We are born to move.
It sounds so simple, but yet all too often our lifestyles become more and more sedentary. Sir Isaac Newton’s three physical laws of motion were first published in 1687, yet their core principals hold true. An object that is at rest stays at rest unless an external force acts upon it. Fortunately, we are human beings and not inanimate objects! If you set a rock down, it will never move itself. As human beings, we have the ability to move ourselves. Articulating joints and muscles, coordinated by a central nervous system, which is controlled by a brain that computer and robotic manufacturers are still striving to replicate — and still failing to. So, it’s time to realize we aren’t rocks and find reasons to move on a regular basis.
What happens to our bodies when we don’t move enough.
The human body is extremely adaptive. If you were to decide to spend your day sitting on a couch the whole time, your body will adjust to that. If you decide to live an active life, your body will adapt to that as well. But if you choose a sedentary life, don’t expect to be happy with the results.
Here are some of the things to expect with a sedentary lifestyle.
Weaker, and smaller muscles.
Slower metabolism, and excess weight.
Loss of range of motion.
Thinner bones and a greater risk of osteoporosis.
Reduced brain function.
Weaker immune system, more illnesses, and slower healing.
Have you already lost a lung?
Studies done by Dr. Dean Ward showed that the loss of lung power is connected to aging. By the time most people reach 50, they have already lost 40% of their lung capacity! By age 80, you could have lost 60% or more. Why is this important to reverse? Smaller lungs mean your entire body will experience a loss of oxygen and have a weaker immune system. The European Society of Cardiology reported in 1988, that even a moderate decline in lung capacity increases your risk of heart disease by 200%.
Oxygen brings healing to the body. Have you ever wondered why the medical community is so worried about seniors dying from pneumonia? Seniors have less lung capacity, which lessens their ability to fight off disease and infections. We often see the elderly using oxygen tanks just to get around. A major breakthrough in healing wounds came when the medical industry developed Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers. They found that putting patients in a sealed chamber breathing pure oxygen pressurized from 1-1/2 to 3 times the normal atmospheric pressure greatly increased the rate of healing. For some people, especially diabetics, it meant the difference between healing or not healing. Athletes have been known to use them for faster recovery, increased endurance, and less fatigue.
So, it you are running out of breath, take it as a warning sign that you could be losing your lung capacity as well as your ability to fight disease.
Inactivity means smaller and weaker muscles.
Yoga classWe have all known someone who wore a cast on their leg, maybe even experienced it ourselves. When the cast is removed we can readily see that the muscles on the leg that had been wearing the cast are smaller. This is called atrophy. When we stop using our muscles, whether it was due to an accident or just a sedentary lifestyle, our bodies decide we don’t need those muscles anymore. Our bodies are extremely efficient with whatever resources it has, and would prefer to store food as fat than maintain muscles we are not using. But it’s more than just not using them. Your body pays attention to how much you use them. If your life were to consist solely of sitting on the couch, getting up to raid the fridge, and then heading back to the couch to eat, your body will decide that you only need enough muscular strength to accomplish that — and not much more.
Many people also forget that the heart is also a muscle, and like the other muscles in your body it can atrophy. A smaller, weaker heart will have a lot more trouble handling stress and shock than a stronger heart. The lack of activity means not just a weaker body, but also a weaker heart. The weaker your heart is, the higher the risk of a heart attack being fatal, since your heart will not have the capacity to survive.
Inactivity leads to weight gain and a slower metabolism.
Okay, so you probably knew this one. But did you know that increased lung capacity bringing more oxygen into your body will increase your metabolism?
Many people put on extra weight during the winter months, and of course we like to blame it on all that holiday food. But in reality, most people will find they are less active during the cold winter months. They are less likely to go for a walk, or go outside and play. Less activity allows the weight to creep up a pound here, and a pound there. Next thing you know, you have put on 5-10 pounds. Since you were less active, your body decided you didn’t need the food for energy and decided to store it as fat.
Inactivity will lead to a loss of range of motion.
When we don’t stay active, are bodies starts to change. When you no longer use your full range of motion on a regular basis, you start to lose it. When the muscles start to shorten, they can cause problems as they create subluxations (misalignments) in the spine and neck. That can lead to pinched nerves, headaches, and back pain. A decreased range of motion will also make you more susceptible to pulled muscle or a sprain/strain injury.
Everyday tasks, such as tying your shoes or picking something up off the floor, become more of a chore as it becomes increasingly harder to bend over far enough.
