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Living Fit: Every step leads you in the right direction to better health

Sharon McGoff
July 17, 2013
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mcgoffFor years, the focus on health has been to get 30 minutes of exercise a day, five to seven days a week. However, no thought was given to how we spent the rest of our day. That is, until several very large studies conducted over the past few years revealed that all people (even exercise enthusiasts who work out one to two hours every day), have a high incidence of ill health and dying from all causes IF the rest of their day is sedentary. WHAT? You mean that my daily hour of morning sweat is not going to keep me from an earlier-than-average-age death? Preposterous! Yet the evidence is clear – no matter what we do for our daily exercise (or not), we must be more mobile throughout our day if we are going to enjoy good health.

The problem is less than 20 percent of jobs require physical movement or exertion, and we are spending more and more time at the office. Face it, in the legal profession, unless you are truly chasing ambulances, you sit almost all day. In fact, some reports show that 23 out of 24 hours of the average working adult’s day is spent either sitting down or lying down. We sit to eat, drive, work, watch TV, talk, order food from our cars, email and surf the Web. We lie down to sleep, nap, watch TV, work on the computer and de-stress. Since 1965, sedentary time outside of work has increased by 40 percent. THINK about THAT! Do you recall you or your parents lifting the garage door to drive the car in; cutting your own grass; riding your bikes or walking to sports practice, school, neighbors’ and friends’ homes, or the store?

Of course, we all know that a sedentary lifestyle leads to heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, muscle stiffness, poor balance, depression, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, lung disease, weight gain, lethargy, and back, neck and hip pain. But we are largely (pun intended) unaware that exercise alone will not eliminate the health risks associated with too much sitting. We must get off our rear ends! It’s plain and simple, yet so hard to do in our hectic professional and personal lives.

livefit-factbox.gifThe solution: Take at least 10,000 steps a day. Studies have shown over and over again that taking 10,000 steps a day will provide modest weight loss, improved glucose intolerance, decreased BMI, decreased blood pressure, decreased stress, increased productivity, increased state of mind/happiness, increased muscle tone and better sleep. In fact, in one small study of great significance, researchers studied a group of men who typically walk 10,000 steps a day and asked them to reduce their steps to only 1,350 steps each day. They took elevators instead of stairs, drove to work and lunch instead of walking – all the stuff we typically do in our daily lives, right? Well, after just two measly weeks, they found the men’s bodies had become worse at metabolizing sugars and fats, and their distribution of body fat began to migrate toward their midsection – after just two weeks! It makes you wonder what’s going on inside your body, doesn’t it?

The good news: To reap the health benefits of taking 10,000 steps a day, the walking does not have to be prolonged or vigorous as long as it’s sprinkled throughout your day and consistent. Oh, but you say there is no time in your day to be active and walk? Yes, there is. Get creative, change your habits and think outside the box you’ve stuffed yourself into for too long. Did you know that by replacing sedentary TV time with active time, you could lose 50 pounds a year? Imagine the positive impact on your health and happiness!

How to begin? Just move and be consistent! It takes 21 days to establish a habit. Banish elevators, escalators and people movers from your life; walk to lunch; park further out every time you park your car; march in place when watching TV during commercials; take a quick walk around the block before taking your morning shower; pace while talking on the phone; schedule walking meetings; take a 15 minute catch-up walk with your partner after work; walk with your children and listen to their music with them; listen to a book on tape while walking; take part in an active volunteer project; cut your own grass; wash dishes by hand with the entire family. At work, enlist the help of your most active employees or co-workers to start a 10,000 steps a day contest – collectively see how far you and your co-workers can walk over the next three months. If you walk 10,000 steps a day (a 4.7 mile-average), you will have walked 1,716 miles in a year. In essence, you will have single-handedly walked to San Diego, Calif. What a feat, or is that feet? This work contest will engage everyone in a friendly competitive game that will enliven the office, build camaraderie and produce healthier employees – all for free!

So what are you waiting for? Athletes and non-athletes alike, track your steps. If you have a smart phone, which of course you do, download one of the free pedometer apps, buy a $15 pedometer at the drug stores or invest in a high-tech pedometer like the FitBit, Nike Fuel Band, or UP Band. No matter where you go, every step you take will lead you in the right direction. I’d enjoy hearing from you about where your steps lead you. Email me at smcgoff@comcast.net to receive a 10,000 steps log sheet or data on converting other activities to number of steps.•

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Sharon McGoff is a graduate of Indiana University Maurer School of Law, a certified personal trainer and health fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine, and a certified life and wellness coach with WellCoaches, Inc. She welcomes your questions or comments at Smcgoff@comcast.net. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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