I talked to one of my best friends from the U.S. this week. We were talking about things we were doing to make ourselves healthy and happy, and I mentioned working out. She told me that she had been working out, too, and here’s the crazy thing. She’d been having joint pain for several years now and didn’t know the cause. The doctor suggested it was because she sits in an officeall day and working out would make it go away.
First of all, this made me feel really old. Oh my god, we are already getting joint pain. What’s next? We’ll need a walker? When I told this story to another friend who is younger, she laughed and said, “No, haven’t you heard? Sitting at a desk all day is the new smoking.”
So I looked it up. Sure enough, sitting at a desk for eight hours a day then going home to sit in front of the television is killing more people than smoking or obesity. What?! I mean, I guess it made sense, but that’s scary. The good news is, only one hour of brisk walking or other form of exercise a day is enough to combat it. That’s good!
Unfortunately, not enough people are doing even that.
The modern world is a place where physical activity is a choice. We sit in a car to drive to the market; some markets will now deliver to your house so we don’t even have to leave the couch except to answer the door. We have drive-throughs for banks and fast food so we don’t even have to get out of the car to run simple errands. We pay bills online so we don’t even have to walk to the mailbox. We can shop online and have things delivered to our home. We sit at a desk and look at a computer screen all day. We do home and sit in front of a television. We are not active enough!
When I moved to Taiwan, I loved the fact that I was forced to walk more. I sat all the time in the U.S. since I had an office job. Even though I hate it when it rains, I feel better being forced to walk from my apartment to the MRT station or the bus stop. I have to walk to the grocery store or the market and walk back with all of my purchases. I walk when we go out to dinner, when I go to the hairdresser, or when I want to visit new places. I only take a taxi cab if I’m running late, I’m dressed up, or I’m tired. I’m also teaching so I walk more during the day.
Now, I did go to the gym in the U.S. but not every day. I know I was one of those people who did not get enough DAILY exercise. I go to the gym here but not every day. But I get way more than an hour of walking here every day. And I feel great. I have added the machines for my arms because I never use those muscles, and I am in the “over 40” age bracket, but I am outdoors more here than I ever was in the U.S.
And it makes me happy!
There are people who cannot move much because of health issues. When I got sick last year, I could barely walk. It was awful, and I hated it. I realized how lucky I was that I could move and walk and jump and climb. If you are one of the lucky ones, appreciate and utilize your body.
Don’t take it for granted that you can walk because sitting too much damages your health, and there are people who would love to take your place!
No matter where you live, make sure you get out and move as often as possible. If you
have children, take your children with you. They need to move as
well. This is not just a problem for adults but children as well. Not only is moving important for the human body, but it decreases depression and increases a sense of community.
If you are not already – please get out, make friends, walk around, step away from the electronic devices – and enjoy the world we live in. I promise, you will feel better in every possible way.