The Missing Piece In The Exercise Puzzle

“You might have thought that going to the gym protects you from lethal sitting. If you are one of the 15 percent of Americans who belongs to a gym, I have something eye opening to tell you. Going to the gym, even several times a week, does not reverse the harmful effects of prolonged sitting.” Dr James Levine

Mention exercise and most of us envision screaming muscles, exhausted lungs and sweating bodies. For decades the fitness industry has been geared around the concept of working out which has spawned a vast array of gyms, studios, classes, programs, videos and equipment. No doubt working out has its place but what’s got lost in this storm of products and marketing is the simple art of moving… frequently… each and every day.

Watch almost any animal in the wild and you will see a distinct pattern of movement. Lots of slow, varied movement as they patrol their environment seeking food, water and shelter interspersed with short bursts of intense activity as they hunt, flee or fight.

It’s a pattern we would do well to emulate.

Energising Movement – High frequency, low intensity exercise such as walking, stretching and playing which helps keep the body fresh, energised and healthy. This is the wild animal equivalent to roaming for food, water and shelter.

Performance Exercise – Low frequency, high intensity exercise such as resistance training and sprinting which help improve muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness and body shape. This is the wild animal equivalent to hunting, fleeing or fighting.

Workout regularly and we can all improve our fitness performance. Lift more, run further, recover fast. We improve what we practice. However these performance benefits are increasingly built upon a smaller and shakier foundation. Technological innovation, sedentary jobs, sedentary entertainment, sedentary travel and the inescapable rise of the chair is steadily eroding the movement variety and frequency from our days. We are losing the base of our exercise pyramid.

Fortunately it’s a problem with a simple solution. Spend less time sitting down!

Stand up, move around, stretch. Set a timer if you have to. Even a few minutes away from the chair will have a tremendous energising effect on the body. Furthermore the small and steady accumulation of activity throughout the day will help engage muscles across the body, enhance blood flow and burn extra calories!

To hammer this message home think of astronauts in space who in the abscence of gravity experience a rapid degeneration of their body in ways typically associated with ageing. The best way to minimise gravitys positive effects down here on earth… excessive sitting.

Time to get up and move!

Recommended Reading

Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It by Dr James Levine