No sooner had I clicked send on my last email to you – demonstrating the strong link between eating whole grains and longevity – when this gem popped up in my news feed.
It seems that just when I submit my book manuscript, another study emerges that I hope I’m going to be able to get a chance to go back in and reference.
This time, the news is about how much impact you can have on your health simply by putting one food in front of the other for a few minutes each day.
Ah, the simple tools for creating a vibrant life: the synergistic strength of a whole foods plant-based diet with simple physical activity.
Forget about cutting 10,000 words from The Plant-Based Journey. I need to add them. This just in.
Does a short daily walk trump your BMI when it comes to reducing health risk?
The study, published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, analyzed data from 334,161 European men and women who participated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study.
They discovered that twice as many deaths may be attributable to lack of physical activity in comparison to the number of deaths attributable to obesity.
Apparently even a modest increase in physical activity can deliver significant health benefits.
We keep learning more about how too much sitting is hazardous to your health, and that physical inactivity has been consistently associated with an increased risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancer as well as being associated with an early death.
Yet putting specific numbers on the benefits of walking and simply sitting less is good news because it gives us specifics that we can sink our teeth into.
20 minutes of walking a day
Looking at participants’ data over 12 years, they found that a daily 20-minute walk could reduce the risk of premature death by 16 to 30 percent.
To measure the link between physical inactivity and premature death, and its interaction with obesity, researchers analysed data spanning an average of 12 years.
Researchers discovered that the greatest reduction in risk of premature death occurred in the comparison between inactive and moderately inactive groups.
By combining activity at work – the kind of light activity similar to that expended with household chores – with recreational activity, subjects were classified as inactive or moderately active.
The authors concluded that participating in physical activity equivalent to twenty minutes of walking each day would jump an individual from the inactive to moderately inactive group.
This resulted in the reported sixteen-to=thirty percent premature death risk reduction.
True, the greating impact was detected among subjects of normal weight, but even those with elevated BMI – body mass index – experienced benefit.
Rating a BMI greater than thirty as obese, researchers estimated that 337,000 of the 9.2 million deaths among European women and men were attributable to obesity, yet double this number of deaths (676,000) could be due to physical inactivity.
Can you be healthy at any size?
The risks of obesity as precursor to diabetes and other disease – not to mention quality of life with ease of getting around (being more physically active!) are always going to be important considerations.
But perhaps this news will add fresh inspiration to those discouraged about exercising while still struggling with weight.
It can only help to sit less and move more – not only for what it does for your brain inspiring physical confidence and boosting functionality of the command center of your brain – (see 5 minute willpower workout #1: Exercise, the closest thing to a willpower magic bullet) – but because of its clear implications for living a longer life.
Lead research author Ulf Ekelund from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge said,”This is a simple message: just a small amount of physical activity each day could have substantial health benefits for people who are physically inactive,” as reported in The Huffington Post.
How does twenty minutes of walking a day measure up against your current activity levels?
Even if broken into smaller bits of time in the form of intermittent exercise you will experience benefits.
Success is built on microchanges, one after another
If you aren’t already getting in a daily walk, start by making micro changes from your current level of activity.
From zero to an hour every day is a prescription for failure; to progress from a walk or two a week to three times a week to seven days a week? There’s a plan. Here are some more tips:
- Back build a plan for successful daily walking with whatever it is you need to make it happen: appropriate footwear and clothing, and in a convenient place.
- Get support with a walking buddy, an online group, or your faithful canine.
- And tell me about your plan in comments below. Taking a stand this way sets an intention – and intention needs to take place before you can have follow through.
My body is completely hooked on a daily walk. If I am stuck in an airplane, a snow storm, or some other similar obstruction, I feel the drop physically and mentally. I’ve built the practice of putting one foot in front of another so consistently that it works for me. My first order of business each morning, after my morning hot cuppa, is to lace up and meander through the woods.
How are you getting in regular walking? Neighborhood? Gym? Or is your plan still pending?
Tell me about it – or your thoughts and plans about how to implement – in comments below.
Hey there, Lani! Happy New Year!
2015 is my year to regain my healthy self!! Hip is doing much better since finding and seeing a personal Pilates coach in Chico (who happens to have the exact scoliosis body as mine) on a weekly basis (with daily personally specific prescribed exercises I do FAITHFULLY!). Plus my healthy diet consists (in a large degree) of greens from my winter veggie garden! Also enjoying more of Bob’s Red Mill whole grains (after a tour of his mill while in Portland over the holidays). Try the super simple bread recipe on the bag of his Artisan Bread Flour! Walking and biking! On the move! Hope you and Greg have a great year! xo Peggy 🙂
Happy new year to you too! I have been concerned about your hip and am so glad that you are doing better. What a dream to find the coach-match! And I have no doubt you are doing your p.t. daily. I have such respect for physical therapy – it makes all the difference.
