I grew up in an Australian/Irish household where I am one of 4 boys. Nicholas, Andrew, me and my not so little brother, he’s 6 foot 6, Sean. Many of the families who emigrated from Ireland to Australia in the 1940’s and 50’s as my Dad did were Catholic. For those of you not familiar with the practice of this particular religion, attendance at Sunday morning mass is one of the more common rituals adhered too. Every Sunday, Dad, Mum and the Killian boys, would make the short journey from our home to our local church. I’m telling you a little about my childhood certainly not to influence your view on religion in any way, but according to research my behaviour in mass has apparently shaped my physique.
My mother is one of the most patient people you could meet, but my behaviour every Sunday would drive the poor lady to distraction. ‘Stop that fidgeting Brian!’ I can hear my dear Mum say firmly under her breathe. I tried, I promise you I tried but it was no use. I could stay still for a little while but then I’d be back tapping my fingers, jiggling my knees, turning around, moving side to side, I just couldn’t keep still. Guess what? I still can’t! As I write this post my leg is jumping around under the desk. I understand fidgeting can be very annoying for others, and with age I have developed more control than my ‘holy’ years.
My constant need to move, or fidget, is according to a study by the prestigious Mayo Clinic possibly predetermined, biological. In the study reported by The New York Times, researchers from the Mayo clinic found given the same environment, same diet and same resources, some people have the tendency to move more than others. Interestingly when the participants of the group were forced to gain weight, their tendency to move didn’t decline. This suggests the tendency to move maybe not influenced so much by weight, but your weight is more influenced by your tendency to move. In the study the researchers calculated simply by fidgeting, that is small movements frequently made during the day, the participant consumed an additional 350 calories a day. When you do the maths, this 350 calories per day adds up to an extraordinary consumption of almost 10 kilograms of body weight per year, without ever setting foot in the gym.
Is the answer to our obesity epidemic as simple as jiggling your knees, tapping your fingers, or as I did, driving your poor mum to the brink of breakdown?
Could be, however researchers would have you believe the tendency to move or not is predetermined, biological, set. For me, whilst it appears plausible that the tendency to be inactive is biologically determined, it has yet to be proven conclusively. I absolutely agree with Dr. Rudolph Leibel, an obesity researcher at Columbia University Medical Center, who said, "People can be taught and motivated to change their behaviour in service of their health." I personally have the great privilege of seeing people change every day. It is what I do professionally and I have seen people completely transform themselves. I have seen clients overcome huge hurdles in their quest for a better life.
This research does highlight the massive detrimental affect our modern day sedentary lifestyle has on our health. It shows how a little movement often is cumulative, and so much more beneficial for you long term than a 6 week boot camp, or weekend fat camp. Previously I wrote this post 'Is sitting cutting years of your life?', to highlight how sitting is quickly being regarded as ‘the new smoking’. My examples in this post will give you some ideas on how to increase your incidental movement.
I encourage you to take control and look for any opportunity to move, and do so often. As we’ve seen a little can go a long way and you don’t need any fancy equipment or a gym membership. You can control your environment or you can let it control you.