Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sitting Kills, Moving Heals : Review

Look inside at Amazon, and purchase it there
or via your local bookseller at Indiebound.
What a marvelously practical book!

* For anyone wondering how to remain active for as long as they can without necessarily becoming an athlete, this book's for you.

* And if you have a friend whose mobility seems a tad compromised for any reason, the activities advocated by this NASA scientist - based on her years of research with (lack of) gravity's effects on astronauts - will quickly and painlessly help that friend get right back up on his feet again.

What's the premise?  That keeping our bodies engaged with the earth's gravity via small, natural movements throughout the day is what will keep us flexible and strong enough to maintain a high quality of life, unencumbered by unnecessary physical limitations

Of course, Dr. Joan Vernikos isn't against other forms of exercise.  It's simply that she has come to learn via years of research while directing NASA's Life Sciences division that daily functional moves to improve and then maintain our posture, flexibility, and core strength should be the foundation of our fitness, and our trips to the gym or hikes up the mountain won't necessarily provide the same benefits that simple, daily gravity-based activities will. 

For a quick summary of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, hop over to the JKS book tour site

A few key take-aways for me:
* 32.  Remember that number.  Vernikos notes that if you stand up and sit down throughout that day at least thirty-two times, gravity's effects will kick in and your balance and stability will improve.  But you can't simply do them all at once in a minute or two to achieve the effects; rather, simply making sure you get up from your desk or chair every half an hour or so, using your core and leg muscles if you can rather than pushing off with your arms, will do the trick.  For some of us, the magic 32 will be achieved easily due to the nature of our daily routines, but for those with some physical challenges or sedentary habits, this simple practice could significantly improve their quality of life.

Yoga, for many reasons, all of which you can read in Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, is a good thing.  As is tai chi.  Of course, we may believe this already, but reading about it here will strengthen your resolve to keep up your daily (or near-daily) practice.

And, gentle readers, try this:  Sit in a less-than-comfy reading chair - at least from time to time.  Sitting upright in a hard-backed, armless dining chair will improve your posture, and as you shift around from time to time to reach a more comfortable position, you'll be working against gravity and thus improving your fitness.

Dr. Vernikos offers many many more ideas in Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, any and all of which take NO EXTRA TIME and can be performed by folks of all fitness levels, regardless of age.  How sweet is that?

I would recommend this to anyone wishing to begin a journey toward full health and fitness, and I'd wager that even those who run 5K's or play soccer every weekend or walk daily or hit the gym five days a week will also find ways to improve their overall fitness as they read this interesting book.  And it's a slim volume too, and so an "easy" read!  Vernikos provides plenty of fascinating background in the science upon which her practical recommendations are based, and it's all quite accessible.  Each chapter closes with plenty of documentation for her sources, and her credentials are strong, so one feels that the advice here is not simply opinion but rather the result of years of research - highly credible.  The writing is fluid and clear as well.

My actions?  Simple: I'm re-committing to my yoga routine and weaving in one of Vernikos's suggested movements into my daily routine each week for five weeks.  Then I'll re-evaluate. 

And I'm suggesting this book to friends and family members, especially those who may feel they don't have the time or physical fitness yet to engage in strenuous exercise: The actions "prescribed" in Sitting Kills, Moving Heals seem to hold great potential for strengthening not only their bodies but also their confidence toward building a life-enhancing exercise routine.


p.s.  For more information about Dr. Joan Vernikos and her work, visit her website.

Thanks to the folks at JKS Communications for offering
me a perusal copy of this book!

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