How to move more:

*Any movement is better than not moving. Don’t wait until you’re ready to hit the gym for an hour at a time. Dr Rangan Chatterjee talks about ‘bite-size exercise snacks’…a few star jumps here, and a few burpees there, and before you know it, you’ve done significant exercise through the course of your day. Set achievable goals, and put reminders in place. For instance, doing the ‘plank’ position while you are waiting for the kettle to boil, or doing sit-ups while you are running your bath.
*Lessen your time being sedentary (seated).
* Try to stand up every 2 hours for 5 at least seconds. Or better yet, stand up, and go for a quick stroll.
* Do not hesitate to use the bathroom (a bathroom break is a good excuse to stand up and move a little).
*Take the stairs in stead of the elevator.
*Walk to your colleague to talk, rather than sending an email, or picking up the phone.
* Get into the habit of walking, and aim for 10 000 steps a day. Walking can be seen as a gateway exercise for those not moving a lot, to get into the habit of regular exercise. Walking, like breathing, is a fundamental function that the brain does without the need for conscious control. Thus, there are not many valid excuses for not walking.
*Start seeing the whole world as your gym, there are plenty of opportunities to move more!
* According to ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) guidelines, adults should do exercise (for example walking) at least 5 times a week for 30minutes at a moderate intensity (so you should still be able to talk to your friend), for substantial health benefits.
*Strength training twice a week prevents sarcopenia (age related muscle loss). Muscle is our forgotten organ. It has many functions in the body, and the more muscle you have, the better it can perform its function. Some of these functions include the release of anti- inflammatory chemicals, and hormone regulation and -function.
*We spend most of our time in flexion, sitting down, hunched over, arms forward, looking down to some degree. (Think how we’re sitting at a desk, working on a computer). This is the consequence of modern living, and is not a good consequence when it comes to our posture, and general body mechanics. Learning to extend (opening up, and moving in the opposite direction of previously described flexion), can be very valuable to our general wellness.

Benefits of regular movement

Regular structured exercise and physical activity does enhance the pathophysiology of diseased and/or injured tissue.

Cardiovascular benefits of movement:
* Reduced blood pressure
*Enhanced cardiovascular function (your heart and blood vessels do their job better), and better quality of life for those with cardiovascular disease.
* Decreased resting heart rate due to the fact that movement activates your parasympanic (rest and digest) system.
* Increased cardiac output (The amount of blood the heart pumps through the circulatory system in a minute).
* Movement significantly increases the amount of oxygen extracted from circulating blood (more oxygen is delivered to your muscle fibres).
* Decreased blood glucose (sugar) levels and increased insulin receptor sensitivity – thereby optimizing blood sugar metabolism.
*Decreased triglyceride, LDL (bad) cholesterol and increased HDL (good) cholesterol
* These benefits have a significant positive effect on diabetics, those with dyslipidemia (when you have cholesterol problems), and those who are obese and have CHD (coronary heart disease).
*Movement facilitates your blood flow as well as the secretion of nitric oxide (NO). The NO diffuses into the coronary cells facilitating vasodilation (your arteries expands and that helps to decrease your blood pressure).
*Movement decreases unwanted blood clotting.

Metabolic benefits of movement:
*Muscles that are constantly moving have larger and more mitochondria (the energy factories of our cells) compared to sedentary muscles – that provides your body with more energy resources.
*Movement helps to prevent muscle fatigue and enhances your aerobic fitness.

Benefits on body composition:
*Movement improves your body composition by reducing your visceral (abdominal) fat and increases your lean muscle mass. Visceral fat is a dangerous type of fat has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, certain cancers and stroke.
*Exercise reduces your chance of becoming obese.

Mental and Psychological benefits:
*Movement improves your psychological well-being, by reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
* Regular movement stimulates the release of the following neurotransmitters; norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin (the “feel-good” hormones) that play an important role in improving stress, anxiety and depression.
*Exercise also releases endorphins; chemicals produced by the body to relieve pain and stress.
*Decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
*Improved brain health (mental clarity, and improved concentration).

Other benefits:
*Reduced risk of osteoporosis.
*The aging process is slowed down. Who does not want to look and feel younger for longer?

When in doubt whether you are strong enough, or fast enough to perform any exercise, remember this:

No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch!

Mariné Burger
Dr Alma le Roux

References used:
•Durstine JL, Moore GE, Painter P, Roberts SO (2009) ACSM’s Exercise Management for Persons with Chronic Diseases and Disabilities (3rd Ed.). Champaign: IL: Human Kinetics.
•McArdle, Katch & Katch, Exercise Physiology, Human Kinetics (1996)
•Rangan Chatterjee, The 4 Pillar Plan (2018)