As a reminder, this is the same list of problems for both categories of people:  Sitters who Do Exercise as well as Sitters who Don’t Exercise.

EXERCISE in and of itself is not the solution, therefore, Don’t Exercise!  If you only have so much time in a week, why bother stressing about getting in exercise if it doesn’t positively impact your Sitting health anyway?

The takeaway:  Time to make a Plan about your Sitting Habit. 

As a non-exerciser, add the minimum weekly recommendation – 2.5 hours of moderately intense aerobics, OR 1.25 hours of vigorous activity, OR combinations of both types.  This does not include muscle building activity two times weekly.

What will you do?  How will you do it?  When and How often should you do it?

If you don’t know, I can help with creating that plan – it’s my specialty.  Contact me at dawn@bodywisebodywork.com.

As a current exerciser, here is a very important reality check:  The minimum recommendations of exercise do not counteract diminished health from prolonged sitting.

Let me prove it to you with this simple test!  Stretch your calves for 30-60 seconds each side – I recommend a piece half-foam for consistency and portability.  Sit for the average amount of time you spend in that position.  For me, it’s about 70-90 minutes at a time.  Re-check your calves by stretching them again.  Hopefully, you’re convinced… Please send me feedback on what you experienced!  Calf_stretch

Here’s another reality check:  The body you take exercising, is the same body you use for sitting.  If you do more sitting than exercising, you strengthen ‘sitting’ body patterns.  The test is the same!  If your calves stretch-ability changes while you’re sitting, that’s the movement availability in your calves during exercise.

What will you do to transform to a non-sitting body pattern?  How will you do it?  When and How often should integrate the tools?

If you don’t know, I can help with creating that plan, too – it’s exactly my specialty.  Contact me at dawn@bodywisebodywork.com.

Til then, Happy Sitting!

Sitting is Smoking and DON’T Exercise

CigarettesI’m sure you’ve heard that sitting is the new smoking.  Smokers were such a common sight at one point, even depicted in the movie industry!  After decades of the habit, we began seeing the downside of built up ash in our respiratory tissues.

 

The advertisements about why smoking got the thumbs down were shocking – if it wasn’t pictures of the black lungs and throat cancer, it was the sounds of emphysema.

Today, the health statistics are even more staggering.  When one reads from Medical News Today that a single cigarette reduces a persons life by 11 minutes or a typical smoker has a life expectancy of 25 years less than the life of their non-puffing peers, it is cause to sit up and take notice.  Why didn’t we know this BEFORE all the bad news, before our aunts, uncles, cousins (or ourselves) were already victims suffering?

The phrase, sitting is the new smoking, should scare us.  But what does sitting have, if anything, to do with smoking?  They’ve finally linked it to specific health hazards that also shorten your life span, and shorten it quite significantly.

The hazards list:

  • Higher risk of developing depression
  • Greater risk of developing cancer – colon, endometrial, and lung
  • Greater risk of developing heart disease
  • Increases the risk of obesity
  • Increases the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
  • Susceptible to muscular issues (immobility)
  • Interferes with LPL, lipoproteinlipase (fat breakdown for fuel)

young businessman at office desk working on computer laptop asking for help holding cardboard sign looking desperate and depressed in business stress overwhelmed and overwork concept

Of additional interest is the fact that there are three from the top ten leading causes of death in the US – #1 Heart disease, #2 Cancer, and #7 Diabetes.

With all that against sitting, we still find ourselves doing it.  The information age has brought us technology, technology has brought convenience, and convenience has brought us to our knees (or our butts, to be more accurate).

More bad news – research is finding that people can not change the results of sitting with a half hour or hour of exercise.  You should read that again.  Research is finding that people can not change the results of sitting with a half hour or hour of exercise.  

The medical definition of exercise:  Physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body.  The two aspects of exercise we most focus on are Intensity and Duration, namely, High Intensity and Short Duration.

Research states that high intensity, short duration exercise does not combat the problems of prolonged sitting.  Exercise, by its very definition, doesn’t cut it.  So while everyone believes in their heart that making a trip to the gym is offsetting that desk job, it turns out they are missing the mark and will still have the same list of problems ailing us.  Exercise is like cramming for an exam – a student may hold the details just long enough to answer the question, but the information doesn’t stick long term.

Will *you* stop exercising?  e8e94f20-90fe-4391-b25b-bba8effe05dc

Many of my women friends would happily throw in the towel because exercise is too hard, takes too much time, and requires a different wardrobe.

I say, ‘Go ahead!’  After all, research doesn’t support exercise making a difference to your sitting, and we all follow the advice of research, don’t we?

