One study that tracked 123,000 people found that those who sat around for more than six hours a day, even if they got regular exercise, were 37 percent more likely to die younger than those who sat for fewer than three hours a day. And the outcome was even worse for people who sat for at least six hours and didnt exercise: Their risk of dying younger was 94 percent greater than physically active people who sat for the fewest hours per day. Why? Because a sedentary lifestyle accelerates the aging process and can lead to a cascade of age-related health problems. According to Alpa V. Patel, Ph.D., the studys lead author, sitting too much can give you a boost where you dont want itin your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight.
Exercise has the opposite effect. Studies show it discourages the formation of blood clots, shrinks dangerous abdominal fat, and helps reverse age-related losses in muscle mass, bone strength, heart-lung capacity, and flexibility. Even if youve never exercised a day in your adult life, you can make up for lost time. A Swedish study that followed more than 2,200 men between the ages of 52 and 80 found that those who increased their activity level from the equivalent of a casual walker to spending at least three hours a week engaged in endurance activities (such as playing sports or gardening) cut their mortality rate to half than that of those who stayed on the sofa.
No gym membership? No time? No problem!
Try these sneaky steps to boost your activity level:
-Take the stairs instead of the elevator (a classic, but do you do it?)
-Walk up or down the escalator
-Walk to your coworkers office instead of hitting send on an email
-Engineer inefficiency... Walk upstairs with just one thing in hand, instead of an armful, so you have to go back down to retrieve the rest
-Walk to a lunch spot thats a block or two further than your usual haunt
-Bring your lunch: Walk for a half hour first, then eat your brown-bag meal
-Take the stairs two at a time
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