Sitting Kills, Moving Heals Review

Some time ago, I received a review copy of Joan D. Vernikos’ book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: How Simple Everyday Movement Will Prevent Pain, Illness and Early Death – and Exercise Alone Won’t.

I’ve been reading the book on and off for weeks and it has already had a positive effect on how willing I am to do household chores. 🙂

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Joking aside, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals is a book about an important topic: the deleterious effect our sedentary lifestyle has on our health and our quality of life.

Because I’ve read James Levine’s book about the subject, I was very interested in what Joan Vernikos has to say about the subject.

Joan Vernikos is a former NASA scientist and a former director of the NASA Life Sciences Division. Because of her background, Vernikos has a unique angle on the “sitting problem”. Her basic thesis is that the symptoms astronauts suffer fom after they have spent time in weightlessness are the same we suffer from as the consequence of too much sitting.

Astronauts and sedentary adults are both deprived of gravity – the former because they spend time in space and the latter because of too much sitting. The symptoms of gravity deprivation are the symptoms that have been associated with the aging process  – but actually appear to be the consequence of physical inactivity, not the aging process.

In other words, both astronauts and sedentary adults suffer from gravity deprivation syndrome.

What are the symptoms of gravity deprivation syndrome?

There is a long list of symptoms, but I picked a few that especially caught my eye.

  • decreased strength
  • balance problems
  • stooped posture (lack of use atrophies stabilizer muscles that support spine)
  • sluggish gut
  • urinary incontinence (even in young women)
  • flabby muscles
  • increased fatigability
  • decreased testosterone, decreased growth hormone
  • aching joints

If you want to test yourself, go find a stairwell and walk down a flight of steps. If you can walk down without watching your feet and without taking support of the railing, you’re doing pretty well.

I tested myself and found I can do it pretty easily, but I think it would’ve been more difficult a couple of years ago when I was suffering from runners’ knee and my physical activity was minimal.

What can you do about gravity deprivation syndrome?

The answer to the problem is not more exercise.

Joan introduces a long list of “gravity habits” (G-habits) and their benefits in counteracting the effects of too much sitting. In a nutshell,  you simply need to increase your natural everyday activity. G-habits or everyday physical activities vary from standing up from lying down, doing your dishes, going up (or down) stairs, riding on a roller coaster to jumping on a trampoline.

For exercise, Vernikos especially recommends yoga or tai chi.

Who is Sitting Kills, Moving Heals meant for?

Frankly, I think this is a book everyone should read, but I recommend it especially to

  • anyone who “hates exercise” and needs motivation to become physically active again,
  • anyone who leads a sedentary lifestyle and is worried about their health,
  • for people who are forced to long bed rest because of disease or disability (like people suffering from strokes, spinal cord injury etc)

The book is an easy read and easy to put into action in your own life.

Grab your own copy here.