By Jessamine Sothard
Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner
Activity and exercise are sometimes used synonymously. Would you consider someone who sits on the couch all day and then works out for 30 minutes the same as someone who was active all day but did not work out? Though they are both important, they are not the same. Activity is essential for vitality and longevity. Exercise helps afford you strength and endurance. The more sedentary you are, the more rapidly you age. It is important to be both active and to exercise for optimal health and longevity.
A research article in 2020 evaluated sedentary lifestyles and its impact on health. It explains that sedentary lifestyles increase all-cause mortality, increase risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and metabolic disorders such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It also leads to increased risk of osteoporosis, depression, and cognitive impairment (J.H Park et. al 2020, Korean journal of family medicine). This is one of many articles that demonstrates how sedentary lifestyles negatively influence our health.
Increasing activity doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply start by moving more often throughout the day. If you have a sedentary job, set an alarm to get up every hour to walk around the house or office for 5 minutes at a time. If you are home, stay active throughout the day with housework, hobbies like gardening or other home projects. Simply taking walks throughout the day and enjoying nature and sunlight is beneficial.
Engaging in exercise is also recommended to decrease all-cause mortality and improve longevity. It is recommended to include 180-220 minutes of zone 2 cardio a week. Zone 2 cardio is 220 minus your age, multiplied by 60% and this result is your heart rate goal for the workout. This activity should produce a light sweat, or a glazed donut look as Jess Sims from Peloton would say, as well as leaving you breathy but not breathless. You should be able to carry this pace for a long time without fatigue and should be able to carry a conversation while doing it. As always, ensure you are cleared by your primary care provider prior to engaging in any exercise routine.
Five pillars — stress, sleep, activity, nutrition and positive social connection — are the very foundation of health and wellness. They empower people to take control of their lives. These five pillars can impact your health in either positive or negative ways.
Sothard will cover the pillars of health and wellness in future articles and during a presentation at the Champaign Family YMCA on Feb. 9 at 11:30 a.m.
Triad High School alumna Jessamine Sothard, APRN, is a board certified nurse practitioner and owner of Thrive Integrative Medicine in downtown Urbana. She specializes in chronic disease and functional medicine with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Wright State University. Sothard has been invited by the Champaign Family YMCA to speak about the five pillars of optimal health and wellness. Her presentation will be held at the Y on Feb. 9 at 11:30 a.m. Members of the community are welcome to attend.