What is the real measure of health?

November 16, 2008 5:13:17 AM PST
Fat, but fit and skinny, but unhealthy. Iit seems like it can't be done, but it's often the case. We've been lead to believe for years that looking at a scale is the real measure of health, but not so, says Dr. Tim Church.

He has tips for keeping healthy. He is a professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University and the author of "Move Yourself."


1. What promoted you to write, Move Yourself? Who is the book for?

2. Most people would not admit to being sedentary. How do you know if you are sedentary?

3. Are there different degrees of sedentary people?

4. Do you recommend an exercise program for people with a sedentary lifestyle?

5. What is your low-dose activity prescription for people who are taking less than five thousand steps a day?

6. How many steps should you be taking to maintain your health?

7. How many steps should you be taking to improve your health?

8. What kind of health benefits can you expect from a simple movement program that you are suggesting?

9. You say sedentary people shouldn't exercise. When should they start an exercise program?

What's Your Sedentary Style?

When surveyed about exercise levels most people grossly misrepresent themselves. Drs. Church and Mitchell will take your viewers through a simple self-assessment test to determine the severity of their sedentary lifestyle (answer yes or no to the following questions):

1) Do you have a desk job?

2) Do you eat dinner in front of the TV?

3) Do you eat out, drink or go to the movies on the weekends?

4) Are you unlikely to get 20-30 minutes of physical activity a day on most days of the week?

5) Do you pay someone to clean your house or do yard work?

6) When you walk into a building do you take the elevator?

7) Does someone else walk your dog?

8) Are you out of breath after walking a block or going upstairs?

9) Has your home exercise equipment turned into a laundry rack?

7 or more YES = Super Sedentary

6-4 YES = Borderline Sedentary

Four or more yes answers make you a candidate for low-dose activity. Three or less yes answers make you a candidate for an exercise program.

With a minimum of 8,500 steps a day, Dr. Church says health benefits are astounding. Here's a short list of the benefits:

  • Reduced risk of diabetes

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Minimal risk of heart attack/stroke

  • Reduction of certain cancers

  • Reduced stress

  • Improved mood/lower depression

  • Better bone and joint health

  • Faster recovery from illness

  • Decreased belly fat

  • Improved sex life

    Desk Jockey Step Challenge

    When most people take the step challenge they are floored at how little they move throughout the day. Strapping on a pedometer can be the pivotal motivator in your daily routine. Here's how your steps affect your health:

    Below 4,500 steps: Very Sedentary

    4,500-5,500 steps: Sedentary

    5,500-7,500 steps: Improved

    7,500-8,500 steps: Active

    8,500 and above: Graduate to Exercise Program

    Tim Church, M.D., M.P.H, Ph.D, is the Professor of Preventative Medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University and specializes in public health and general preventative medicine. He has authored over 100 research abstracts, over 50 articles and has received numerous awards for his research. Church is frequently used as an expert on national interviews regarding obesity and exercise and has been interviewed by such outlets as NBC's Today show, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, CNN and is the co-author of Move Yourself (Wiley 2008). Church earned is Medical Degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.

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