by Jacquelyn J. Core JD PhD

Want to stay thin in the new year? Take some wisdom from your mom and dad, and return to an earlier time. Research now shows us that, while coming to the Y will help you get the 150 minutes of recommended weekly exercise, the best way to ensure longevity may in fact be the regular activities of life. Yes, you heard me…adding regular, low intensity movement to your Y exercise and to your current daily routine could add years to your life.

You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” In fact, you may have heard it from me, but it did not originate with me. The phrase originates with the Director of the Mayo Clinic at Arizona State University, Dr. James Levine, and refers to our inactivity as a risk factor. While the pace of life has increased dramatically, the amount we move has not. The opposite is true. We spend more time sedentary every year. So what about 1965 was so great?

First of all, do you remember when your mom and dad made you change the channel on the TV? I mean actually get off your butt and walk to the TV to change the channel? Would you even know HOW to change the channel AT the TV now? Is that even still possible? We live in a remote control world. You name it, and western society can mechanize it. (Don’t even get me started on the electric can opener… great if you have arthritis of lack the strength to open your cans, but for most healthy people, seriously? When did we become too lazy to open a can by hand??)

Back in the good old days we changed the channel on the TV by walking to it… our washer and dryer were in the basement… our garage (if we had one) was detached. Our robot did not vacuum. We grew a garden and shovelled snow with… wait for it… a shovel. The mechanization of many household tasks has resulted in a sedentary lifestyle that is killing us slowly. It is not actually just sitting, but being sedentary that harms us. Our ancestors were movers, and we were made to move as well, but many of us (me included) spend hours each day at a desk, in front of a computer, so we need to work to reintroduce movement to our lives. For those who are unable to move as much, because of age or health, we can move even more by helping them with their tasks!

So is all technology bad? No way. It’s my Apple Watch that reminds me to hydrate and to get up and move. Technology is a great tool if used properly (and if you love that electric can opener, just don’t tell me about it). But all of us will benefit if we park the car further from the door and go the extra mile to do everyday tasks by hand. That extra movement and effort will likely result in improved mood, a higher calorie expenditure, and maybe even a lost pound or two. So, in 2018, make your mantra, “party like it’s 1965,” and ask yourself… how would my grandmother have done it? It just might add years to your life.