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IT'S HOW YOU MOVE - Part 7

“We all have a chair in our home, we all have a bed, we all have a sofa. That's really all you need. I've done exercises on chairs, including pushups. You can pick up the chair, you can curl with it, and you can do squats. Or how about just standing up on your own two feet and doing jumping jacks, pushups, or sit-ups?”

More exercise pros are getting away from workouts that require elaborate machines and focusing on what they call functional movements. Diane's trainer Andy DeVito used that approach to help her recover from hip replacement surgery and improve her fitness. “The philosophy is based on getting your body to move and work in ways that it was meant to, like climbing, crawling, pushing heavy objects; things that humans were designed to do,” Andy explains. “A lot of the workouts we do simulate those movements and functions of the human body. We've stopped doing these activities because we're sitting at a desk all day.”

Sitting turns out to be dangerous not only to our weight-loss efforts, but to our health, so that's another powerful argument for moving. An Australian study, based on twelve hundred participants, found that after age twenty-five, every hour of television you watch reduces your life expectancy by nearly twenty-two minutes.

 So if you watch six hours of TV a day, you'll take about five years off your life. That's actually worse than the impact of smoking cigarettes, according to the report. And it's not the TV that hurts you, it's the sitting.

Other studies have confirmed the correlation between sitting and premature death.

 The science is new here, and we're still not sure exactly why sitting for long periods is so harmful. One theory is that surplus “fuel” builds up in the body when we don't use the large muscles in our legs, because processes needed to break down fats and sugars slow down or shut off, and blood sugar levels rise as a result. We know that the average person burns 60 more calories an hour when standing than sitting. We need to do more research to really understand what's going on, but I'm alarmed by the findings.

Personally, I can't stand still, so this actually isn't much of an issue for me, but if you spend most of your work day at your desk, think about a few ideas for mixing it up. Stand up while you're making phone calls, keep the trash can on the opposite side of the office, walk around during your coffee breaks. Small changes add up and can make a big difference, both to your weight and to your lifespan.

Getting Americans moving again begins with the decisions each of us makes as an individual. But it doesn't stop there. And that's the topic we'll discuss next.

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