The movement of motion

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  • American Heart Association/Associated Press Walking instead of sitting for hours on end could go a long way to boost health of Canadians and the economy, according to a new study involving the Conference Board of Canada.

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    Fotolia via AP Seniors enjoy the company of others on a walking path.

  • American Heart Association/Associated Press Walking instead of sitting for hours on end could go a long way to boost health of Canadians and the economy, according to a new study involving the Conference Board of Canada.

  • 1

    Fotolia via AP Seniors enjoy the company of others on a walking path.

A return to a more active (and fit) you is more doable

than you may think

By JERRY HITCHCOCK

Staff Writer

We’ve all been there. You know, those days when we just didn’t feel up to anything more than holding down the furniture with our butts. This could be due to exhaustion, depression, or even a lifestyle that is void of physical activity.

While it’s perfectly normal to feel less than energetic at times, there can be serious health risks associated with a pattern of very little movement in the course of a day.

As humans, we live by the law of inertia as much as any other form of matter on the planet.

And as such, through our habits, we either tend to stay idle or in motion based on our recent actions — on inaction.

A body in motion gets used to moving, and living beings can adapt to the level of activity. In contrast, a body not in motion can, over the course of time, deteriorate from the inactivity.

A history of prolonged inactivity in humans can also be categorized as a sedentary lifestyle. There are many issues which come to the forefront in sedentary beings.

It is very easy to slip into a sedentary lifestyle. Someone who has the option to stay home, with no reason to venture outside or complete any tasks indoors which involve some level of regular activity, is susceptible to falling into such a lifestyle.

The longer someone submits to a sedentary lifestyle (or sitting disease, as it’s commonly referred to), the harder it will be to break that lifestyle and return to a more active form of day-to-day living.

So what exactly happens to the body when it is not asked to do much?

For starters, weight gain is a very common side effect. Food can act as a reward to the brain, and putting on pounds can lead to health risks such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The longer a body is inactive, the harder it is for a person who wants to return to a more healthy lifestyle to actually achieve a significant amount of change. A long-term sedentary person who tries to jump head-long into exercise will be receiving messages from the brain that what they are doing is wrong. The brain is not used to this effort, and has gotten used to the status quo, and as a result, it’s sounding the alarm that something is not right, even though a person who can power through these messages can achieve better health.

Sedentary people will lose some degree of their body’s flexibility. This occurs when the blood flow slows through tight, bound muscles. Pain and inflammation can creep in. Entire muscle groups become weaker when joints are used less, and over time, those muscles can lose a great deal of their ability to become strong in the future.

The body’s metabolism naturally slows down as someone becomes sedentary. As a result of this, we lose that ability to break down fat. This is why most people can have a very hard time losing weight during the early stages of a newly-incorporated diet-and-exercise routine.

Aside from muscle structure, bones can suffer as well. Osteoporosis can creep in since a body is made to move, and without movement, the bones will lose that ability to stay strong.

Other problems can include dementia, anxiety and depression. A healthy mind will concern itself with making sure the body is ready for more activity, while the mind of a sedentary person is more apt to divert its resources and let negative thoughts and habits become commonplace.

So what can you do?

First, you must have the desire to get up and get active. Determination will carry you a long way in returning to fitness.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is a group of exercises which includes bending, turning and stretching. Professionals advise that 10 minutes of these exercises in an hour is a great way to re-introduce your body to movement. Someone who can do these 5-6 times per day will notice a difference in a matter of weeks. Suddenly, more intense exercise won’t seem so far out of the realm of reality.

Starting NEAT exercises in the morning will allow for your metabolism to increase and prepare it to burn calories throughout the day. Studies suggest a person doing NEAT exercises is burning 25 percent more calories than someone who remains static most of the day.

Health advisers also suggest going for a brisk walk during a lunch hour, even if it only is 15 minutes in duration.

Finding things to keep you up and busy at home can help by re-training the body to get used to supporting weight more often.

As a result of the increased activity, you should have much deeper and restful sleep, which will enable you to have more energy in the morning.

As always, consult a physician before starting or returning to any diet or exercise plan. The doctor may have an alternative plan he’d want you to follow, depending on your unique situation.

Remember, there is hope for the future. Putting in some activity today will lead to a healthier tomorrow!

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