Diet & Nutrition Archive

The Power of Positive Movement   

 There’s been a lot in the news recently about the importance of increasing the amount of movement in our lives. One benchmark that has been heavily promoted is 10,000 steps a day (the equivalent of 5 miles). But 10,000 steps can sound like an impossible goal, especially if you don’t have a dog that demands to be walked on a regular basis! If you wear a pedometer, though, you might be surprised how quickly some of those steps add up.

Visiting the Costco or BJ's? Those places are so big that just getting to the back of the store can consume 500 steps. I’ve seen weekly grocery trips add up to 2,000 steps, what with going up and down aisles and backtracking to pick up the onions I forgot. Add steps just getting into the store by parking a little further away instead of looking for the closest space (you’ll also save on gas by not circling). Going out to the mailbox? That can take 100 steps, especially if you detour to pull a couple of weeds.

So how else can you achieve your 10,000 steps? Of course, there is always “formal” exercise (going to the gym for the elliptical or treadmill, for example) or a more “casual” format (such as going on a hike or bike ride around the neighborhood—experiment with attaching your pedometer to the hem of shorts or pants to record the movement). That song you love just came on the radio? Dance (like no one is watching)! Get outside and play Frisbee, catch, and badminton; chase the dog, fly a kite… It all adds up.

OK, you say, that’s all well and good, but what about people who work in an office 9-5, stuck at a desk? If your office has breaks in the morning and afternoon, use them to your advantage; not only will taking a quick stroll (even around the office) add to your steps, but it will also give you a needed mental break that can help you return to your desk with energy. And lunchtime doesn’t need to be all about eating; look for a path nearby, particularly one that goes through a scenic area (be it one with trees or stores with great window displays). Throughout the day, walk to a colleague’s office to discuss business in person instead of calling or exchanging emails back and forth. Doing business face to face will give you a reason to get out of your chair, provide your eyes with a much needed rest from the computer screen, and boost your mood!

It’s particularly important to find a way to keep moving if you have a sedentary job. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that women who remain seated for more than 41 hours a week are at higher risk for developing a pulmonary embolism (a serious condition in which a blood clot gets lodged in a pulmonary artery). This held true even for people who exercise regularly, although they are less likely to develop a clot. So, it is all the more important to find a way to stay active throughout the day, even if sitting. Take on the behavior of someone who can’t bear to sit still—fidget (it burns calories!), tap your feet, make rounds around the office, stand up when you take or make a phone call—in short, find a way to keep moving. It just might save your life.

Source: British Medical Journal. July 2011.

Past Articles:

Frequent Heartburn May Be Signs of GERD
Break Me Off A Piece Of That Kit Kat Bar!
Eh? What did you say I should eat?
Posting Calories-Not The Cure To Bad Food Decisions

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