Ninety-year-old Karen taught me the secret to a healthy life. When I first met Karen, she looked so young I thought she was in her seventies. I asked for her secret to the fountain of youth and she told me —
I’m a moving couch potato. I rest for a bit, then get up and move, rest after that and get up and move, then rest and move throughout my day until I go to bed for my final rest of the day.
Her teaching was so profound! At the time I didn’t know it was science. I do now and I’m going to share it all with you.
But first the bottom line…
To take really, really good care of yourself you’ve got to move! It’s been proven that being a couch potato (the researchers call it stagnation) produces severe negative health consequences in the human body. It actually causes a tenfold increase in the rate of the aging processes.
Yup, you sit around — you deteriorate! You move you become healthy, alive, and ageless. So be a moving couch potato. Do this week’s Ageless Movement Practice to optimize your health.
Here’s the science people
The Cooper Clinic in Dallas performed an observational study. They tracked the correlation between sitting and increased risk of mortality. It found that out of 7,700 men, those who spent over 10 hours per week driving in a car or had 23 hours of combined sedentary behavior experienced 82 and 64 percent increases, respectively, in their risk of death by cardiovascular disease.
Did you get that — an 82-64 percent increase in their risk of death by heart disease. That’s huge!! If that doesn’t get you out of your chair and moving??
Maybe this will — more Science
We now turn to the work of Dr. Joan Vernikos to further understand the importance of movement. Dr. Vernikos was hired by NASA in 1964. She is known for her research on the way human physiology interacts with gravity.
What Dr. Vernikos discovered over the course of her NASA career is that the stagnation from the microgravity of space results in rapid aging. As I said earlier, a tenfold increase in the rate of the processes associated with aging.
On Earth, Dr. Vernikos used head-down bed rest (HDBR) studies to simulate the anti-gravity environment for study. What she and her team found is the cardiovascular changes experienced in HDBR studies are identical to those experienced in space.
The effects included changes in bone density, muscle stiffness, and circadian rhythm disruption. Also, loss of muscle mass decreased insulin sensitivity and inhibited calcium absorption.
So get outta bed and off the couch!!
When you go inert with depression or grief or life just handing you challenges. YOU are hurting yourself. Get up! Get moving to be healthy!
YOU are worth it, And the more you move the better you’ll feel and the more you’re going to want to move.
Move your beautiful bod, stretch it, roll it on balls and noodles, sway your hips, shake your booty, breath it, walk it! Sit down again and read this.
More science —
In another NASA study, three groups of men were given head-down bed rest. One group stayed in the bed-rest position all day. A second group stood for 15 minutes every hour, for a total of four hours of standing per day. The third group got up and walked for fifteen minutes every hour, for a total of four hours of activity a day.
The researches concluded that Standing for 4 hours prevented the negative effects which they call decreases in post-HDBR orthostatic tolerance. The group that walked four total hours per day in 15-minute increments saw no negative effects at all. NO decreases in post-HDBR orthostatic tolerance.
Sooooo stand up every hour and move.
Similarly, NASA observed that astronauts who exercised throughout the day in space returned in better physiological condition than those who trained for two to four hours all at once.
What?? There go all the power practices out the window! Time to move throughout your day. Don’t wait to get to that power yoga class, go for your run, Zumba or lift weights at the end of your day. Get up now and shake your body out! Feel that healthy body of yours.
I watch my dog, Lola and she sleeps A LOT! But in between, she gets up and shakes and stretches, walks around sniffing things, runs and lies down again.
To make this really simple getting up every hour that you sit or lie down during the day will break your pattern of stagnation. AND best of all reduce the negative health effects in a way that one or more solid hours of exercise does not.
You sit, you get up, you sit, you stretch, you sit, you walk
To combat the effects of sitting, stand up. Dr. Vernikos found that the most effective method for recovering from or preventing the negative effects of stagnation is to simply stand up and move. Often, throughout your day. She recommends standing up from a sitting position every 30 minutes, or approximately 32 times per day. Why?? She explains it:
“The change in posture triggers the brain balance and vestibular systems and causes redistribution of blood throughout the body. This, in turn, stimulates blood pressure sensors in the heart and neck to maintain healthy blood supply to the brain as you stand.
The importance of standing lies in the consistent changing of posture throughout the entire day.
So if you want to be healthy
Do your 30-minute Ageless Movement Practice in the morning and take a few of the stretches to do between sitting throughout your day. That way you’ll optimize your health!
Do Standing Yoga Push-ups to keep you strongly moving!
Come to stand in front of a chair or table top with your feet inner hip width apart, press into the outer edges of your heels, bring your ribs in and down, roll your inner arms out, and squeeze your scapula together creating back cleavage.
Take your hands onto the table or seat of the chair lined up even with your shoulders. Make sure your feet are under your hips. Exhale and draw your elbows in toward one another and down toward the tabletop or seat of the chair. Inhale up, exhale down and continue for the count of ten or more.
Yoga push ups will give you upper body and arm strength.
In Karen’s words, Be a moving couch potato! Let me know how your moves are making you feel in the comments below!