Spot on Science: Get Moving!

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[Margaret] I have a confession. Sometimes I just like to sit around and be lazy. Like, I get home from work and head straight for the couch. Okay, so maybe it's not that crazy of a confession. But I know I should be moving more. And it's not just me.  

A study from the National Institute on Aging found that, beginning in elementary school, kids aren't moving enough, and it keeps getting worse. By age 19, most teens are only moving as much as a 60-year-old. Not cool.  

So, to find a little motivation, I met with Gina Shaffer, a certified personal trainer from the fitness center at UH Avon Health Center. I started by asking her, what exactly is a fitness trainer?

[Gina] We help people motivate to get in shape. They want to lose weight, we teach them how to lose weight. If they need to work on some of their issues, like a bad knee or a bad shoulder, we help them learn how to take care of those things.

[Margaret] And so, what kind of science is behind being a personal trainer?

[Gina] Well, it's really a lot about physiology, anatomy. Anatomy is the study of your muscles and bones. And physiology is like your cardiovascular system, your pulmonary system, how you breathe, how your heart beats.

[Margaret] So you really have to know how your entire body works in order to help it work better.

[Gina] Pretty much, pretty much.

[Margaret] And for someone like me, who sits at a desk most of the day, or for the students that watch, who sit in school all day, what would you suggest is a good way to start moving?

[Gina] Just start being aware of it. If you feel like you're sitting too long, you're probably sitting too long, so you want to get up, walk around. Start doing some things that you don't normally do, like maybe you always get driven places; maybe you could walk to a couple places. Maybe you could take a walk for lunch. Just get up and move around a little bit more than you normally do. Get away from the TV, get away from the video games, and start playing outside more.

[Margaret] So I don't have to hit the gym, and do a bunch of push ups, and lift a ton of weights?

[Gina] It's not necessary, but it's great if you can do that. But if you're not into that kind of thing, I'm sure you could move around more than you normally do.

[Margaret] And so what's the benefit of just moving a little bit more every day?

[Gina] Well, your body becomes stronger. What we do is we work on our bodies a little bit, we stress them a little bit, we sleep, and our body gets a little bit stronger. So every time you stress your body a little bit, it gets stronger when you sleep at night. So you want to keep doing it and keep that more consistent, and then you keep getting stronger, and stronger, and stronger over time.

[Margaret] And you had told me that there's some studies that show that it actually makes you happier and smarter?

[Gina] Makes you happier. It makes you happier and smarter. It actually increases the serotonin in your brain, and serotonin makes you feel happy. So there's studies that show that people that exercise have a lot less depression. So if you're kinda feeling blue a lot, then you might want to go out and take a nice brisk walk. You'll probably feel a lot better.

[Margaret] Awesome! Well, I mean, we probably shouldn't stand here much longer. Let's get moving!

[Gina] Sounds good.

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