What if there was one simple movement you could make—like waving a wand or snapping your fingers—which could erase years off your biological age?
A nearly magical move that could practically slow aging down to a crawl?
Wouldn’t you want in on it?
Well it turns out there is. And you’ve had access to it all along.
Research has shown simply getting up from your chair and moving can have a profound effect on your health.
I’ve shared studies with you before about the power of movement. Studies which revealed how being inactive can have serious health consequences.
Sitting causes damage to your DNA
In fact, experts say sitting can be as bad for you as smoking.
Like, for example, the study of older women which exposed that sitting too much isn’t just bad for you; it causes damage at the DNA level.
Researchers found women who were inactive for 10 or more hours a day, and didn’t get at least 40 minutes of movement, harmed the protective caps on their chromosomes.
And those shorter telomeres put them at higher risk for all kinds of chronic illnesses of aging such as heart disease.
Now researchers say they’ve discovered yet another consequence of our couch potato lifestyles. When you sit for hours on end binge watching your favorite television shows or surfing Facebook you could be causing brain damage.
Inactivity linked to brain damage
Located deep inside your brain, in an area called the medial temporal lobe, is your hippocampus. Long-term memories are created and stored in this seahorse shaped area.
In the new study scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, were able to link being sedentary to changes in the brain. Inactivity was associated with a thinning of the temporal lobe and a shrinking of the hippocampus.
In other words, time spent on your couch, sitting at your desk, or in the car can cause the kinds of brain damage we know is associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
And here’s the thing, you very well may think this doesn’t apply to you. After all, you don’t just sit around all day. You walk every day, run errands and visit with friends.
But think again. If you’re like most folks, your afternoons and evenings are far less active. After a busy day, you may feel like curling up in your favorite chair and watching TV, surfing the web or even reading for the rest of the day. And that means you may be spending far more time being inactive than you realize.
Take the study volunteers, for example. They reported being inactive for three to seven hours a day. That means they were up and moving the rest of the time. Yet for every hour they sat, tests showed the tell-tale thinning of the medial temporal lobe, in spite of how busy they were earlier in the day.
And this isn’t the first time researchers have made a connection between sitting and dementia. Earlier research found up to 21 percent of Alzheimer’s cases could be linked to inactivity.
In fact, experts say if we all just moved 10 percent more throughout the day, it could prevent a staggering 90,000 cases of Alzheimer’s. Bumping that up to 25 percent would slash 230,000 cases from the records.
3 ways to sneak in extra movement every day
Ready to save your own noodle from brain damage?
Following are three simple ways you can increase your activity throughout the day without even breaking a sweat.
1. Walk more:
By far the easiest way to bump up your activity is simply to walk more. And there are many opportunities to sneak in a few extra steps during the day.
When you’re out running errands, park the car further way from the door to the store, mall or post office. Instead of driving to the local coffee shop or a friend’s house for a visit strap on your walking shoes and take a stroll.
When you’re watching TV, every time a commercial come on get up and do a few laps around the living room. Or if you have a dog, why not take him for an extra walk? (Heck if you don’t have one, offer to walk your neighbor’s pooch.) And try taking the stairs occasionally, for goodness sake.
Are you stuck sitting at a desk all day? Think about switching to a stand up desk.
There’s no need to stand 100 percent of the time. That can be tough on your joints and concentration. But every hour or so try standing for 10 to 15 minutes.
Stand (and even pace if possible) every time you make a phone call. And who says you have to sit while watching television or a movie at home? Next time you click on a program on Netflix, try standing while you watch it. Toss in some arm circles while you’re at it.
3. Chair exercises:
Even when you’re sitting, you can sneak in some extra movement with some simple chair exercises.
The torso twist – Cross your arms in front. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Without lifting your feet or your hips, rotate your upper body as far as you can to the right. Inhale and exhale, then return to center. Now, repeat to the left. Try to sneak in 20 reps several times a day.
Leg lifts – Straighten your right leg at the knee, so it’s parallel to the floor. Hold for a count of 10 then lower your foot back to the floor. Repeat with your left leg. Alternate 10 times per leg, up to three times a day.
Chances are being sedentary is the number one worst thing you’re doing to harm your brain right now. And once your temporal lobe thins and your hippocampus shrinks there’s no going back.
So NOW is the time to make a change. Get up and make a move. You’ll be putting the brakes on aging and slash your risk of the kind of brain damage that is associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s at the same time.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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