How to Thrive Despite Your Sedentary Job: quick ways to implement the suggestions in the new NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study
In an article published just 5 days ago at this writing (August 30, 2017), the National Health Institute and AARP confirmed and quantified what your Mom and Grandma have told you all along: sitting too much and watching too much TV are bad for you.
We all know this, but it's easy to miss the mark of 7 hours of physical activity per week set in the conclusion to "The Joint Associations of Sedentary Time and Physical Activity With Mobility Disability in Older People: The NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study." This was the number of hours of physical activity reported by the people with the least mobility disability - the folks we all want to be, able to get up and around on our own without hurting too much.
While this 7 hours includes light physical activity, like walking to get the mail or stretching, it also includes some activity that leaves us breathless. This 7 hour mark is nearly triple the 150 minute recommendation of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Your yoga practice is looking better and better, isn't it ?
One of the recommendations includes getting up every 30 minutes during our sedentary activities. Think desk job, TV watching, Netflix-and-chilling. Even 30 seconds every 30 minutes provides benefits that could keep you motoring under your own steam long past your cohort.
In NPR's coverage of this study, they also quote a representative of the American College of Cardiology who recommends we exercise til breathlessness a few times a week.
The postures and stretches you practice during your Badlands sessions are the perfect answer to your twice an hour stretch. Pick one every week and practice it for 5-12 breaths on your activity breaks. Think Empty Coat Arms or Warrior I, 6 breaths on each side.
For your breathless activity, this sequence demonstrated by Dr. Mercola, complementary health expert is modifiable, easy to fit in and accessible to most:
While yoga can be modified for most purposes, remember that in yoga you never want to out-yoga your breath - always stay connected. That means that if you're doing your Sun Salutations as your "breathless" activity, you never want to push past optimum form (especially on the lower down) and your ability to match inhales to expansive movements and exhales to contractive ones.
Yoga is the backbone of my wellness routine - it meets the needs of my mind, body and spirit. But I complement it with HIIT spin sessions (30 minutes), kettlebells, this workout with Mercola and plenty of up and down hiking.
7 hours of physical activity a week sound like an impossible goal? Start with awareness of what is. Log your activity for a week as accurately as time allows. Part of what this study showed (also not a surprise, but now documented) is that we over estimate our activity and under estimate our sedentary time.
After a week of keeping track, look at your patterns. Are there days you could add more in? Are you surprised about when you are most sedentary? Are the activities balanced - for instance, do you need to add in breathless activity or are you more lacking in the frequent stretch breaks?
Pick one thing the next week to adjust or add or track. Increase your activity in increments of 10% until you're getting the 7 hours that our mobile elders reported in the years prior rockin' their bad selves and look forward to vibrant health for years to come!