Get Up - A Lot!

Categories: Blog, blog Oct 26, 2020

You’ve probably heard that you can’t out exercise a bad diet. Well, what may be more accurate than that is that you can’t out exercise an unhealthy lifestyle. I know that sounds like a paradox. 


“If I exercise, can I have an unhealthy lifestyle?” 


Well, yeah. 


What is an unhealthy lifestyle? I guess it could be a buffet of things including activity levels, to eating habits, to thought patterns, to hygiene.


But for today, and for the rest of your life, let’s look at a sedentary lifestyle as an unhealthy lifestyle. 


I recently got to talk with Dr. Joan Vernikos. She is the former Director of NASA’s Life Science division. She has conducted tons of research on the aging effects of being in Space. In Zero Gravity, the human body ages 10 times faster than it normally would. While at NASA, Dr. Vernikos also discovered that being sedentary, in bed or a chair, had the same effects on the body as being in Space. In other words, her research found that what ages the body is not moving: living in chairs. 


She also found that exercise does very little to stop the aging process IF a person continues on to live a sedentary lifestyle. For example, an hour of exercise cannot overcome or reverse the consequences of 8 hours in a chair. 


The reason for this is that the body is designed to move - a lot.


Dr. Vernikos says sitting still or lying in bed for hours is like silence to the nervous system, it’s just like being in Zero Gravity. With that silence, there is no vestibular system stimulation, there is no use, no demand, no ask placed on the body. And so, it ages at a more rapid rate. Blood vessels lose their elasticity, triglycerides elevate, inflammation builds, reflexes deteriorate, coordination fades, balance goes away, joints degrade, etc. 


BUT, all of this can be reversed or prevented with simply moving often throughout the day. Dr. Vernikos ran experiments and found that simply getting up from a chair every 30 minutes prevented and reversed the long lasting effects of aging. Remember, exercising did not do this. 

Shockingly, she also discovered that simply getting up often reversed the aging process better than walking did. That’s not to say walking wasn’t beneficial, but that something “easier,” like just standing often (getting up from a chair and stimulating the vestibular system) was just as effective as going for a walk in preventing and reversing aging. 


It’s about moving often. It’s not about standing. Standing for long periods of time also creates a type of silence, it’s static and it still has deteriorating effects. It’s about activating the vestibular system, changing postures, often to make some “noise” in the vestibular system to let the nervous system know it is needed. 


If you ask the body for something, it will give you what you want. Moving often is asking the body to have the ability to always be able to move. If you don’t ask the body for anything it will give you that, too. 


You’re body is designed to last a lifetime with good health, and you are meant to enjoy all your years. One of the easiest ways you can help ensure you can always enjoy your body is to move often. That means if you sit a lot, take two to three minute standing breaks every thirty minutes, or even every sixty minutes. Let your body know you want to keep it by moving often. You don’t just have to get up and stand, you can also be creative and let your joy come out. Get up and dance, go for a walk, stretch and smile (feels AH-mazing), go for a 10 step crawl, shoot Nerf Basketball in your office for 2 minutes, etc. 


The point is, a sedentary lifestyle is an unhealthy lifestyle. It ages you and robs you of your ability to live your life well. But you can choose to be healthy and live your life well, with joy, by simply moving often throughout the day. It can be as simple as standing up, taking a reaching stretch and smiling for a minute or so, every 30 to 60 minutes. 


Yes, it is crazy enough to work. 


Are you adventurous enough to try it? 

Comments (2)

  1. Kokaro:
    Dec 14, 2020 at 04:36 PM

    Great article. I like such an approach between mma and strength training it's an opponent relax as I have a gentle habit taken from heavy mma workouts that automatically when I'm going to exercise my heart rate increases and the muscles contract just prepare for a fight. But during these mini trainings I maintain a slow pulse, deep breathing, control of movement and after exercise I am usually more charged with energy and calmer than when I started. By the way, since the gyms are currently closed and the weather outside is not the best, I had to stop running but I need to at least maintain or increase endurance. I ran for an hour every morning, so I got a fine crazy idea. Every morning, change the hour of running for an hour of getting up from the ground. How about it, Tim? It's a good idea but is there any other similar "marathon style functional movement" to increase endurance?


    1. Tim Anderson:
      Dec 14, 2020 at 05:13 PM

      I like your idea. I think i'd vary it a bit like:
      10 minutes of Jump Rope
      10 minutes of getups from back
      10 minutes of burpees

      That's just one way I may approach it.

      Another might be
      10 minutes of leopard crawl
      10 minutes of bodyweight getups from back
      10 minutes of jumprope
      all with lips taped shut

      I love your thought process!


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