I’ll reveal in an upcoming post, what we CAN do – and guess what, research supports that, too!

 

The *New* Sit

Mom has been wrong all these years, telling us to sit up straight!  Articles published recently claim that sitting up straight places too much pressure on the spine.  MRI scanning of 3 seated positions, forward, upright, and leaning back, shows that a reclined seated position results in less intervertebral pressure and a decrease in compression on the spinal discs of the low back.

Check out this illustration:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6187080.stm

Let’s think about this for just a moment.  Reducing the amount of total weight on the spine (by leaning back), will of course, decrease the amount of compression the bones and discs bear.  By this recommendation, a healthier suggestion intimates that people ought to lie entirely flat – that removes ALL pressure on the spine.  Actually, because gravity exists on this planet, it won’t remove all the pressure, so let’s ship everyone into space… that definitely removes most weighted pressure on the spine.

Given that this references only the weight the spine must bear, let’s have a go at this idea:  Remember what happens to astronaut bones?  NASA reports those tempting fate in space lose bone density and muscle mass along with many other side effects.  http://tinyurl.com/m798jwd  

According to WEBMD.com, bones are living tissue and continue to grow throughout our lives.  Bones cells are replaced about every 10 years or so, and what keeps them strong?  National Institute of Health declares the more work bones do, the stronger they get.

That’s saying something.  In space, bones don’t get much work because there is little gravity for the muscles and bones to work against.  Makes sense.  In a reclined chair, bones aren’t getting much work through pressure or pull of muscles on them to hold them in an upright position.  Will people who lean back and recline while seated for long periods of time, change their bone density as well?  Probably!

And to add to your ideas about bones and lowered density, health.harvard.edu declares that “Everybody’s bones get weaker as they get older.”  This is only true if everybody stops moving as they get older… (which is often the case).

Bones don’t move on their own or choose a density based on age.  Bones require muscles to move them and when a muscle acts strongly on bone, the bone cells know to increase density to withstand the forces applied.  Put pressure on your spine – actually try sitting up for a change!

Why do aging women tend toward osteoporosis?  Men typically have more muscle mass to begin with so they enter the aging years with more dense bones.  Weight bearing exercise is typically recommended for women post-menopausal to keep bone density up.

Too often women facing a diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis are told they must take medications.  Why is this?   For people who have weak bones they obviously reduced their movement habits over a long enough time that the bones don’t ‘require’ density.  Are they able to transform their daily lives and begin to exercise?   It may be easier to ensure patient compliance by prescribing a pill than prescribing exercise.

Take a second look at each of the above profiles – the head is forward of the shoulder.   Researchers obviously didn’t notice the strain on the neck and the potential deformity of the neck bones when they recommended the reclined position as best.

What research will you follow?   Here is an article,  Science of Posture, that states standing (or sitting) tall, has a positive effect on your thoughts, moods, habits, AND hormones.  Ultimately, the choice is yours in how you hold your body.  Research seems to support both slouching and sitting up straight.

I support staying optimistic, thinking creatively, feeling empowered and keeping my posture upright.  To do all this, just move well and more often!!   And the added benefits include maintaining bone density in the low back, as well.

If you’re having trouble moving easily, sitting straight, or keeping your balance, contact BODYWISE for your consultation today – remember Good Moves make for a Great Life!


#MoveEveryday, #MoveMoreAgeLess, #BodyWise, #AlignYourFeet, #PosturePerfect, #CreateYourLife, #BetterMovement, #GoodMovesGreatLife, #NatureBodyWiseBody

Sit up or sit down

 

IMG_9208.JPGBodies conform to the shapes of the chairs we sit in: What does your chair ‘say’ about you?
If that chair is overstuffed and cradling your body, you may use very little (to no) muscle to hold yourself.

If it has a straight-back, your neck muscles can probably hold your head comfortably over the upright stacked spine – if it’s curved, the muscles on the front of your neck work overtime to support the head.

In a higher chair, it does not require much leg strength to lower yourself down.  If its low to the ground, it takes a lot of muscle to get there (or you just may avoid that chair altogether if it’s too difficult for you!)

Pay attention to where you sit.  Notice how long you sit.  Vary the objects you choose to sit in, from bar stools to Big Boys to… the floor!  If you can get up from the floor, and do it multiple times a day, you’ll live longer!!

