(NaturalNews) The idea that exercise is good for us is constantly pummeled into our brains by the medical community, by health coaches and by the mass media. And while certain types of exercise can certainly be beneficial in context, placing too much emphasis on formal exercise may be highlighting the wrong issue and contributing to long term health problems--because it`s movement rather than exercise that has the most dramatic impact on our health.
What Makes Us Sedentary?
Who is more sedentary: the person who exercises for one hour several times per week or the one who never exercises at all? Conventional wisdom says the second person is sedentary and will probably experience negative side effects from it. This, however, is an incomplete picture and may in fact be completely wrong if other factors are considered.
More important than how often you exercise is how much you move during your everyday life. Why? Because how much time you spend sitting adversely affects your health far more than how much time you spend doing formal exercise. If you spend several hours a day sitting (at a desk, while commuting, at restaurants, etc.), it can negatively impact your health--even if you exercise regularly. Basically, regular exercise is not enough to counteract an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.
How to Add Movement to Your Lifestyle
There was a time when we didn`t have to consciously think about moving more during our daily lives, but that is no longer the case. During the last several decades, we have unconsciously shifted from a lifestyle that included plenty of movement to one that is mostly spent sitting down. Desk work is far more common than it used to be; commuting for at least an hour every day is not uncommon; and activities that used to require movement now require much less of it (washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.).
The best solution is to pepper our everyday lives with activity. This can be done in a variety of ways:
1. Take phone calls standing up or walking. 2. Use a standing desk if possible, or sit on an exercise ball at your desk. 3. Take frequent breaks during your day to use the restroom or to get a drink of water. 4. Try to get up and walk around for about five minutes during each hour. 5. Get up during commercial breaks while you`re watching television. 6. Use the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you have the choice. 7. Park on the far side of the parking lot when you can. 8. Get up and go window shopping rather than browsing online. 9. When you meet with friends, clients or colleagues, try to do something that includes more movement (such as walking through a local museum or park, etc.).
How you incorporate more movement into your life will largely depend on your lifestyle and preferences, but it can certainly be done if you make small changes over time. The little things really do add up in this case. Pretty soon you`ll be unconsciously moving more instead of unconsciously sitting more--and your health will thank you for it.
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...