Ever heard of the saying “move it or lose it”? It’s as true for your joints as it is for a slug trying to cross the road. A quick look into the anatomy of a joint will demonstrate why this is true. It all has to do with circulation. For most tissues in your body, blood performs the vital function of delivering oxygen and nutrients, and removing toxic waste products of cellular metabolism. Joints, for the most part, do not have a blood supply. If you were to cut open a joint capsule or a piece of cartilage you won’t see any blood. So how do the living cells that make up joint tissues get their circulation? Wait for it… MOVEMENT!!!

We all instinctively know this on some level. Walking is good for you, sitting on the couch all day is bad for you. This common knowledge is getting a little boring isn’t it? Do we really need a doctor to tell us that? When I was little, I didn’t want to become a doctor because I thought I would get tired of telling people that diet and exercise were the answer to everything. Then I became a doctor (thank goodness we are not held to our childhood decisions, otherwise my niece’s first grade classmate would be “a cat” when she grows up!) and I realized how good for you movement really is. Now I am excited to tell people about the incredible health benefits of exercise. The stats will blow you away. So I’m standing in front of a conference room full of people who work at Trident Seafoods corporate headquarters in Ballard a couple weeks ago. It’s standing room only as I give a presentation entitled “Be Fit While You Sit” which outlines techniques and stretches to relax tight shoulders, relieve muscle knots, stop having headaches that start in your neck, and gives tips on how to sit without back pain. It’s valuable information which counters the negative effects of sitting too much, and I find this discussion of posture and exercise to be absolutely exhilarating!

 Here’s why. I looked into the eyes of the good people at Trident and asked a question. I said: “If I were to tell you each one of you is capable of doing one simple thing which as been shown to lower your risk of mortality (that’s premature death by any means) by 44%, would you be interested in the answer?” After a brief pause for dramatic effect I said, “the answer is…walking.” That’s it? Walking can cut your chance of premature DEATH by almost half? Amazing isn’t it? A study published in the 4/11 issue of the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) found that walking for 30 minutes a day at least 3 times a week decreases your risk of mortality (premature death by disease) by 44%. Movement isn’t  just a little healthy, it’s a matter of life and death. We ought to be thankful that we live in a time in history where we can, for the most part, choose how healthy we will be. The major killers in America today are chronic, lifestyle-type diseases. We don’t have to worry about the bubonic plague coming along and wiping out 1/3 of the population the way it did in Europe in the 14th century. We’re lucky, we get to choose our health. So choose health today, and go for a walk!