When you are stressed, what happens? Your heart races, you can’t think clearly, you try to speed through tasks, you have a sense of urgency or even panic. What is all your increased metabolism being used for? It is geared up for action, so where does that energy go? If you were in a forest and the source of your stress was the roar of a lion, that stress would be converted into action the moment you started running. There are only two outlets for stress: resolution of the problem causing the stress, and physical activity. When the problem can’t be resolved quickly, physical activity directs the stress in a positive manner.
Modern stresses are rarely of the nature of a physical threat, like a lion preparing to attack. Usually, they come in the form of worry or fear of the future. Your body doesn’t see a difference though — stress is stress. When your mind is stressed, your body expects physical action. Exercise gives it that. With exercise, the demands of stress and the body’s activity are in sync.
The amount of time that stress is high and you are sedentary, the more your health is impacted. Sadly, most jobs these days are high-stress, low movement work known simply as “desk jobs.”
Take a seat — or not!
Back in the 1950’s, it was observed that London bus drivers were twice as likely to have heart attacks as their bus conductor coworkers. The environment was the same for both, except that the drivers sat. Since then, sitting-based jobs have only increased while active jobs have been replaced by robotic services. Consider the modern rise in heart issues — according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) over 800,000 people in the U.S. have a heart attack in an average year, and about 18.2 million adults (starting at age 20!) have coronary heart disease.
Published in Diabetologia, researchers from the Loughborough University and the University of Leicester reviewed 18 studies (794,577 participants) of the health risks of being sedentary. The most sedentary had the following increased risks over those who had an active lifestyle:
- 147% increased risk of cardiovascular events
- 90% increased risk of death from cardiac events
- 112% increase risk of diabetes
- 49% increase in risk of death from any cause
This study did not review the impact of various types of exercise, or the direct impact of stress. Sitting for long periods without exercise strongly increases health risk. Looking deeper tells more of the story.
A sitting duck for heart disease
While some studies suggest that regular exercise will counteract the harm done by sitting for long periods, others suggest that is not the case. Any continuous sitting more than a few hours may have negative effects. Why? After a number of hours of low circulation and low energy draw, longer term factors kick in: prolonged blood pooling, low oxygen to portions of the body, and low lymphatic fluid movement all have a cumulative effect. Published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association (AHA), researchers reviewing data from numerous studies made two vital conclusions about the regularity of activity: 5 days of inactivity (less than 5000 steps per day), or 3 hours of uninterrupted sitting both reduced vascular function in otherwise active people. Exercise after prolonged periods of sitting are beneficial, but your first defense must be to break up the sitting. Even with a desk job, standing for five minutes each hour breaks the sitting cycle. Breaks should be active breaks, if even for a few minutes. Some job functions, such as phone calls, may allow you to stand rather than sit — so much the better.
Can’t stress this enough
Everyone needs regular exercise, and everyone needs to break the constant sitting cycle. But some need it more than others: if you are stressed-out, you are out of balance between your mind telling you “fight or flight” and your body saying “sit and relax.” The longer and the more severe this tension exists between mind stress and body metabolism, the more health is impacted. One study focused on this imbalance: published by the American College of Cardiology, research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71st Annual Scientific Session, researchers studied health records of over 50,000 patients to determine if exercise had a greater benefit for those who were undergoing high stress. For those patients with anxiety or depression, they saw a 22% risk reduction of cardiovascular events, with only a 10% reduction for those without clinical levels of stress. This was more than double the risk reduction for those under severe stress.
Exercise helped everyone in the study, but those who were stressed-out apparently benefited to a far greater extent. The researchers suggested that the exercise activated portions of the brain that counteract stress. Simply put, this is bringing the body in sync with the stress, where it can take action rather than just sit idly by while the mind is shouting.
The mind is very powerful, and tends to get what it demands from the body. When it is agitated, the best thing the body can do is get active. You may even notice that you are less stressed long after the exercise, because your mind got a break and was able to think more clearly, putting things into perspective.
When you are stressed, it’s particularly important that you move — your body and your mind will profit from the exercise. Aren’t most of us stressed generally these days? You may have lived with low grade stress for so long that you are unaware of it. Exercise can be your first line of defense. You need to reduce the stress and calm your mind, because exercise doesn’t remove the root cause of stress, but it can negate a lot of the damage done by the stress. If you sit much of the day due to work, breaking up the sitting as much as you can during the day is vital. Then pursue a more vigorous exercise program off-hours. If you are tired after a long hard day at work, relaxing in front of a TV adds more sitting, which you certainly don’t need. The research makes it clear that the sedentary lifestyle is bad for everyone.
The bottom line is — keep moving. Move through the day. Exercise regularly and often: it’s a major pillar of health.
Dr. Nemec’s Review
We were never meant to sit. In the beginning men and women worked, harvested fields, were on their feet all day long, and at the end of the day they laid down and went to bed on the ground. If they ever sat for brief periods of time it would’ve been on a rock or on the ground. Probably the only time they sat was on the ground when eating meals, but then once again they were up and moving because the chair had not been invented. There is a saying that has been promoted “sitting is the new smoking” — meaning sitting is as hazardous to your health as smoking, and most people and most jobs sit the majority of the day. Your body was meant to move always throughout the day, your muscles were meant to be activated in the movement — all this is a part of moving blood flow and lymphatic flow, and this is critical for oxygen and nutrients exchange as well as detoxification and removing inflammation. If you don’t move you don’t circulate these critical fluids and you will become oxygen deficient, nutrient deficient, toxic, and inflammatory. This happens even if you eat healthy food because any food, any oxygen that enters the body, if it’s not moved to the cells that need it and then removed as byproducts and waste products then they build up and cause inflammation and toxicity, because of the lack of movement of these vital nutrients.
Life is motion — never forget this important fact.
When does cardiovascular disease begin (and actually all the diseases)? Answer: when you’re a teenager. And look at today versus 50 years ago — what do young people do? A lot of sitting in front of a computer or sitting on their cell phones texting. Young people today don’t exercise and move compared to those 50 years ago. What does this mean — it means the newer generations are going to be more sickly than ever and more dependent on medication because they did not develop healthy lifestyles and they did not move enough. Now go back 5000 years. Young people were constantly moving, they were constantly in the fields working, constantly helping their mothers and fathers — there was very little sitting in that day.
In the first study, just sitting increases cardiovascular disease by 150%, diabetes by almost 115%, and causes a 50% increase of all disease — this is just from sitting. This isn’t addressing diet or lifestyle, this is just from sitting too much.The next study showed if you take less than 5000 steps in a day, five days in a row, this greatly decreases your circulation of blood oxygen and nutrients — also the same is achieved if you sit three hours straight without exercising movement. We have always told patients it’s very important to get up every hour and walk. If your office has a stairwell, go up and down the stairs for a few minutes, then sit back down. If you do this every hour the sitting will never harm you. It’s that simple, but you must remember set an hourly alarm because those hours go by very fast, and you will have been sitting there for three hours and think only an hour has gone by. The last study was very important because it stated the more stress you’re under the more benefit you get from the exercise: actually twice as much benefit from a physical health point of view and a disease risk reduction viewpoint. So walk every hour and make sure you’re doing daily exercises: walking, swimming, stair climbing or similar activities. Strength training and cardiovascular exercises: you should do these exercises daily till the day you leave this realm, because if you do, most likely your days will be prolonged greatly.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.