You went to the Bob’s Red Mill factory? Wow, I didn’t know you could, that sounds like great fun! I’ll check out the Bread recipe next time I’m at S n S.
I envy your garden greens stash. We used to garden up here years ago but it was a never-ending chore to keep the soil built up, the rabbits and deer out, and over the years the trees on the horizon have blocked more sun and plowing down the forest is not our intention. So we have pine needles, oak leaves, and supermarket greens.
We’ve been biking a lot too – finally acquired mountain bikes last summer and we are addicted to riding the flumes above DeSabla just about every day! We check on the osprey next, count the newts out for a walk, and even encountered a rare Mountain Beaver! A scientist from the Smithsonian who lives up here said it is the first official sighting in Butte County. Here’s video if you’d like to see:
Always love your updates and hearing from you Peggy!
WOW you never fail to inspire me! Just this tidbit of news has got me inspired to get up from my computer and head out the door. Just 20 minutes?
Is your new book then going to have exercise too? Or is it mostly about plant-based eating? It sounds like it’s going to be an amazing book.
Love it when you post.
Excellent – what more could I ask for other than you be inspired to move?
In The Plant-Based Journey I underscore and reference heavily the value of physical activity for the very important role it plays in healthy lifestyle change. Simple movement builds the neuroplasticity needed when transitioning into healthier living – which includes making healthier food choices – and cornerstone to transformation. Did that answer your question? The exercise portion of the book is not specific exercises, but the value of movement, obstacles to exercise, and specific strategies for change.
Thanks so much for your comments today, they mean a lot to me!
What can a person do if they have no treadmill, no gym membership and the weather does not permit outdoor walking? Can stairs in a two story house work?
Here’s what I’ve done in similar situations – stuck inside in snowstorm, for example. I’ll start with Super Shaper Split Squats. Here is an instructional video for you from my Fit Quickies college course:
This can be followed by five minutes of step-ups on an old riser I have – the kind you use in a step aerobics class. I’ll do this a couple more times during the course of the day – remember, breaking up cardio very effective for getting the goods from the activity – PLUS it breaks up sedentary time!
Climbing stairs and even the step-aerobics box is more challenging than a walk or a run, so pace yourself accordingly. If you get too winded quickly with the challenge, try it in 1 – 2 minute stretches and work up to 3 – 5.
Let me know how it goes and stay cozy! Where are you located?
More great news! I live in Europe now and don’t really need a car, so I walk everywhere that’s not far enough to require public transport. On work days it’s brisk 20 minutes to the train station, another 15 to and from work, plus 7-10 hours on my feet at my job. Days off I trek to the grocery store or take a walk just to explore.
I’ve always wondered if I should be ‘working out’ on top of this, but I really do feel like it keeps me in excellent shape as is.
Emma, built in fitness! The best kind. Where in Europe are you?
I sent you an email yesterday – did you receive?
I live in N Minnesota now, and your suggestions for what to do in a snowstorm are helpful. I try to strap on snowshoes or ice cleats every day to get outside–but some days the bitter cold and dark make it almost impossible. After sitting all day at a desk, winter days are a challenge to get some activity in. Thanks for your encouragement. Janet
That’s great news! I admire the snowshoes and ice cleats – wow! That’s what it takes and I am glad to see you are up to the challenge. I keep my cross-country skiis handy for this kind of occasion around here – looks like you have built in lots of options.
Thanks so much for sharing!
I live in So. Cal. so we have year round Farmer’s Fields where non-sprayed vegs. are grown & available year round so found it easier to just buy from them than grow my own. Also more economical since water is high here. Due to a pinched nerve in my back I’ve had to resort to the treadmill at the gym. I find it tedious and boring to being outdoors so devised a system to make it work. I prepare a healthy drink that is appealing to me. Every 10 mins. At even numbers. I take a drink. On odd nos. I’ll check my heart rate, maybe change my pace or incline. By doing this, every five mins. I have a “chore” to perform and I’m amazed how fast my 60 mins. goes by and for me that’s two miles. I need to keep moving for 60 mins. Distance wasn’t the object. I had to start with just 20 mins. and each week added another five mins. to be able to even do this. May sound silly to some, but determined to keep moving and it works for me.
What a clever solution to your predicament – on many levels! I honor your determination to make it happen – indoors as needed – and then devising a plant to make it more doable. Not silly at all – THESE re the microchanges that move life forward. For that reason especially I appreciate that you shared this today. If more of us would ‘get’ that it’s tiny shifts like this that make our higher aspirations dobable, everyone would be having breakthroughs.