How long have you been working from home?
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. If you are someone like Jack who is frustrated to hear about playing or getting your daily exercise then we must highlight to you the term ‘movement’.
Performing exercise is not a hardcore commitment that you must make. Not all physical activity needs to be taxing to your mental health.
Making your body move everyday can bring small positive changes to your body. It keeps your muscles flexible and strong while strengthening your bones. Inculcating an active lifestyle which incorporates small but effective movements in your routine will extend the quality of your life.
COVID-19 and lockdowns have had and are having significant impact on our ability to move around as we wish. The WFH(work from home) culture propagated by the pandemic has restricted us to the confines of our homes and sometimes for hours on end to a single chair.
This can have far-reaching repercussions and you need to stop doing so now!
Sedentary Lifestyle: In invitation to illness?
When people fail to have any physical activity and fail to meet the exercise recommendations by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), it is termed as a Sedentary lifestyle.
Globally, one in three women and one in four men don’t stay active enough to meet the fitness standard expected from them. The reasons for lack of participation in physical activity can be varied: environmental factors include traffic congestion, air pollution, shortage of parks, walkways, and a lack of sports facilities; human factors on the other hand include a poor lifestyle which may include browsing TV for hours on end, scrolling through social media, long hours of office work, or being lazy in general.
Insufficient physical inactivity is detrimental to health and affects the health of a large chunk of the global population.
“Sitting” from morning to dusk brings with it many health hazards. These are some of the direct or indirect consequences to a sedentary lifestyle:
One such direct consequence is the
- Increase in BMI, that is body, mass, index. An increased BMI leads to obesity.
As per Dr. Medhat Mikhael, specialist of pain management and the medical director of the Spine Health Centre (Memorial Care Orange Coast Medical Centre, California), sedentary behaviour and lifestyle leads to the:
- Development of back pain
- Weight gain
- Weakening of abdominal and back muscles
The atrophication of the abdominal and back muscles puts more stress onto the spine while also weakening the ligaments which causes increased back pain.As per WHO, 60 to 85% of the whole population does not engage in enough activity. Physical inactivity is one of the risk factors for global mortality. John Hopkins Medicine states that physical inactivity also contributes to the following health conditions:
- Anxiety and depression.
- Increased risk factor for certain cardiovascular diseases and likely to develop coronary heart disease.
- Overweight or obesity.
- Sitting too much causes a decrease in the mass of the muscle.
- High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.
Movement and Health
Movement is the first sign that we are alive and living. Any sacrifice, even excessive comfort, to our ability to move, whether natural or man-made, reminds us of the sickness we are adapting to.
In the past, the work culture allowed people to take breaks 2-3 times a day, but the fast-paced lifestyle focused on results has us glued to our seats with our eyes strained onto the screen for 5-6 hours on average and 10+ hours on a busy day.
With advances in technology and comfort, human lives have become more sedentary; however, this sedentary lifestyle comes at a cost: your physical and more often than not mental well-being. A little physical activity can not only keep you physically fit and active, it also acts as a therapeutic outlet to de-stress and refresh your mind by taking it off the day-to-day problems of your life.
Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert said: “We have a brain for one reason and one reason only – that’s to produce adaptable and complex movements. Movement is the only way we have affecting the world around us…I believe that to understand movement is to understand the whole brain. And therefore, it’s important to remember when you are studying memory, cognition, sensory processing, they’re there for a reason, and that reason is action.”
There is movement in life and stillness in death. Technology has made us sloths and slaves to laziness and lethargy. There’s no requirement to go out of our comfortable (read ‘lazy’) lives to include activities that promote movement. It can be something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or taking a walk when you are on long calls. These will make up for lack of physical activities and keep at bay a lot of ailments that come with a total sedentary lifestyle. We may move less, but humans are programmed to be engaged with the world through movements.
Movement and thoughts are intertwined. You may imagine that “thinking” lives in your head. But research shows that embodied cognition influences brain functions like processing information and decision making. We have areas in the brain completely dedicated to movement. The structure at the brain’s base, known as the cerebellum, controls balance, posture, coordination, and motor skills. So, physical activity is affected by our brain and thinking patterns and inversely our brain is affected by the level and scope of our physical activity. Its presence or lack thereof play a role in our emotional and mental well-being. More extensively, it helps
- Maintain existing brain structures,
- Slows down age-related mental decline,
- Reduces brain injury or inflammation,
- Lowers oxidative stress;
- Increases the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is involved in learning and memory.
You can make movement or physical activity more fun instead of making it a daily chore.
You can additionally set aside more time for your physical fitness by starting Yoga or Working out. Even taking out 30mins to an hour each day for this will astound you as you see the benefits piling up. This is especially true in the long term.
Yoga & Exercise: Health Benefits
Yoga and exercise run parallel. Both are equally helpful for the body in different ways. Yoga can be performed indoors. Practising exercise may require more open spaces for movement.
Yoga as well as exercise strengthens your balance as well as your flexibility. Deep breathing while flexing increases blood flow and warm up muscles, while holding a pose can build strength. Similarly, Working out makes your muscles work, strengthens them and burns calories.
Yoga is good for easing pain and improves mobility in people. It is often medicated as a treatment for chronic lower back pain. Additionally, yoga eases arthritis problems. Gentle stretches and poses reduce the discomfort of the swollen joints, according to a Johns Hopkins review. Regular yoga practice reduces levels of stress and helps you to sleep better.
Regular workout on the other hand decreases depression, anxiety, and stress and helps to maintain a healthy mood. It increases the production of endorphins, which helps to produce positive feelings and reduces pain perception. It has an overall therapeutic effect for both the body and the mind.
Yoga helps you to be more mindful, more self-aware. Exercise helps to maintain this mindfulness through core activities. Yoga redefines your body image. Exercise strengthens you from inside by maintaining solid muscles and bones. Lifting weights, for example, can stimulate muscle building when paired with adequate protein intake in your diet.
Yoga helps the body to be at peace. On the contrary, regular exercise increases your metabolic rate, burning more calories. The increase in body temperature during exercise is thought to improve sleep quality. 150 minutes of activity per week can provide 65% improvement in sleep quality as per studies.
Exercising daily along with yoga might also slow down the aging process! Your skin is also affected by the oxidative stress in your body. This damages the internal structures and deteriorates the quality of your skin. Consistent activity stimulates blood flow and induces skin cell adaptations that can help in delaying the appearance of skin aging.
Movement is Life
Anything can be a part of your daily physical fitness activity. Pick up hobbies such as going for walks whether in the morning or evening to keep your muscles active and your mind relaxed. Adding a short morning yoga routine in your schedule will keep you refreshed and ready for the day! Engaging in any of your hobbies that make you step out of your house and move around is another way to keep active. This could be swimming, running, tennis, basketball or simply playing around with your kids in the park.
Indulge yourself in any kind of sports that you like. Learning to dance is another efficient way to keep your muscles flexible.
Performing any form of exercise regularly improves every aspect of your health from the inside out. It increases the production of hormones, makes you feel happy, and helps you sleep better. It even improves your skin’s appearance! Movement, in this perpetually sedentary life, helps improve your mood, health and productivity. Your quality of life will improve in numerous ways if you regularly follow this practice.
The priority, in this blog, is to supply the reader with clear and unambiguous information. However, neither The New Me nor Gagan Dhawan makes promises, or guarantees regarding the completeness of the information found here. The content is not a replacement for advice of a licensed professional. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the writer’s.