Gravity is Your Life Line
by Marilynn Preston
Gravity isn’t just the name of a movie. Gravity is also the best-kept secret for living longer, and stronger, with more energy and a lower risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer.
In the ‘90s, Dr. Joan Vernikos and her NASA space program team faced a tough medical issue: When perfectly fit astronauts go into space — a gravity-fee environment — they quickly show signs of accelerated aging. Their overall health deteriorates. Their bones weaken. Their muscles weaken. They begin to show each other pictures of their grandchildren. When the astronauts return to Earth, their strength returns, their bones stop deteriorating and fitness returns. Dr. Vernikos explains: “The lack of gravity in space wreaks havoc on the body... On Earth, gravity is our life line... it centers us and grounds us... the gravity factor is present to stimulate every cell, every nerve in our body... it etches images in our brain that tells us where we are in relation to our environment... All this rapidly disappears in space... in a gravity-free environment.”
Earthly sitting is a form of weightlessness. It brings us dangerously close to a gravity-free environment, she says, and we “sitanauts” are doing more and more of it every day, for typically eight to 10 hours, in our cars and couches, at our desks and dining tables, in front of big and small screens.
“The less we move, the less we use gravity,” she explains. Modern conveniences and technology may be making our lives easier, but our sedentary lifestyles are making us sick.
And here’s the kicker: Time in the gym, even working out three to five times a week, cannot make up for the negative results that come from disengaging with gravity.
“We’ve struggled for decades to exercise more and eat less,” says Vernikos. “We’re fatter, sicker, more tired and more out of pocket than ever. Some of us even exercise strenuously. Yet, the way we live is slowly killing us.”
Which is why she wrote a book called “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: How Everyday Movement Will Prevent Pain, Illness, and Early Death — And Exercise Alone Won’t.” Strap on your harness and prepare for liftoff — it’s a mind-blower.
When you sit, you’re essentially disconnecting from the “life line” that is gravity. When you get up and change your position — and this is the finding that dazzled her most of all — you’re reconnecting with gravity in ways that promote health and wellness.
It’s the change of position that is most powerful and matters most, Vernikos says. “The results amazed me! Standing was more effective than walking! ”
“To reverse the damage of sedentary living,” Vernikos advises, “put gravity back in your life.”
How? Do frequent nonstrenuous activities throughout the day. Stand up every 10 to 15 minutes, bend and twist, take the stairs, wash the car, empty the dishwasher. You get the picture.
“Our bodies need perpetual motion,” says Vernikos. “The good news is that there are unlimited free opportunities for movement all around us. The key to lifelong health is more than just traditional gym exercise an hour a day, three to five days a week.
“The answer is to rediscover a lifestyle of constant, natural, low-intensity nonexercise movement that uses the gravity vector throughout the day.”
Seen on: Hi Class Living, March-April 2014, pg 75-76