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Archive for October 2011


Reality Check #6

October 25th, 2011 — 6:55am

Our Sedentary Generation and the Disconnected Values Model – Part One.

sed·en·tar·y

1. Characterized by or requiring a sitting posture: a sedentary occupation.

2. Accustomed to sit or rest a great deal or to take little exercise.

3.Chiefly Zoology

A. Abiding in one place; not migratory.

B. Pertaining to animals that move about little or are permanently attached to something, such as a barnacle.

Or

C:My definition: pertaining to humans that move about little or their butt is permanently attached to something such as a chair or a couch.

Following a sedentary lifestyle is more dangerous for your health than smoking, says a new study reported in the South China Morning Post, and carried out by the University of Hong Kong and the Department of Health. In the study, researchers looked at the level of physical activity in people who died and were able to correlate their level of physical activity with their risk of dying.

The results are scary: 20% of all deaths of people 35 and older were attributed to a lack of physical activity. That’s more deaths than can be attributed to smoking. Looking at specific diseases, the risk of dying from cancer increased 45% for men and 28% for women due to lack of physical activity. The risk of dying from respiratory ailments was 92% higher for men and 75% higher for women. The risk of dying from heart disease was 52% higher for men and 28% higher for women, all due to a lack of physical activity. It turns out that being a couch potato can kill you, literally. Is it really surprising?

It’s interesting to note that the longest living cultures on the planet are those who are out there doing manual labour. It’s fascinating that in Western culture that we spend our entire lives working towards generating wealth only to become increasingly sedentary and then become a massive drain on the healthcare system-Using the healthcare system to keep us alive for longer.

This is really no surprise to naturopathic physicians, trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, holistic healers, martial artists, holistic nutritionists, and other people in the natural healing and physical culture fields: physical activity is absolutely critical for the health of the human body. In fact, it’s fair to say that the human body was designed to be used. There are a lot of metaphors in modern medicine that compare the human body to an automobile that are often misunderstood. These metaphors propose the idea that the body wears out with use. People say their knee joints have worn out, for example, and that’s why they have knee pain. But I have news for you on this: joints don’t “wear out” like car parts, and the human body actually gets healthier with use — unlike your automobile.

In fact, the more you use your body, the healthier it gets — up to a point of course; you don’t want to overexert yourself and cause injury, but very few people run the risk of actually doing too much exercise in modern society. Sadly, in today’s world, a lot of people just sit around. They spend endless hour watching TV, and they hold jobs that require them to sit behind a desk for 8 or 9 or 10 hours a day engaging in virtually no physical movement at all. As a result, they are being diagnosed with chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory ailments — all related to a lack of regular physical exercise.

And that is just a start. The number of musclo-skeletal injuries and dysfunctional movement patterns are on the increase as well. The squat as a movement pattern is almost extinct. After spending all day on our back sides, with a protruded head and neck posture, kyphotic (rounded) upper back and hips in a chronically flexed position it is no wonder that we have hypertonic (overactive, short and weak) muscles in our hips, our glute (bum) muscles don’t work and our lower backs are sore and always injured, and our hamstrings that are asked to pick up the slack are chronically torn. And I haven’t even mentioned our knees. Knee problems for the most part are hip problems. The knee maybe the symptom but the hip 99% of the time is the cause. So in a nutshell there is a strong correlation between a sedentary lifestyle to hip, knee and other musculoskeletal injuries. So after being sedentary most of the day, those of us that do go and exercise go and “workout” under load and intensity with dysfunctional movement patterns, a lack of neuromuscular balance or control and asymmetries and then wonder why we get injured.

In the U.S. it is at a point that businesses are now finding themselves under litigation for not having systems and procedures in place to protect their staff from being seated and their body “stewing” for extended periods of time. Insert speed meetings (a bit like speed dating-kept short and sweet), standing workstations and screen savers that freeze the computer for a few minutes so that you cant work and have no other option other than to get up and move around while you wait-with the screen savers showing you your mobility exercises. All implemented just to keep you moving.

All these diseases and issues can be prevented and even frequently reversed through physical exercise alone. Looking at why physical exercise makes individuals so much healthier gives us an interesting perspective on how the human body really works. The human body is designed to move around. And by moving the muscles, ligaments and limbs, you actually massage the tissues and organs of the body, bringing them oxygen and enhancing their flexibility.You also move lymph fluid around the body, and lymph must be moved through physical activity alone since there is no “lymph heart” to circulate lymph fluid regardless of your physical activity like there is with your cardiovascular system. (In other words, your heart pumps your blood even if you’re sitting in a chair. But there’s nothing to pump your lymph fluid other than sloshing your body around through regular movement.) Otherwise your body “stews”.

Physical activity gets everything moving in your body — the blood, the oxygen, the nutrients, the cellular respiration, peristalsis, the nervous system, and so on.

Sweating is good for you as well — you sweat out toxins and replace the lost liquids by drinking fresh, clean water.

Physical exercise, if done outside, also exposes you to the healing effects of natural sunlight, an essential nutrient for the human body that is deficient in most people. Getting enough sunlight on your skin can prevent and even reverse an astounding number of chronic diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, osteoporosis and more.

If you put all of this together, you see that physical exercise is extremely beneficial to the human body, and in fact the body won’t live nearly as long without it. Studies also show that it doesn’t take an enormous amount of physical exercise to achieve health-enhancing results. A mere 30 minutes a day of walking, swimming, jogging, cycling or other cardiovascular exercise can have astounding positive health effects.

What is really strange though is that we have lowered the bar so low in order to encourage people to exercise. 30 minutes of walking? Really? Yes it is grim when people can’t even walk for 30 minutes a day or they believe that that is their “exercise”. Wake up folks. Walking is locomotion. Not exercise. Are we that mentally weak? Are we that lazy?

Some studies are showing that if you are on your feet for under 8 hours a day that your hips may actually start to degenerate. In other words you are not using them so they start to break down.
When I teach personal trainers, and I mention that we are part of a sedentary population a lot of trainers get upset with me. “But I work out every day!” they say.

What about the other 23 hours. Just because you may work out for an hour a day doesn’t take you out of the category. Unless you are spending 8 hours or more of your day, running from predators, hunting, fishing, cooking, cleaning, building, gathering etc chances are, unlike our ancestors you fall under the category of being sedentary.

But exercising seems to remain a low priority for many. People ask, how can I avoid all of these diseases without actually having to do the exercises? Is there a way that I can get the benefits of this physical exercise without having to move my body? And the answer to that is simply, no. There is no easy way out. You have to actually do it if you want to get the benefits from it. No one can do it for you, no prescription drugs can give you the same effects, and no surgical procedure can create the health that your body would create on its own when you engage in regular physical exercise. This is something you must pursue on your own if you want to experience all the positive health results it offers.

Movement is life.

In part two, I will be discussing the disconnected values model. The disconnected values model explains for the most part why people say one thing and do another. In other words do your personal values line up with the time you actually spend cultivating your values in those areas and your behaviour in relation to them. In other words do you walk the walk as well as talk the talk. This model explains quite simply why so many people never reach their health and fitness goals. I hope you are meeting yours.

 

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