The More We Move, the More We Improve

Medically reviewed in August 2018

Photo Credit: Angelo DeSantis, via Flickr Creative Commons

Research related to exercise over the past decade has been consistently clear about one thing—the more we exercise, the lower our risk for nearly all diseases. I like this simple phrase, “The more we move, the more we improve.”

Sedentary behavior has a deeper physiological impact on our bodies than we previously thought.

This doesn’t mean that just spending an hour a day at the gym counts. A report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sedentary behavior may diminish or nearly eliminate the benefits we get from even an hour of daily exercise.

The American College Of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also highlights research on sedentary behavior. “At the basic-science level, it appears that there are unique physiological processes and pathways associated with sedentary behavior, particularly prolonged sitting,” said Neville Owen, PhD, the lead presenter of the study. “These are some promising studies that point to what is likely to be a unique ‘sedentary physiology,’ which is distinct from what is known about the physiological processes generated by working muscle.”

Science is showing us that it’s not just about burning calories and elevating our heart rates. It’s about our overall way of living and moving. It’s just as important to break up periods of sitting and inactivity, even if it’s a minute or five to stretch or walk around.

“Healy’s research has identified the importance of breaking up sitting time,” said Owen in the ACSM release. “People who stand up and simply move around more have healthier blood fat and blood glucose levels than those whose sitting time is not broken up by these transitions.”

Increasingly, I advise my patients to get up from their desk and take a walk during the workday or take the stairs instead of the elevator, especially for those people where traditional exercise is difficult for legitimate reasons. These choices are as beneficial to your health as your regular exercise routine. There is a lot of value in activity beyond exercise.

Ornish Lifestyle Medicine recommends a minimum of 180 minutes of exercise per week. We also promote an active lifestyle along with stress management, a plant-based nutrition plan and a life filled with love and support. Still, these studies have caught my attention lately. This “sitting disease” is very real. To make the most of our healthy behaviors, we need to focus as much on activity as we do on exercise. So the next time you evaluate your exercise program, don’t forget to take a hard look at how much activity you are doing outside of your time at the gym.

Read the Ornish Living article How Two Minutes of Walking Per Hour Can Save Your Life for tips on adding more movement throughout your day!

This article was originally published on Ornish Living.

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