Pete’s Blog – Sept 2019 Move Daily

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While I don’t necessarily like to only talk about the benefits of moving on a daily basis and the importance of eating well, I have come across two articles in the last 4 weeks that I felt were important to share with you.

While both have a slightly different perspective, they actually complement each other and lend further support to why we need to not only ensure we move more on a daily basis but also the importance of eating well each and every day.

The first of these articles is an opinion piece from the British Medical Journal, with the authors reporting on a recent meta-analytic review of research which investigated the effects of sensor measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour on mortality.

“Every step you take : Walk more and sit less: even light exercise is linked to a lower risk of death.” Klerk, J and Keyser, N. British Medical Journal, August 21 2019.

The authors reported that based on the findings of this latest research we should all sit less, move more and more often. Furthermore, this study also found that the total daily volume of physical activity, regardless of the intensity, is beneficial for longevity. While higher intensity exercise had greater health benefits, even the group who only ‘exercised’ at a low level of intensity had a 60% reduction in their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This group found ways to be active throughout the day, which equated to just over 6 hours of activity each day during the investigation. Conversely, a statistically significant higher risk of death was found amongst those individuals who were sedentary for 9.5 or more hours per day.

The take home message from this review is that higher levels of total physical activity, at any intensity, and less time spent sedentary, are associated with a substantially reduced risk for premature mortality.

Last month UNSW hosted a seminar – “Look Inside My Heart: Medical Science, Health and Lifestyle” which discussed the latest research on heart disease in Australia and how to maintain a healthy heart. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Australia but 80 per cent of the time, cardiovascular disease is preventable.  

Similar to the findings of the above study, one of the two ways to reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease is to move more and more often. Every step counts and even light activity is beneficial.

As little as 11 minutes of high intensity exercise each day or 22 minutes of moderate intensity exercise can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. What’s more, we don’t have to do either the 11 or 22 minutes at once. What is more important is that we get up and move on a regular basis.

By simply getting your heart rate up for between 11 – 22 minutes every day, e.g. jogging, dancing, having sex, riding your bike, swimming, working out at the gym, can reduce your risk by 20 to 30 percent.

The second way all of us can reduce our risk is to very simple, yet for the majority of Australian’s very difficult to implement on a regular basis: eat more vegetables, especially more green vegetables. Currently it is estimated that only about 7 per cent of Australian Adults eat the recommended five serves of vegetables per day.

Dr Belinda Parmenter

·      Just move: Choose to move. Choose to stand.

Tips to be more active: I’m not sure many people like walking upstairs, but it also counts and is easy to walk down the stairs. Take the lift to the top floor and walk down to your office/classroom level. Take the park further away from the shops. Push a trolley at the supermarket, carry your shopping bags inside, don’t order online home delivery. Everyone says get off a stop earlier when on public transport, but not many actually do it. Do it if you want to, but you can go for a five minute walk around your building every hour. Set an alarm on your phone to go off every hour to remind you to move. Put your bin outside your office. Put the printer down the hallway. Stand on the bus/train journey into school or work. Have standing meetings. Have walking meetings. If you are really keen get a bike or treadmill desk.

·      It is only 22 minutes a day of moderate intensity (exercise that is somewhat hard, where you are a little out of breath, but can still maintain a conversation) or 11 minutes a day of vigorous intensity (exercise that feels hard/very hard, causes you to sweat, be out of breath to the point where you can’t talk continuously and get a bit of muscle soreness). And…you can accumulate it throughout the day. Walk with purpose, run up a stair case and you’ll find it easier to meet the guidelines.

·      Strength training counts against the fight with CVD. This includes going to the gym and lifting weights, doing push-ups, doing squats, carrying groceries, pilates, any activity that requires the muscles to push against a force or pull a load.


Eat Well
Dr Rebecca Reynolds

  • 60% of the burden of CVD (link is external) comes from poor diet, so:

    • Eat more fruits and vegetables in particular; (and wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil and low fat dairy)

    • Be mindful of your intakes of processed foods and animal products that are higher in salt, saturated fat and/or trans fats; (and alcohol)

  • Your body weight matters – 8% of the burden of CVD (link is external) comes from having too much stored fat in our bodies

  • How you think and feel about what you eat and drink is important for your cardiovascular health:

    • Being obsessed about healthy eating can increase psychological stress, which can directly damage your cardiovascular system

    • Caring about the environmental aspects of what you eat and drink (e.g. food waste) can give you a sense of meaning, which can be beneficial for your cardiovascular system

  • Be kind to yourself – self-compassion can help with nutrition, eating behaviour and body weight

Dr Reynolds also suggested that the benefit of increasing our intake of vegetables is two-fold. Firstly we get the benefits from the vegetables in terms of the vitamins, minerals and benefits for our gut health and, if we fill up on vegetables, we are likely to eat less of the foods that increase our risk of heart disease. These foods include high-in-salt processed foods, fatty meats and transfat-filled foods. This group of foods are associated with developing “bad cholesterol”. The fibre in vegetables also makes us feel more full, which can help with body weight regulation.

Eating  potassium-rich vegetables, e.g. spinach, broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, zucchini, peas, eggplant, mushrooms and cucumbers, helps to lower blood pressure. Eating potassium-rich foods also works to reduce the effect of salt, which increases blood pressure and of which most Australians eat too much (about twice the recommended daily teaspoon). 

To sum up, find ways to move every day and do so on a regular basis throughout the day. While going to the gym is important, the benefits of the 30 – 60 minutes of moderate – high intensity exercise will only be enhanced if we then continue to be active for the remainder of the day as well as on the days we don’t go to the gym. Secondly by being more conscious of what we are eating, especially making sure we get 5 servings of vegetables each day, especially green vegetables, not only will we be complementing the exercise we are doing, we are also reducing our risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Fitness, LifestylePeter Fernley