In my introductory blog I mentioned my grandparents and how I felt that their lives were quite similar to blue zone behaviours, My Grandmother cycled to work every day for 40 years, worked in a hospital laundry and was on her feet 8 hours a day, at the weekend she had a large garden and socially went dancing 2 to 3 times a week which would fit in with today’s guidelines around moderate activity. Her whole day was “busy”. Her sitting time was to eat, drink or making clothes and reading or playing games with us. The same with my Grandad, he walked to buy his newspaper every day, gardened and built amazing things out of wood in his shed; even in retirement he was up and busy pottering. I hardly ever saw them unhappy or stressed with daily life.
We all know that being active is important, but there is increasing evidence that we need to spend less time sitting down as well.
The link between illness and sitting for long periods first emerged in the 1950’s when researchers found that London bus drivers were twice as likely to have a heart attack as their bus conductor colleagues. In the 1970’s research carried out on the effect that zero gravity has on astronauts, linking it to accelerated bone and muscle loss and ageing. Sitting for long periods of time is thought to simulate although to a lesser degree the same affects as weightlessness does on astronauts. The last 50 years has seen huge changes with transportation use, communication, workplace environments and home entertainment. We drive to work to sit at a desk for 7 plus hours, drive home, and spend the evening in front of technology.
About five years ago I wrote a report on sedentary behaviour and at the time the average work age adult was sedentary for 8 hours, five years later further research has shown that this is more likely to be around 9.5 hours. Research shows that remaining seated for too long is bad for your health, regardless of how much exercise you do. So even if you have a static job but most of it is done standing the health risks are reduced. Studies have linked an increased risk of disease, it is thought to slow the body’s metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat. Sedentary behaviour does not include the time we spend sleeping.
For some of us we have a perception that being active incorporates finding precious time out of our day. Some of us are list creators of jobs we need to do, how many of us put on that list some time and activity for ourselves and if we did where would it be positioned on that list?
Exercise does not have to be structured, playing with your kids or your dog in the garden, going for a walk with them, all counts. I have noticed in our current situation how many more people are walking like it’s a privilege we hold close to us. I have a lady who lives round the corner from me and every day now I see her with her walking frame walk up the only hill we have in our town and back again. I can’t say that I ever saw her do this before, and it’s so lovely not only because she’s out walking but people notice her and wave or shout hello, we know she is OK.
Exercise and being active is so key for our health and well-being, and very little of it is to do with looking like an Olympic athlete, it’s about so much more;
It connects us to others
Supports our mental well-being
Prevents or reduces risks of the development of age-related illnesses, such as Dementia, Type 2 Diabetes, Osteoarthritis, prevents falls, cardiovascular related illnesses and some cancers.
Small steps are key and incorporating them into your daily life initially will build confidence in your ability to do more. Don’t discount a change, or make a comparison to others, see the positives of what you are trying to achieve. If I asked you to continually eat chocolate for 5 minutes every day this would have a detrimental effect on your health after a period of time, so flip the coin and realise that every 5 minutes of positive changes made will have an impact for the good of your health.
Our Move More Pathway’s goal is to support our service users to be able to achieve 150 mins of moderate activity per week which is based on government guidelines for adults. This indeed will help improve our health and well-being, particularly if you enjoy the chosen activities and they cover several aspects such as being outside, with others and allow our minds to switch off from daily stresses It is important to incorporate, daily movement and activities as the norm, our blue zone cousins do not have long blocks of sedentary behaviour within their day.
To find out more go to https://www.oneyoulincolnshire.org.uk/lincolnshire-residents
Lisa Dean, Lead Health Coach
April 22, 2020