Do-It-Yourselfers may be saving their lives as well as saving money. A new study from Sweden contacted every third 60 year old in Stockholm. Just over 4,000 people volunteered for the baseline screening and follow-up that lasted more than a decade.
At the beginning of the study, participants filled out questionnaires about their exercise habits and their non-exercise physical activity. Those who were involved in gardening, picking blackberries, fixing cars and doing other home and yard maintenance had higher HDL cholesterol and lower triglyceride levels.
Over the next 12.5 years, those who were active in their daily lives, regardless of whether or not they did formal exercise, were less likely to develop metabolic syndrome or experience a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack. Even more important, they cut their risk of dying during the study period by 30 percent. The authors conclude that non-exercise physical activity is just as important as regular exercise for good health.
We discussed non-exercise activity and its benefits with Dr. James Levine, co-author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot, in our show #849. Here is John T’s reaction to the show: “As mentioned on the program, for several years I had an efficient style office where I could access everything without getting up. About eight years ago, since I had the ability, I set up my office in my home in the same manner. Five years ago it was time to change.
“My main work desk is 6.5′ long by 3′ deep and waist high. I must stand to work and stay in more or less constant motion. My computer and its desk were moved into the file room, thus I cannot work at the computer and the desk at the same time and must move from one to the other. I cannot access printed materials, make copies, or fax without walking to the printer; nor access the files without walking to them. Actually, I use two computers and cannot access them both from the same spot.
“At the same time I set up the office differently, I started gardening and rather than plow up the rows, do it entirely by shoveling. My acre of property is mowed with a power mower, but walk behind and not self-propelled. This includes a 30 degree grade hill behind the house.
“I am 69. Blood Pressure 117 over 70 almost every time it’s taken, last physical last month. PSA okay, blood okay, cholesterol within tolerance and I can outwork the maintenance crews I supervise as I work in the field with them some on almost every project.
“Clearly I can recommend setting up an office for physical well-being and claim that as the efficient way to do work. The few seconds between one function and another is not at all a waste of time compared to one lost day due to illness a lack of exercise brings on.”