Some experts suggest that maintaining a healthy weight, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, or drinking plenty of water could all rank as the single best thing a person can do for their health. Dr. Mike Evans, founder of the Health Design Lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto and a staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, would disagree.
According to Evans, the single best thing we can do to improve or maintain our health is to fit 30 minutes of exercise into each day. While this may not seem like a lot to some, the average adult in the United States spends five hours per day watching television or screens.
“Being sedentary is bad for your health,” said Evans in the following video, featuring some very intriguing white board art. “TV is a chronic disease. [Researcher] Lennert Veerman found that people who spend six hours per day watching TV can expect to live five years less than active people.”
To improve your health, Evans suggests limiting sedentary activities, like sitting and sleeping, to 23.5 hours per day. Evans believes that exercise is the most important form of preventative medicine.
“Preventative medicine includes maintaining a healthy weight, drinking less, smoking less and maintaining a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol level,” said Evans. “Exercise is another form of preventative medicine that makes the biggest difference to you health and offers the highest level of return.”
Exercise, which can be as simple as walking for 10 minutes, three times per day, helps prevent and alleviate the symptoms of a number of medical conditions.
“[Exercise can] reduce the rates of pain and disability for arthritis patients, reduce the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s,” said Evans. “Exercise can also reduce the progressions of diabetes by 58%, reduce the risk of hip fracture in post-menopausal women by 41%, reduce anxiety by 48% and depression by at least 30%.”
In addition, exercise is the most effective treatment for fatigue and, in a study of 10,000 Harvard alumni, is responsible for a 23% lower risk of death.
“According to [a study led by] Steven Blair, Professor at Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, low fitness is the strongest predictor of death, above obesity, smoking-related disease and high blood pressure.”
Blair’s study also reported that if a person is obese but active, then they are more likely to be in better health even if they don’t lose weight. “There are many negative consequences to obesity when a person doesn’t exercise,” Evans said. “Weight loss ameliorates a lot of those negative consequences of obesity.”
To try to work more exercise into your busy schedule, Evans recommends scheduling activity in advance with friends, building extra
ing into your commute, or spending more time walking your dog.
Image via the video, “23 and 1/2 hours”