I remember seeing a sign in the rehab center I worked in shortly after I graduated, which was conspicuously positioned on the wall so that all patients could see. I appreciated the signs then and have always remained fond of these words. Over the years I’ve come to like many adages, but “motion is lotion” always seemed to resonate with me because if it’s simplicity and strong reinforcement of what we as physical therapists always try to promote. Movement really is the fundamental element that brings us to a healthier and disease free life. In fact, the Center for Disease Control lists a sedentary lifestyle as 1 of the 4 modifiable risk factors that lead to preventable disease, along with smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and a poor diet. Hippocrates, eloquently said: “Motion is life.” To hackney the point even more, the new buzz phrase is “sitting is the new smoking.”
What science has now definitely proven is that the lack of movement, sitting per se, has a number of ill effects on the body. So much to the point that, even the daily dosage of daily exercise doesn’t undue the ill effects of prolonged sitting.
Beyond the countered effects of going to the gym after a full day of sitting include deep vein thrombosis, obesity, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, depression, muscle weakening, a slowed metabolism and a host of spine conditions like neck and low back pain that are debilitating and can affect productivity at work.
I often advise my patients to get up periodically throughout the hour about 2-3 times and stretch with the arms pointed towards the ceiling driving the hips forward. The point is that we must interrupt these prolonged periods of sitting. Going to the water cooler or walking to the bathroom is an interruption. I personally have a standing desk that is mounted to the wall, which is where I place my lap top. One patient of mine went as far as rigging a standing desk computer to a treadmill. I think that is great so as long as productivity remains high. Adults should exercise 75-150 minutes weekly with a lower intensity at the high end mark of minutes and the reverse with the low end of minutes.
Another way to stay active is taking the stairs whenever possible, assembling a walking group during the lunch hour and parking in the deepest corner of the parking lot to accumulate extra steps.
Bottom line, let’s stay moving. Avoid excessive sitting and remain as active during the day as possible. Remember motion is lotion!