- Dr. Piotr Solowiej PT, DPT
The Wall-e Prophecy
Historically some of the biggest threats to human health have been some form of communicable disease: small pox, tuberculosis, malaria, polio, various flus and plagues to name a few.
As technology increasingly makes our lives more convenient, the movie "Wall-e" is coming dangerously close to becoming a prophecy. Add a seat to a Hoverboard and we're basically there:
Modern conveniences have resulted in humans becoming increasingly susceptible to non-communicable diseases. Technology that was developed to make our lives easier, has consequently made us sicker.
Non-communicable diseases are chronic, slow progressing, and in many cases - preventable. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease are by far the leading cause of death in the world, totaling 63% of annual deaths.
There are certainly genetic vulnerabilities, and a host of other factors to consider in relation to these disease processes, but we haven't exactly been doing ourselves any favors by moving less.
As a physical therapist in outpatient rehabilitations, my job is to work with people and guide them to find a way to enhance their physical abilities. I'm not necessarily saving lives, but I can make them better.
Yesterday I listened to a lecture given by physical activity advocate and UK pharmacist, Ann Gates. In her lecture, Ann presents data on how many interactions is takes to get a client or patient to change their smoking or physical activity habits.
For smoking, on average its takes around 50 interactions between health providers and patients to get 1 person to stop smoking.
For physical activity, its takes 12. Just 12 interactions to get 1 person to increase their physical activity levels.
So writing this may be the most important thing I do today, this month, or even this year: consider this your friendly reminder to get up and move!
Move more, more often. It may save your life.
I don't think that's being hyperbolic either. Just take a look at a graphic Ann presented on the benefits of physical activity (data utilized from UK's public health organization):
Some pretty powerful effects to say the least.
Among other things, a 30% reduction in all cause mortality (death for any reason)! Also notice how this doesn't say "exercise." Physical activity is defined as 'any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure.'
Meaning you don't have to workout to be healthier. Take the stairs. Park further away in the parking lot. Walk to a local bar or restaurant. Shovel the driveway instead of snow-blowing. There are many ways to add more physical activity into the day, but it will take practice of an anti-convenience mindset to take advantage of those opportunities.
Thanks for reading,