Keys to Longevity: Habits of Healthy Motion
When I was working as a critical care physician, I saw patients lurch from health crisis to health crisis. We would treat their serious conditions and send them home only to see them return a few months later, often with the same health challenge or a worse version of it. I realized that we weren’t actually helping our patients create health. We were treating the symptoms as best we could, but when a patient with a history of cardiovascular problems did not change their exercise and eating choices, it was no surprise to have to treat them again.
And that sparked the early research that would become Dr. A’s Habits of Health. I wanted the world to adopt an approach to health that prevented disease and promoted longevity. I wanted medicine to move from being reactive to being proactive.
As we continue to learn from the latest research and from our rapidly growing work in the field, one of the clearest lessons—and there are several—is that Habits of Healthy Motion are essential. The more sedentary our lives become, the less positive our longevity outlook becomes.
I’ve written before how something as seemingly benign as sitting for long periods can impact your health, but that research has continued to evolve since then. You see, we know that as we age our bodies are likely to lose muscle mass, especially if we aren’t actively trying to maintain and build muscle strength. The medical term for this is “age-related sarcopenia.”
Losing muscle mass can mean more than limiting your ability to enjoy an active lifestyle. Sarcopenia can weaken your bones, lead to weight gain, and even increase your risk of developing diabetes.
Recent research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that sedentary lifestyles in older adults lead to increased levels of frailty and decreased longevity. In short, the study participants who were most active lived longer and had less weakness and fatigue.
You too can reap the benefits of an active lifestyle, no matter your starting point or your current age. Here’s how to get started building Habits of Healthy Motion:
- Talk to your physician first. Always talk to an expert before you make a change in your lifestyle to ensure that changes you do make are safe and sustainable.
- Start slow. Activities as simple as walking are powerful foundations for Habits of Healthy Motion. Start with short daily walks and gradually add steps as you increase strength and build a routine.
- Sit less. Many Habits of Healthy Motion occur outside of a formal exercise program. Making an effort to stand more often throughout your day—on the phone, during chores, and at work—is a great way to build health and burn calories.
- Get support. Working with a health coach, having a walking buddy, or going to group fitness classes are great ways to build strong habits. Having encouragement and someone to hold you accountable helps to keep you on track!
Habits of Healthy Motion play an important role in your longevity. Start building and strengthening them today!