Let’s look at what we had discussed: Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, get off the bus one or two stations before your destination and walk the rest of the way, take your bike to work instead of the car and so on. The course participant was right: The bottom line is this: when we follow such PA advice, we make our day less comfortable and that is not common for human beings at all.
I see people take the escalator instead of the stairs all the time. The small amount of people that decide differently only seem to do so as long as they have no or very little baggage (at least in my observations; and I understand them, it makes perfect sense). I’ve asked hotel staff for the location of the stairs and there were ones that didn’t even know that in the first instance. Obviously, not many people had asked them…
…but why not be comfy? As humans, we’ve put an incredible amount of effort into making almost everything less physically demanding. But the point is this: That development isn’t necessarily healthy… (Footnote: I’ve only put in “necessarily” because I prefer cautious language – Most of the time, research is more complicated than simple messages).
Research of recent years indicated that even short bouts of PA (less than 10 minutes at a time) offer tremendous health benefits. For example, the CARDIA study, carried out by White and colleagues, has demonstrated protective effects by short PA bouts against hypertension . Another study with an observational design by Clarke and Janssen  showed a comparable association of short PA bouts with metabolic syndrome as an equivalent volume of PA, conducted in longer bouts.
Furthermore, there is all this recent research about sitting and sedentary behavior as health hazard (e.g. [3,4,5]). Most additional minutes that we spend actively, are not spent sitting. Take commuting by car or by bike as an example or walking instead of sitting in the bus.
This brings me back to the course participant, I mentioned above. Yes, integrating short bouts (and long bouts) of PA into our everyday lives is making our days harder. Paradoxically, we would all benefit from that, which leads me to Dr. Mike Evans.
Dr. Evans is someone, who has done an amazing job as a health educator. He has put informative, evidence-based videos online, which were recorded very creatively and are thus very appealing to watch . Dr. Evans started, as he calls it, a movement “Let’s make our day harder”. I don’t want to preempt more… Lean back and watch his video.
(© Dr. Mike Evans, http://www.evanshealthlab.com/)
Thanks to Dr. Mike Evans who has coined the phrase “Let’s make our day harder” (or #MakeYourDayHarder) for putting the marvelous video online, which I inserted above. He operates the Evans Health Lab (www.evanshealthlab.com), find him on youtube (with much more health information) as “DocMikeEvans” or on twitter as @docmikeevans.
1. White, D.K., Gabriel, K.P., Kim, Y., Lewis, C.E. & Sternfeld, B. (2015). Do short spurts of physical activity benefit cardiovascular health? The CARDIA study. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. Epub ahead of print; doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000662
2. Clarke, J. & Janssen, I. (2014). Sporadic and bouted physical activity and the metabolic syndrome in adults. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 46(1), 76-83.
3. Huber, G. (2014). Ist Sitzen eine tödliche Aktivität? Bewegungstherapie und Gesundheitssport, 30, 6-12.
4. Dunstan, D.W., Howard, B., Healy, G.N. & Owen, N. (2012). Too much sitting – a health hazard. Diabetes research and clinical practice, 97(3), 368-376.
5. Ekblom, Ö., Ekblom-Bak, E., Rosengren, A., Hallsten, M., Bergström, G. & Börjesson, M. (2015). Cardiorespiratory fitness, sedentary behaviour and physical activity are independently associated with the metabolic syndrome, results from the SCAPIS pilot study. PLoS One, 10(6), e0131586. Available online: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4486454/
6. Dr. Mike’s YouTube Page. Available on https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL-IWPkXQn3JYYYsPnpGlIg