It’s the beginning of a new year and time to make our New Year’s resolutions. What single change will give you the biggest benefit for improving your health?
I found a video lecture that makes a good pitch for exercise. It’s called “23-1/2 Hours” by Dr Mike Evans, a physician and professor at U of Toronto. Watch it here (it’s fun and only 9 minutes).
Evans shows how exercise can help in so many different aspects of our health. Studies have shown exercise reduces:
• 47% pain & disability with arthritis of the knee
• 58% development of diabetes of those at high risk
• 30-47% symptoms of depression, depending on amount of exercise
• 41% risk of hip fractures in post menopausal women
• 23% risk of death in the large Harvard alumni study.
In a study of 50,000 people, Stephen Blair of U of South Carolina, found that low cardio-respiratory fitness was the single best predictor of death (hypertension was a close second). He also found that exercise “ameliorated much of the negative consequences of obesity” (which means being fat is not so bad if you keep fit).
An Australian study found that people who watch 6 hours of TV a day live, on average, 5 years less than those who watch none (Canadian adults average just over 4 hours). A Japanese study comparing commuting time (walking) and hypertension found that up to 10 minutes made no difference, 11-21 minutes reduced the incidence by 12%, and over 20 minutes reduced it by 29%.
So if exercise is the best medicine, what’s the dose? More is better, but the rate of return delines after 30 minutes per day (60 minutes for children). Evans ends with the challenge to limit our sitting and sleeping to 23+1/2 hours a day.
My paper route gives me an hour of walking 6 days a week, but when the alarm goes off at 6 am I can’t help but wonder if the benefits make up for losing 2 hours of sleep!
This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.