Easy ways to move more

Posted on 28 March 2017

Looking for the get-up-and-go inspiration you need to live a longer, healthier life? These 10 tips offer a great place to start.

Easy ways to get moving

Good health, like bad health, does not accumulate in a day. Taking that first step can often be the hardest, but you don’t have to break a sweat to see and feel the benefits of regular movement. Here are a few easy-to-implement activities and alternatives to start incorporating into your lifestyle.

1. Take your children or your pets for a walk in the park.

2. Park your car at the far end of the parking lot.

3. Use the stairs, not the lift.

4. Tend your garden regularly, or de-weed your lawn yourself.

5. Take up a leisurely activity like dancing or walking in nature.

6. Instead of meeting a friend for coffee, meet for a hike.

7. At the office, suggest walking meetings outside, instead of the traditional sit-down.

8. Put on some music and tackle those household chores you’ve been avoiding.

9. Take your phone calls standing, and pace up and down while you chat.

10. Work standing up.

Unlike other risk factors for disease – such as age, family history and gender – physical inactivity can be changed. And over time, the negative effects of physical inactivity may be decreased or even reversed.

KEEP IT LIGHT AND REAP THESE BENEFITS:

• Better bone and functional health
• Improved mental health
• Reduction in anxiety and depression
• Better stress management
• Improved self-esteem
• Better sleep
• Reduced risk of non-communicable diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and more.

ON YOUR FEET

Research has found that sitting for more than six hours a day greatly increases your risk of premature death. In 2000, smoking was linked to 4.8 million deaths. By 2008, physical inactivity had surpassed this figure and was linked to 5.3 million that year. Small wonder the standing desk, which dates back to Leonardo da Vinci’s time, has made a comeback. The benefits of standing while working include a reduced risk of weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and back problems, plus increased levels of productivity, mood and energy.

‘People with desk jobs can also have problems with shortened hamstrings, lower back pain, and similar ergonomic issues,’ says Mathilda Janse van Rensburg, a biokineticist at Mediclinic Hermanus.

If standing while you work is not an option, try these quick fixes:

• Use an adjustable chair to position your feet flat, with thighs parallel to the floor.
• Adjust the arm rests so your elbows are bent 90º or more to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
• Raise or lower your screen so the centre is at chin level, 35cm from your face. Any further and you’re at risk of spinal misalignment.
• Take short breaks to move around or stand up and stretch every 20-30 minutes.
• Beware of slouching – it inhibits breathing and causes impaired circulation to your organs.

THE STUDY THAT ‘INVENTED’ EXERCISE

The daily activities of British bus drivers and postal workers provided the groundbreaking data that first proved the life-saving benefits of regular exercise. In post-World War II Britain, more and more people were dying of heart attacks – and epidemiologist Prof Jerry Morris set out to find out why. He looked at the heart attack rates among postal and transport workers – and found that bus drivers, who spent most of their day sitting, had substantially higher rates of heart disease than bus conductors, who spent their days rushing up and down the steps of London’s double-decker buses. The picture was similar among postal workers – those who physically delivered mail were less likely to suffer heart attacks than those who worked behind the counter at the post office.

Words Melissa Wentzel

See other articles from the Mediclinic Family magazine here.

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In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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