“We are doing a fabulous job of not moving enough,” Jason Aragon said as he started his presentation dubbed, “Stand Up, Stand Up.”
Aragon was referring to a global survey done on levels of inactivity for 2001 to 2016, which showed that 8 out of 10 adults and children do not engage in enough physical activities on a weekly basis and that this was a leading risk factor for non-communicable diseases, mental health challenges, and lower quality of life.
Highlighting figures from the survey, Aragon pointed out that inactivity was no different in all demographics, regardless of whether people are rich or poor.
“Doing enough exercise, instead of sitting down daily, will help the oxygen flow to our bodies and in the brain, which will help to give us clarity of thoughts and make better decisions,” said Aragon, who is the director of the graduate program in public health and preventative medicine at Montemorelos University in Mexico.
“If you want to be rich in terms of your physical fitness, you are the master of your destiny,” Aragon said. No other health behavior is as dependent on will power as is exercise, he added. “You can be rich when it comes to physical fitness if you put in the work. You can deposit daily to that account.”
The Power of Sedentary Behavior
In the Dallas Bed Rest Study of 1966, five individuals were tested for oxygen output and workload (strength) capability after three weeks of total inactivity on bed rest and then after eight weeks of intense physical training. Forty years later, those same five individuals were tested again. The individuals had maintained some regular physical activity over the 40 years. Researchers found that their oxygen output and workload capability had declined over the 40 years (because of aging) about the same amount as it had declined when the five individuals were put on total bed rest for three weeks in 1966. Muscle loss and lowered lung capacity had happened very quickly whenever they stopped physical activity altogether.
“Muscle wasting is more accelerated when we are lying down or sitting for long periods than if we were doing physical activities … that’s the power of moving,” Aragon emphasized after describing the Dallas study.
Aragon was presenting on the second day of a health summit hosted by the Inter-American Division (IAD) in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, January 22-26, 2020. Attendees included church leaders and health ministry directors from across IAD.
During the presentation, the university professor engaged the attendees in physical exercises to illustrate and reinforce the need for physical activities.
In redefining retirement, Aragon posited that retirement is not about finding a place to sit but about being able to move and enjoy life and do things for yourself, not the sedentary lifestyle that was often the case during working life.
In concluding, he warned the audience that if they want to “outwalk” death, they would have to walk at a quicker pace than they were currently moving.
“The muscles grow weaker as we get older. The stronger our muscles, the better we can combat aging. Move as if your life depends on it, because it does.”