You are what you don’t do…

Why movement is so important to our health.


W hy movement is so important to our health.We have all heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” it can also be said that “you are what you do.” or more appropriately, “you are what you don’t do.” You might be surprised to learn that the human body was not designed to sit at a computer for 8-10hr/day. The human body was designed to move.

What don’t we do during the winter months more than any other time of the year? We don’t move! When do people get sick? The winter! We may call it a cold, but science has taught us that a ‘cold’ has nothing to do with the temperature outside. Throughout the year we come in contact with millions of viruses and bacteria each and everyday. No matter how much you wash your hands you won’t be able to avoid these microscopic creatures. The most important way to make sure that we don’t get ‘under the weather’ is to strengthen our defenses, also know as the immune system.

The immune system captures foreign invaders (i.e. viruses and bacteria) and needs a place to dump this trash for removal. The system in our bodies that is responsible for removing the bacteria and viruses that come in contact with is called the lymph system. This is why we get sore lymph nodes when we are ill. Lymph nodes are connected throughout the body much like our blood vessels. The difference is that the lymph system doesn’t have a pump, like our blood system does, the heart. Therefore the lymph system requires muscle contraction and relaxation to push these toxins through the system. Think of the muscles in your body as pumps much in the same way the heart is a pump for distributing your blood to your body. Think about what happens when your heart stops pumping.

The idea of using your muscles as pumps is a fantastic idea. Muscles serve a double function. Your muscles not only help you get around and catch food, but they help you stay healthy. That was until the advent computer and the 50 hour work week.
I am an optimist, but I am not naïve. I know that I will never get rid of the computer and the 50 hour work week, what I can do is educate people on what they can do to minimize the effects of ‘the 21st century syndrome.’

The majority of us spend our time at a desk. If we could move some of those muscles (pumps) while at our desk we would be half way there. How many times do we find ourselves engrossed in a project to look up and the clock and see half the day has gone by and we can’t remember if we have stopped to take the time to breathe.

I have come across a few pieces of software that help the computer user remember to breathe, take breaks and stretch throughout the day. All of which have been shown to decrease stress, improve health and increase productivity.

Smoooth: This is a simple piece of software that places a shape of your choosing on your desktop that contracts and expands. This shape is a reminder to take long regular breaths. This software was designed a Portland designer. You can download a 5 day trial at

Work Rave: This one is not as fun as it sounds. This is a free piece of software that has periodic stretch and relaxation reminders that you can customize. The full version can be downloaded for free at

RSI Guard: RSI is short for Repetitive Stress Injury. The most common of which is carpel tunnel syndrome. This software provides the user with stretches, microbreaks, usage statistics and a number of different features intended to prevent injuries from computer usage and boost productivity. A full 45 day trial version of this software can be downloaded at

These pieces of software are not the answer to all of your health problems. What they are, are a reminder to be aware of you body and health throughout the day, to take breaks. move your muscles and remember to give your body it’s most important fuel, oxygen.