Move Well – why getting off your butt may be good for you!

From Eating Well to Moving Well, here’s an update of what Matthew spoke about in the second part of our Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well series.


Did you know?

  • Humans now exercise ≈65% less than our ancestors [1]
  • 60% of adults do not meet the minimum requirements for weekly exercise (5×30 minutes) [2]
  • 27% of adults get no exercise at all [2]
  • Approximately 60-70% of an adults waking hours are spent sedentary [3] (if you live to 80, that’s around 38 years)


This epidemic of sedentary behaviour puts people at higher risk of all-cause mortality (death). Increased cancer mortality (particularly breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial & ovarian), increased cardiovascular disease incidence, and an enormously increased incidence of type 2 diabetes was found to be associated with increased sedentary time. The same meta-analysis (review of all the high level research about this topic) that found this, also found that the negative effects of sedentary activity decreased with people who participated in high levels of physical activity [4].


Even if you are at a normal weight (healthy rage BMI) it doesn’t mean you can get away with a sedentary lifestyle void of any physical activity. People who are skinny and don’t participate in physical activity have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes than a larger person who does participate in regular physical activity [1].


Bluntly put:

Overweight people who exercise are healthier than skinny people who don’t!

 Physical activity is something that the human body needs to maintain normal physiology.


Unfortunately in today’s society many jobs require people to be seated for long periods of time throughout the day. This also has deteriorative health effects (even when looked at as a factor independent of physical activity levels) [5-7]. For anyone in this predicament there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re not further affecting your health such as getting up for regular breaks to walk around and stretch, make sure you leave the office at lunch time and go for a walk or run around the block and last, but most certainly not least, making sure that your posture whilst sitting is good!


The difference between sitting in a correct posture and a slouched posture is a 45% increase in the pressure on your lower back.[10]


“Posture affects and moderates every physiologic function from breathing to hormonal production. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture.“ AJPM 1994


Voluntary physical activity and movement has a protective effect on cognitive function (brain function), improves cerebral nutrient supply (blood supply to the brain), improves neuronal activity, increases neural cell production and survival, thus producing a net neurogenesis associated with better learning performance – i.e. YOUR BRAIN WORKS BETTER! [1]. So movement helps your brain to learn and retain information more easily and for longer. It also has a preventative role in cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, some cancers, osteoporosis and other chronic conditions (over 25 in total) [6, 8, 9].


“Most telling is the fact that in the western world, the average person, although staying alive until the age of 77, can only expect about 64 years of functional life. This is not the case for elderly hunter-gatherers who stay active and healthy and continue to contribute a great deal to the community.”

So what are you waiting for? Start moving!





  • Booth, F.W., et al., Waging war on physical inactivity: using modern molecular ammunition against an ancient enemy. J Appl Physiol (1985), 2002. 93(1): p. 3-30.
  • Mokdad, A.H., et al., The continuing epidemics of obesity and diabetes in the United States. Jama, 2001. 286(10): p. 1195-200.
  • Owen, N., et al., Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 2010. 38(3): p. 105-113.
  • Biswas, A., et al., Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in AdultsA Systematic Review and Meta-analysisSedentary Time and Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2015. 162(2): p. 123-132.
  • Dunstan, D.W., et al., Associations of TV viewing and physical activity with the metabolic syndrome in Australian adults. Diabetologia, 2005. 48(11): p. 2254-61.
  • Hu, F.B., et al., Physical activity and television watching in relation to risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus in men. Arch Intern Med, 2001. 161(12): p. 1542-8.
  • Hamilton, M.T., D.G. Hamilton, and T.W. Zderic, Role of low energy expenditure and sitting in obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes, 2007. 56(11): p. 2655-67.
  • Warburton, D.E., et al., Evidence-informed physical activity guidelines for Canadian adults. Can J Public Health, 2007. 98 Suppl 2: p. S16-68.
  • Lee, I.M., et al., Relative intensity of physical activity and risk of coronary heart disease. Circulation, 2003. 107(8): p. 1110-6.
  • Vizniak, N., Physical Assessment 3rd Ed, Professional Health Systems Inc, 2008. p252