For many of us, life can become very slow, and predictable. You get up, have breakfast, perhaps a cup of tea, then sit and watch TV until lunch, then more TV until dinner, finished with TV and bed. Does this sound familiar? Perhaps with only 2 or 3 cups of drink. And then when you get to bed, sleep is poor, you wake early and it all starts again.
The reasons for this activity are often factors which we can’t influence – increasing age, illness that makes us less active, perhaps an increase in weight, depression associated with being out of work, or a change in life situation or circumstance. But that doesn’t mean we have to let it continue in this way.
First of all, let’s look at the effect this immobility is having on your health.
If all the walking you are doing is from your armchair to the kitchen, or the bathroom, perhaps 5 times a day, that adds up to about 100 metres (or yards in old money) – perhaps 100 steps? Compared to the recommended 10,000 steps the Government suggests, this is a tiny amount. This body we have been given is designed to walk, move, and stretch, but it can only manage this if we keep it moving. Imagine the garden gate that isn’t opened very often – how stiff is it when you decide to try and open it? But if you open it every day, the movement is smoothed, and more able. (although it might still squeak!)
Our joints are similar to this; by moving and stretching, we help our joints to make synovial fluid, which oils them, and ensures they move more efficiently. Our muscles need to be used, in order for them to keep their strength, or they weaken, and we fatigue more.
And then there’s your mood – there is strong evidence that demonstrates that moving about is beneficial to your wellbeing. And if your mood is better, life seems better, and the TV is slightly less interesting.
I’d also like to mention the effect that not drinking much can have. Many sedentary people are dehydrated, as they are afraid to drink as it then makes them need the toilet, which means more moving, so is avoided. By being dehydrated, urine infections are more common, and these can make you really ill. If you increase your fluids, just by one extra glass a day, you will improve your health. Your memory will be better, your skin will be smoother, your digestion will be more efficient. As to needing the toilet more, then yes, initially, that might be the case. But by gradually increasing your fluids, you will stretch your bladder, and so allow more urine to be stored there, and you will end up having less trips to the bathroom, but bigger volume.
In my next blog, I will look at simple ways we can increase our activity, and so make us feel better.