Three studies this week once again confirm the relationship between a sedentary lifestyle, risk of disease and early death. In the first study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a group of nearly 800 middle aged men were followed for 45 years to determine how useful physical fitness level at middle age is for predicting risk of early death.  As it turns out, it’s a good predictor. The results showed that poor physical fitness at middle age was related to risk of early death. Said another way, the men most physically fit at middle age lived longer.

A summary of this research is at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_160110.html

Complete journal article is at: http://cpr.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/07/13/2047487316655466.full.pdf+html

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The second study, published in the journal Circulation, looked at the risk of heart disease in almost 100,000 women over a 20 year period of time.  The results of this study showed that the most physically active women had a 25 percent lower risk of heart disease than did the least physically active women.

A summary of this research is at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_160054.html

The third study, published in The Lancet, looked at the relationship between physical inactivity (sitting) and early death in more than one million people. The more hours a day people sat and the less active they were the rest of the time, the greater their risk of early death. Risk increase ranged from 12 – 59 percent with the greatest risk among people who sat the most and exercised the least. The increase risk of early death from sitting for many hours was offset in people who exercised for 60-75 minutes a day.

 A summary of this research is at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_160102.html

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The take away from these studies should be clear – to decrease our risk of disease and early death, we need to get up and exercise!  But, exercising doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym or running a marathon. Something as simple as walking for 30 minutes five days a week is a good start.

Here’s some help for getting started from Shape Up America

If you have any concerns about your joints (ankles, knees or hips) or other health issues, discuss your exercise plans with your health care provider.
 

  • Get a good pair of sneakers. A running shoe with plenty of cushion us best.
     
  • Buy a pedometer, use your smart phone or get a step tracking device.
     
  • Track your baseline. Track you steps for a week to find out how many steps you usually take each day, before you make any changes. In general, most people take between 900 to3000 steps a day. It’s pretty difficult to get in 10,000 steps a day without intentionally going out for a walk (or getting on a treadmill).
  • Set your first goal. Use the highest number of steps you walked on any given day during your baseline week as your daily step goal. Use a lesser number of steps as your goal if you prefer. To avoid injury, do not select a higher number. Aim for your step goal each day for the next two weeks. If the most steps you walked on any given day your first week was 2500, this becomes your daily goal for the next two week. At bedtime, write down how many steps you took that day.
     
  • Adjust your goal. At the end of the two week period, decide if you are ready to add another 500 steps to your goal. Your new step goal will be 3000 steps a day for the next two-week period. Continue in this manner, working up as slowly as you wish, until you finally reach the goal of 10,000 steps a day.
     

If you experience any pain or discomfort that concerns you, check with your health care provider.  Pain is a warning sign that something may be wrong. Take it slow. Take it easy.

Ways to get more steps into your daily routine:

Walk and talk while on the phone. Pace back and forth, walk around the room, your office or house.
Park as far from the entrance to a store, your place of employment or your front door, as possible.
Use the bathroom farthest from where you are, whether in your house or at work.
Set your computer or phone to signal every 30-60 minutes to remind you to get up and walk around.
Walk around the room while watching a TV show.
Carry one grocery bag into the house at a time.
Walk up and down every aisle in the grocery store, even if you don’t need anything.
Use the steps instead of an elevator or escalator.
Walk in and out of every room in your house once or twice a day.
Walk to the mailbox.
If you use mass transportation, get off a stop early and walk to your destination.
Walk your children to and from school, if possible, or at least to and from the bus stop.
Dance.
Mow your own lawn.
Clean your own house.
Park at the opposite end of the mall from where you want to shop.
Instead of talking with a friend over coffee, take a walk and talk.
Walk the dog. (No dog? Maybe it’s time to adopt one!)
 

For more information:

Shape up America

            http://shapeup.org/10000-steps/

American Heart Association
            Get moving!

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/GettingActive/Get-Moving-Easy-Tips-to-Get-Active_UCM_307978_Article.jsp#.V56vNKIVW6R

No time for exercise?
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/GettingActive/Get-Moving-Easy-Tips-to-Get-Active_UCM_307978_Article.jsp#.V56ukKIVW6Q