[Podcast] Ep83: How Being Sedentary Is Killing You (According to NASA)

If you work in one position all day long, whether sitting, standing, or otherwise, it’s important to understand how gravity is negatively affecting your health when you are sedentary. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Sitting is the New Smoking,” but it goes much deeper than that.

My guest in this episode is Dr. Joan Vernikos, the former director of the Life Sciences Division at NASA and author of the book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals. She is one of the world’s foremost experts on stress from a physiological perspective. Having worked on the team that helped put men on the moon as well as helping John Glenn return safely to Earth, she knows as much as there is to be known about how the human body is affected by gravity, both positively and negatively.

If you have any intention of being healthy enough to play with your grandchildren someday, this episode is a must-listen and will blow your mind. Everything you thought you knew about exercise and movement will most likely change after learning what Dr. Joan has discovered in her 4 decades of research for NASA.

Topics of Conversation:

  • Joan’s background studying the first astronauts at NASA
  • The physiological effects of gravity
  • How astronauts are affected by micro gravity
  • The problem with exercise in space
  • Why the circulatory system needs the stimulation of gravity
  • The surprising parallels between being sedentary and being in space
  • How your body is like an instrument that needs to be tuned
  • Misdiagnoses of pre-diabetic symptoms
  • Why exercise does not guarantee healthy living
  • A few reasons why you should be standing instead of “waiting” when visiting a doctor’s office
  • NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity) movement
  • What moving every 30 minutes can do to improve overall health
  • How to recognize the symptoms of being too sedentary
  • Joan’s final experiment at NASA and how the body is stimulated by physical change
  • 5 practical ways to alter routines and maximize cognitive function
  • How standing and sitting can be good for you
  • Joan’s upcoming book “Designed to Move”
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” by John Ratey, MD

Useful Links:

Joan’s Website

Joan’s Book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals

Optimize Yourself

Guest Bio:

Born to Greek parents in Alexandria Egypt Joan Vernikos earned her PhD in pharmacology at the University of London before coming to teach Pharmacology to Medical Students at Ohio State University. Recruited in 1964 to join NASA’s Ames Research Center, CA because of her research expertise in stress, she later pioneered work on how living with minimal gravity in Space adversely affects the health of astronauts. This led to her formulate the similarities between living in Space and the aging process here on Earth. In 1998 as NASA’s Director of Life Sciences, she was instrumental in the return to space of American hero John Glenn at the age of 77. To bring her ideas to the public eye, Dr. Joan has published several books that present simple and effective plans for maintaining good health throughout life. They include The G-Connection: harness gravity and reverse Aging (1904), Stress Fitness for Seniors (2009) and Sitting Kills Moving Heals (2011) that launched awareness of the health problems of our sedentary lifestyles. Her latest books, Designed to Move, as well as, Stress Beyond 50 will be published in 2016.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, the show notes were prepared by Jakin Rintelman, and this show is executive produced by Kanen Flowers. We are a member of the THAT STUDIO podcast network.

The music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Dorian Cheah from his brilliant album ARA.

Zack Arnold is an award-winning film & television editor (Burn Notice, Empire, Shooter, Glee), member of the American Cinema Editors, a documentary director (GO FAR: The Christopher Rush Story), and creator of the Optimize Yourself program (formerly ‘Fitness In Post’). He helps ambitious creative professionals like you learn how to more efficiently manage your time, energy, and attention so you can maximize your creative focus and minimize procrastination, depression, and burnout. After all, what’s the point of killing yourself for the sake of your career if you don’t have energy to spare for the most important people in your life?