Tuesday, December 27, 2011

23 1/2 hours

If you’re looking for a new year’s resolution, here’s one that is deceptively simple: limit your sitting and sleeping time to 23 ½ hours.

(Disclaimer: I am shamelessly building this blog from a youtube video called '12 and ½ hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health'.)

The author, Dr. Mike Evans, argues that we spend most of our day sitting and sleeping and the best thing we could do as far as preventative medicine goes is get up and be active for at least half an hour each day. This basic approach has been shown to be successful in treating a variety of problems such as arthritis, diabetes, depression, and dementia.

This isn’t new. I don’t know how many times I’ve told a doctor about some health concern, only to be told to ‘get more exercise and sleep’. (Helpfully, it has been suggested to me that the cure for insomnia is to get more sleep.) It’s common knowledge, but perhaps so common that we’ve forgotten its worth.

What I like about this little re-framing of the time-worn advice is that Dr. Evans argues that the amount of activity doesn’t have to be extreme. You don’t have to start running marathons if you want to reap health benefits – a daily 20-30 min walk alone will bring you plenty of positive benefits. For example, a study in Japan found that every increase of 10 minutes in your daily walk to work can result in a 12% reduction in cases of high blood pressure.

As a big fan of walking, it’s not surprising that I would be a fan of the advice to walk 30 minutes each day. Hippocrates said that ‘walking is man’s best medicine’ and Nietzsche said, ‘all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.’

So here is one goal for 2012 (not the only goal – about which there will be more in the coming days): limit my sitting and sleeping time to at most 23 ½ hours. V gave me a lovely moleskine day-timer for Christmas in which I can record my daily activity. I don’t think it will be hard – allowing me plenty of time for other challenges...

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