If you do need to sit and the floor is not an option, I recommend sitting in a hard straight chair:

1.  You won’t sit too long in it,

2. You’ll have good support against which to stand up from, and

3. You’re likely to get in and out of it more often – a good leg strengthening exercise which will give you good moves and keep you body wise…
#MoveEveryday, #MoveMoreAgeLess, #BodyWise, #AlignYourFeet, #PosturePerfect, #CreateYourLife, #BetterMovement, #GoodMovesGreatLife

Change Your Chair

IMG_9127.JPGMost chairs are a similar height so the difference in the vertical change we make (from standing to sitting) on a daily basis varies little.  Obviously, a taller person has to lower themselves further to sit in a chair than one of shorter stature.

The important point is how often one *varies* the vertical distance traveled. The body habituates itself so well, that it learns and remembers how far away a chair is… And the musculature necessary to accomplish the task quickly adjusts to only whats needed (and little more).

Given enough time and limited movement, even the same chair can become difficult for someone to get into, or get out of.  We’ve all witnessed the elderly struggling to sit and stand…  Truth:  If we don’t use muscle, we lose muscle.

How do you know if you’re headed down the path to losing muscle?  A few clues are sure indicators

1. Using your hands and arms to lift yourself out of a chair

2. Difficulty getting fully straight and upright after sitting.

3. Inability to lower yourself all the eay down into the seat of a chair (*crashing* down the last 1″ or more).

Keep your muscles guessing – and strong – by changing what you sit on as well as where you sit!  Try standing  up more often throughout the day, too.

 

Fast Reproaching

Shore_overcastWhen Seasons Change:

What to do when time conspires against you

The weather is cooling and the rain is menacing.  For many, that means very little  time outdoors.  Less time outside begats less exercise.  Less exercise invites weight gain.  Add ‘The Holiday Season’ and the pounds spike up to numbers we’ve never  believed possible.

Studies indicate an average of 5lbs will be gained by people already carrying more weight than is optimal.  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/22/the-skinny-on-holiday-weight-gain/

And what’s a few more pounds?  Yet, if you gain what’s typical (5lbs) every year, that’s a whopping 50lbs after 10 years.  And to take it one step further, will it be easier to change 10 years of habits in order to take off the weight?  Most people have a hard time making shifts that create change.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there is a very specific determinant that affects how quickly the aging process takes place.  Thoughts turn to genetic predisposition, environmental exposure, available food sources, etc.  However, the

Lifestyle choices are the single most important factor in reducing age-related body changes.  And it’s not just the choice of which desserts to choose from during the holidays – it’s the choices you make everyday of the year.

Most everyone knows what they should not eat and that exercising is good…

But how does one know  what should be eaten and what exercises to do?

  • First, understand what you don’t know.
  • Second, decide the goal.
  • Third, choose a plan of action.

If you need help, BODYWISE specializes in assessment, manageable exercises, and supporting your progress.  And because of the holidays, there is a special to celebrate you getting where you want your health to be…

www.bodywisebodywork.com/specials

Let me help you!  Make 2015 the year you do it right.

Simple Pain – Astounding Solution

Like most, I feel it when I bend over.  The back of my legs aren’t as loose and free moving as I want them to be.  Don’t get me wrong, I can bend over and touch the floor with my fingers so my hamstrings aren’t short by any means (most people have trouble touching their own ankles with a straightened leg).

But I have been woken up at night by my stretching because the backs of my legs have felt tight.  And interestingly, the right has felt tighter than the left.  So, what is a massage therapist to do?  I already get regular massage, acupuncture, chiropractic and physical therapy and those haven’t addressed (or identified) the CA– USE.

I decided to spend time in objective observation, alongside sessions of regular stretching.  And there it was, I found it!  I found the pattern that made the right hamstring and calf tight.  The same pattern that caused a muscle that controls my big toe to get sore after walking around DC for four hours while on vacation.

Now wait a minute.  Tight calf.  Tight hamstring. But she can still touch the floor.  Sore toe muscle.  It doesn’t appear connected, or does it?  What’s really going on here is an exercise in *induction*.  One must understand that if a muscle is sore, it has been overworked – so the muscle responsible for moving my toe was working hard after I walked for so many hours.  That muscle(s) is in the calf so that makes sense because it’s been tight.  And the calf is a part of the ‘flexor chain’ on the back of the leg so if it’s tight, the hamstring may also be tight.

And where there are tight muscles, there is also a change in the structure (posture).  So what about my alignment is promoting this shortness?  The answer:  My right hip shifts forward.

This may sound funny or strange or incredulous:  How can a healthy person who receives regular bodywork treatments end up with a condition that went unidentified for months?  Patterns reveal themselves but often take time to develop noticable symptoms.  Follow the symptoms and don’t stop until the cause reveals itself.

This is the same process I use for resolving chronic and acute pain in clients.  It works… every time.