If you sit a lot — as many of us do with desk jobs — your hip flexors will shorten and your pelvis will begin to tilt forward. This will shorten your stride as you start to lose your proper range of motion. (Read our article titled, Can Sitting Too Much Kill You?)
Thinner bones and a higher risk of osteoporosis.
Starting in the 1960s with the space flight of Gemini, scientists noticed that astronauts lose an average of more than 1% bone mass for each month they spent in space. The condition is called Spaceflight Osteopenia. This happens because our bones respond by remodeling to accommodate the stress placed on them. While lounging on your couch is not as extreme as space flight, the lack of weight bearing exercises will over time lead to a lesser density in your bones. Your bones will also naturally lose density with age.
Osteoporosis is a medical condition where your bones have become brittle from the loss of tissue and density. For years doctors have been recommending exercises, specifically weight-bearing, resistance training, and flexibility exercises, to help individuals build and maintain their bone mass and density. This helps prevent osteoporosis.
Reduced brain function and feeling lethargic.
Inactivity and the lack of exercise will quickly leave you feeling lazy and lethargic. The reasons behind this go deeper the just being lazy. When you don’t exercise enough, your brain gets less blood flow, and with less blood flow your brain receives less oxygen. Your brain needs more than 10 times the amount of oxygen the rest of your body does.
When the brain has better blood flow it functions better — almost immediately. Have you ever noticed what people instinctively do when they really need to concentrate while on a phone call? They turn off the TV, and they get up and walk around while talking on the phone. The simple exercise of walking around allows their brain to focus better. Regular exercise promotes the growth of new brain cells, which helps boost memory and learning.
Inactivity leads to a weaker immune system, more illnesses, and prolonged healing time.
Your body is built for motion, and lack of activity breaks the body down. Your immune system will be quickly compromised due to inactivity. Your body will be attacked from multiple sources. As your lungs shrink, and less oxygen enters your body, your ability to fight off disease decreases. Without the oxygen needed for healing, recovery even from a cold takes longer than it should. The loss of mobility and range of motion will cause subluxations (misalignments) to your spine, which in turn will reduce the ability of your central nervous system to communicate with your brain. Your brain, already not functioning as well as it should due to lack of oxygen, will have incomplete knowledge of what is happening to your body — and your body will not be able to take care of itself as it should.
The lack of exercise leads to weight gain, and for millions of Americans blood pressure problems as well. Excess weight brings increased risks for heart attacks and type-2 diabetes too. Not only do these illnesses lead to premature deaths, but you are also looking at increased medical and drug expenses for a long time, and possibly the rest of your life.
Aging faster than you should.
Inactivity is the expressway to becoming old. If you want to get old fast, inactivity is a sure-fire way to accomplish that goal.
In 1966, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School conducted a research study involving 5 healthy young men who were 20. During this study, the 5 men spent three weeks of their vacation time in bed. At the end of the three weeks, they were tested again. During their three weeks in bed, these men developed many of the physiologic characteristics of men twice their age! They had higher body fat, faster resting heart rates, less muscular strength, a drop in their heart’s maximum pumping capacity, and higher systolic blood pressure.
It took only three weeks of bed rest for these young men to age 20 years. Fortunately for these men, the scientists conducting the test didn’t stop there. They put these men into an 8-week exercise program, which was able to reverse the physical deterioration and aging brought on by bed rest, and restore their youth. For some of these young men, the 8-weeks in training even allowed them to improve upon their health measurements that were taken prior to the study.
It’s Time to Start Moving!
Life is movement, and our bodies were built for movement. It’s time for all of us to add more activity to our lives. If your job requires a lot of sitting – find times to stand. Take a walk during your lunch break. If you and your children enjoy playing video games, play games that are active and get everyone up off the couch. Take the stairs instead of the elevator all the time. Make exercise a regular part of your life. Find activities you and your family can enjoy doing together. Move. Be active.
Starting to exercise regularly is a commitment to a healthier, longer life. Since everyone’s current level of fitness if different, we recommend that you talk to our doctors before starting any exercise program. Let them assess your current level of health and help you design a program that works for you.
Benefits of Exercise
When most people think about exercise they think about losing weight and getting in shape. Losing weight is probably the most common New Year’s resolution. However the benefits of exercising go way beyond weight loss. Here is a list of some of the benefits of exercising.
Higher lung capacity
More oxygen circulating in your body
Better bone density
Boost brain cell function (which protects against diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s)
More nutrients to your joints
Better control of your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
Stronger immune system
Greater flexibility and mobility
Decreased insulin levels
Increased HDL (good) cholesterol
Decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol
Younger looking skin
And much more