by Kathie England

Better Than Before – Day 5

Yesterday I said I would discuss the next two foundations, Move and Eat and Drink right, explored by Gretchen Rubin, but I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to focus only on Move because it’s a topic I’ve wanted to talk about for some time.

 When Rubin says that “physical exercise is the magical elixir of practically everything,” she is not alone! (I’ll share some of my other references who agree with this perspective in a moment.) The value of exercise and movement includes relieving anxiety, boosting energy and mood, improving memory, sharpening executive function (particularly important for those with ADHD), and contributing to weight maintenance. Rubin explains that it both energizes us and calms us. It also functions as a keystone habit (Charles Duhigg) because it helps us stick with other beneficial habits by strengthening our self-command.

I especially like that Rubin used the word Move rather than exercise when she listed the four foundations/pillars of habits. A few years ago I took at coaching class based on the book, Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change by Michael Arloski. Arloski stressed the value of using the word move rather than exercise because so many people feel discouraged about their lack of success with exercise plans.

Another perspective that goes along with this idea is about the importance to standing rather than sitting for long periods of time. Last year I attended an all-day workshop titled Pumped: Building a Better Brain Through Exercise and Movement. The instructor, Michael Lara, M.D., talked about the importance of movement in the evolution of the brain. He even reported that some neuroscientists believe that the brain evolved for one reason only – not to think or feel, but to produce adaptable and complex movements. Lara shared examples of the value of movement in treating conditions like Parkinson’s.  He talked about the value of Tai Chi, yoga, and dance. He was the first person I remember talking about the dangers of sitting too long.

He reported that life expectancy in the United States would be 2 years higher if adults reduced their time spent sitting to less than 3 hours a day and 1.38 years higher if they reduced their television viewing to less than 2 hours a day. He stated that sitting more than 6 hours a day will increase your chances of dying by 40% compared to someone who sits less than three hours a day. His recommendation is to sit for no more than 30 minutes at a time.

Canadian researchers recently reported that one hour of exercise a day won’t prevent earlier death if you spend most of the rest of your day sitting. These researchers reported that regardless of levels of physical activity otherwise, people who sat for long periods had an increased risk of developing a host of diseases. People who sat the longest had a 24% greater risk of dying, an 18% greater risk of heart disease, a 13% greater risk of cancer, and a 90% greater risk of diabetes. These results were published in the January 20, 2015 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Another reference that explains the value of exercise is Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. This book comes in a version for women and another one for men. This book was recommended to me by a client who has absolutely embraced the practices it describes. I read it and gave a copy to my sister who in turn suggested it to a friend who embraced it as completely as my client. She felt it was a life-changing book.

The last perspective that Rubin suggests is that movement affects the way we act and feel. She states (on page 63), “It’s easy to assume that we act because of the way we feel, but to a very great degree, we feel because of the way we act. If I act with more energy, I’ll feel more energetic.”

Now since I’ve been sitting for more than 30 minutes as I write this blog, it’s time to stand-up and move around.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about Eat and drink right – a good topic for the weekend!