Hopefully, you’ve started the year off strong with the promise of a healthier 2016. Now that February has rolled around, staying active through the winter months could be the key to continuing the momentum of the New Year’s resolutions.
In physics, we learn about Newton’s First Law of Motion: objects in motion stay in motion; objects at rest stay at rest. To a certain degree, this is also how our bodies work. In fact, new research suggests, “Sitting is the new smoking.” However unavoidable in these modern days where electronic devices and desk jobs reign, sitting for too long is truly bad for your health in many ways. Understanding how inactivity affects your body may be great motivation to get moving daily.
- Increased fatigue: Blood and the oxygen it carries doesn’t circulate as well when your body is inactive. With less blood and oxygen circulating to your muscles and brain, your muscles and mind will feel more fatigued.
- Decreased metabolic efficiency: Being inactive for long periods of time reduces the effectiveness of insulin, which can lead to insulin resistance and lower metabolic activity, meaning the food you take in gets stored for future use in the form of body fat.
- Decreased bone density: Bone strength decreases as part of the natural aging process, which is why strength training and weight-bearing exercise is crucial to maintaining strong and flexible bones. Even exercises like walking can reduce the risk for weak and brittle bones and injury
- Decreased strength and muscle mass: Since sitting doesn’t challenge your major muscles, chronic inactivity can result in loss of overall muscle tone and strength.
- Poor posture and increased joint wear and tear: Most people don’t sit in a perfectly balanced position. Most of us lean to one side. Perhaps your legs are crossed, or your shoulders are at different heights (or worse yet, up near your ears). Sitting in these awkward positions day after day creates a muscle memory, creating asymmetries that can lead to pain and/or injury.
- Slower reflexes: In a seated position, reaction times aren’t as quick as they are when you are on your feet or in motion. In the long term, overall reaction time can slow.
- Testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) decrease: This one is mainly for the guys – HGH and testosterone levels decrease with inactivity, leading to weight gain, loss of muscle mass and strength, and erectile dysfunction.
- Decreased collagen turnover: Collagen is the connective tissue that holds “us” together. It’s as important to muscle as it is to skin. Being inactive reduces your body’s collagen-building activity, which weakens your tendons and body as a whole.
- Digestive woes: Slowing down the body can also slow down the gut, which can trigger symptoms such as constipation and even negatively affect how food is absorbed.
- Now that we’ve covered all the ways inactivity affects the body, let the momentum of the New Year help you keep up your fitness and wellness goals. Try setting an alarm for brief bouts of activity, especially on days that have you sitting at a desk or airplane (or couch) for long periods of time. Even a short walk, a good stretch or walking up and down a flight of stairs on otherwise inactive days can make a big difference.
*Remember, daily movement provides maximum benefit when accompanied by a clean, whole-foods diet. Jump start your healthiest year yet with Dr. Morrison’s 30-day Daily Benefit® Detox Kit to take your body to the next level.
Giovanni Roselli is a Tier 4 Coach for Equinox’s private training facility “E” in Greenwich, Connecticut. He is a master instructor for ViPR, Animal Flow, and Regressive Skills Training, as well as being a master kettle bell instructor for Kettlebell Athletics. He holds a nutrition certification with industry leader Precision Nutrition. He is a regular contributing author to PTontheNet, David Weck’s WeckMethod website, and lifestyle magazine ‘WAG.’ His television appearances include NBC’s ‘Today Show’ and National Geographic’s ‘Brain Games.’