The Importance of “Non-Exercise” Activity

It’s difficult to refute the mass amount of evidence out there that tells us to exercise for better health. Scientists have been studying the effects of exercise for decades, and have always come up with a similar answer: regular exercise leads to a healthier life. Health professionals advise patients to eat a balanced diet and get regular physical activity. There are even national and international guidelines pertaining to how much physical activity we should get per week or day. Regular moderate-to-intense exercise has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, Type II diabetes, and even some cancers. Exercise strengthens muscles and bones, and increases the overall chances of living longer.

We read this advice in articles and books. We hear about it on TV, the radio, etc. So we get our gym memberships, and we commit to 3-4 days per week of moderate-to-intense activity. But what about the rest of the day? Should we sit around and recover because we put it all out there in last night’s WOD, or should we move at every chance we get?

Not surprisingly, the latter is significantly more beneficial. Getting up and moving throughout the day, even if you don’t consider it “exercise”, has major health benefits when compared to a more sedentary state of being. Recently, I read an article pertaining to a study conducted by researchers from the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences that supports this theory. The study, which looked at almost 4,000 men and women over the age of 60, found that participants who reported more activity daily (“non-exercise” activity, that is) lived longer and were less likely to have a heart attack or heart-related event than those who reported less daily activity. The study continued on to say that regular exercise paired with daily non-exercise activity led to the lowest risk profiles across the board.

For many of us (myself included), sitting is what we do for a living. By going to the gym in the evenings we are combating the negative effects of a sedentary daily life – but is that enough? I would say probably not.

Try to get more activity in during the day, no matter what your state of being currently is. Take a walk at lunch, park far away from buildings. Set an alarm that reminds you to perform 10 air squats every hour, or walk to the farthest break area to refill your water bottle. Do what you can to be active throughout the day. Not only will you recover from your intense CrossFit workouts more quickly and completely, but you’ll be ensuring that you’re doing one more thing to better your chances of living forever. With something as important as our health and well-being, it’s worth the extra effort. Get up, get moving!

Karen Southwick