Motion is Medicine

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Ever spend a whole weekend binge-watching a series and just basically being a couch potato? Ever notice how it makes you feel? Not great, right? Or, even worse, you spend most of your day in front of a computer. Sitting still as you meet those all-important deadlines. This is a common problem with modern lifestyles, but there’s an easy fix: motion is medicine.

The risks

Who would have thought that a sedentary lifestyle (characterized by much sitting and little physical exercise) could have so many risks? Here are a few of the consequences you could face:

-Burning fewer calories. This makes you more likely to gain weight.
-Losing muscle strength and endurance.
-Bones getting weaker and losing some mineral content.
-Your metabolism is affected – your body may have more trouble breaking down fats and sugars.
-Your immune system not working as well.
-Poorer blood circulation.
-More inflammation.
-Developing a hormonal imbalance.

The diseases you are more likely to develop are:

Obesity
Heart diseases, including coronary artery disease and heart attack
High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Stroke
Metabolic syndrome
Type 2 diabetes
-Certain cancers, including colon, breast, and uterine cancers
Osteoporosis
-Increased feelings of depression and anxiety

How to flatten the curve: motion is medicine

The risk of weight gain is higher with an inactive lifestyle. Obesity leads to many other illnesses (amongst them Type 2 diabetes) and is probably the effect you will feel first. But luckily, there is a fix! Just move.

Just getting started

This is the most difficult part, really! You can start by identifying ways to be more active around the house and the office (and your home office). Housework is excellent exercise, as is gardening and yard work. If you spend much time watching tv, you can keep moving while you do so. Lift weights, do yoga stretches or pedal an exercise bike. These exercises benefit from getting you moving without sacrificing your favourite pastime and being independent of weather conditions. If weather permits, it would do you good to get out a little bit. Take the dog for a walk, walk your kids to school or walk with a friend.

Convince yourself that physical activity will increase your health if you give it a chance; then, try it. Repeat our mantra every day: Motion is medicine.

What happens to your body when you move?

Mental health

While it is obvious that your feelings can influence your movement, it is not as obvious that your movement can impact your feelings too. For example, when you feel tired and sad, you may move more slowly. When you feel anxious, you may either rush around or become completely paralyzed. However, recent studies show that the connection between your brain and your body is a “two-way street”, and that means movement can change your brain, too!

Physical changes when you excercise

Muscles: Glucose (sugar the body has stored away) will be used for the energy required for movement. Tiny tears form in the muscles and help them grow both bigger and stronger as they heal.

Lungs: Your body may need up to 15 times more oxygen when you exercise, so you start to breathe faster and heavier.

Heart: When you exercise, your heart rate increases to circulate more oxygen (via the blood) faster. The more you exercise, the more efficient the heart becomes at this process so that you can work out harder and longer.

Brain: Increased blood flow also benefits the brain. Immediately, the brain cells will start functioning at a higher level, says Cameron, making you feel more alert and awake during exercise and more focused afterwards. When you work out regularly, the brain gets used to this frequent surge of blood and adapts by turning certain genes on or off.

Joints: Exercising puts extra weight on the joints, sometimes up to five or six times more than your body weight.