Every Movement Counts to Help Prolong Life

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Even if you don’t have time for a full-fledged workout today, it is still vitally important to move around. Regular light physical activity can potentially reduce your mortality risk.

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Per CDC Recommendations, all adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.

Obviously, it would be great if you make time to participate in higher-intensity efforts that elevate the heart rate. The CDC guidelines state that minimally, we should strive for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. These can be broken up during the day into 10-minute long segments if needed – for example, a short walk during a lunch break can supplement a longer workout later in the evening to meet your daily goals.

But do not discount all of the other “running around” you may do during the day. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggests that women over the age of 65 can count chores and errands as a part of their “light” physical activity minutes for the day. Even this lower intensity movement can potentially reduce your risk of premature death.

Researchers with the University of California San Diego found that 30 minutes of light activity per day can lower mortality risk by 12 percent. Those that add in even more activity, such as bicycling or walking around the block for another 30 minutes, reduced their risk by 39%.

"Every movement counts," said Andrea LaCroix, PhD, senior author of the study. "We don't have to be running marathons to stay healthy. The paradigm needs to shift when we think about being active."

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Every day, we should strive to add in extra minutes of movement to our daily routines. Here are just a few simple suggestions:

In the morning:
• If you are not much of a morning person (as I am not), you can still start your day off right by setting the alarm just 10-15 minutes early for a little “me” time. Do some yoga, walk the dog, do some easy calisthenics in the living room. Just get the blood moving.
• If you do like to get up early, go out for a morning walk or run before the rest of the household wakes up. It is a great way to start your morning right.

At work:
• If you commute, you may consider parking away from your office building to get in a few extra minutes of walking. On an upper floor? Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
• Don’t skip your lunch break to work, but potentially get out and about for 10 minutes for a short walk.
• During the work day, walk around and talk to people instead of having phone meetings or sending emails. Set an alarm on your phone or watch to go off each hour to remind yourself to at the very least stand up and stretch.

In the evening:
• Take the dog for a walk instead of just letting her out in the yard.
• If the weather is nice, go for a family walk or play a game in the backyard.
• During commercial breaks, instead of staying on the couch, get up and move around.

On the weekends:
• Sleeping in a little is okay, but don’t waste the morning! Get up and go for a walk or set out to do those errands early while the crowds aren’t so bad.
• Space out chores so you are moving from one end of the house to another. It may be less “efficient”, but you will be getting in some good movement.
• Ask friends to get together for something active. You can join a local run for fun, go to a walking craft fair, go to a local park….the opportunities are endless.

Journal Reference:
Michael J. LaMonte, Andrea Z. LaCroix et al. Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity and Mortality in Women Aged 63 to 99. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15201

Additional Reference
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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