These days, we know how important it is to be physically active to stay healthy as long as possible and prevent cardiovascular disease. Experts are unanimous that exercise is the best medicine and has many beneficial effects: it reduces pain, strengthens the immune system, prevents depression, releases wellbeing hormones, stimulates the memory, improves cardiovascular capacity, strengthens the skeleton, regulates high blood pressure, reduces the risk of diabetes, protects against cancer and improves sleep. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week (30 min./day, five times per week) or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity (15 min./day, five times/week), as well as two muscle-strengthening activities per week. A moderate intensity activity is one where you can still have a conversation while you’re exercising. Being physically active doesn’t erase the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle. You might be surprised to learn that being sedentary means sitting for an average of at least seven hours per day. To minimize the negative effects, we need to get up and move for a few minutes at least once every two hours. A worrying trend has been observed recently: women are becoming less physically active! In France in 2015, only 52.6% of adult women got the amount of physical activity recommended by the WHO, compared to 62.5% in 2006. This decrease is especially notable in women aged 40 to 54. Meanwhile, the proportion of physically active adult men went from 63.9% in 2006 to 70.4% in 2015. Women and men today spend an average of six hours and thirty-five minutes per day doing sedentary activities. The time women spent in front of a screen outside working hours has significantly increased: from 2.7–3.3 hours per day in 2006 to 4.7–5.4 hours per day in 2015. Twenty-two percent of women are both sedentary and physically inactive, compared to 17% of men. (Esteban Santé Publique France study, 2017) Getting exercise isn’t just about playing sports. It’s also about keeping our bodies in motion whenever we can during the day. Consider walking, riding your bike or taking public transportation to work. Stay standing when riding public transportation. Get off the bus one stop early to walk a bit. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Stand up while talking on the phone. Put your recycling bin on the other side of your office. Park down the street further away from your house.
Your goal? Get in the habit of moving instead of sitting down.