We should all be moving more. That’s the consensus most health-focused organizations and leaders have reached. Most of us spend our time at desk jobs, or sitting at home to read or watch TV, and while many of us might work out regularly, studies show that the best recipe for physical longevity is more movement. Working out? Great, amazing. But working more movement into your day all day every day? The best thing you can do.
The body is a machine designed for movement. Many years ago, in a galaxy far far away, people used to have to do considerably more things by hand. And I’m not just talking about the hunter/gatherers, who had to do pretty much everything by hand, including making their own tools, and catching their own food, and lighting their own fires, and so on. I’m thinking about our grandparents and great-grandparents, who perhaps farmed or had food gardens, who washed their clothes by hand, who had to walk to the post office or walk to the market or hang up the clothes on the line or pump their own water or grind their own coffee or churn their own (vegan! ha!) butter or crank their own ice cream or you get the idea. Bending, stretching, lifting, walking, reaching, balancing – the most essential kinds of human movements – used to be so much more a natural part of every day life. Life today is much more about convenience, and offers many benefits, except that we’ve eradicated a host of potential physical outlets for our body and we are suffering the consequences: stiff joints, weak muscles, and a few extra layers of pudge.
At a basic level, working out, bicycling, walking, lifting weights, going for a run, or walking the dog are all fantastic ways to start building structured physical activity into your life. To build more unstructured activity, though, and start building life patterns that are about movement as well as structured physical activity, read on!
6 Tips for Incorporating More MOVEMENT Into Your Life
- stand up to get dressed. Apparently many people sit on the bed to get dressed or to put on socks. Try standing. It is an opportunity to stand, albeit brief (depending on the complexity of your outfit, if course) and an opportunity to work on balance.
- stand to do your computer work at home. Assuming your computer or technological device of choice is portable, and you have a higher kitchen island or counter, you can blog or surf or chat or whathaveyou standing up.
- walk and talk on the phone. This is a fabulous one, I think. Just make it a mental rule that if someone calls you, you pace around while talking. Phone on, walk on. Simple as that. Or chat and stretch.
- dance while you prepare supper. Yes, I’m making this a real tip. Put on your favourite music or favourite radio station and hop while you chop (sorry, couldn’t resist). Taking an opportunity after a long day at work to swivel your hips, rotate your arms and shoulders, and bounce your legs can be just what your body needs after a day of repetitive or non-existent motion. Plus it is a way of acknowledging that the work day is done (if you work a 9-5) and the evening is beginning.
- stretch while you watch TV. The stretches can be very simple – you can develop a routine – but the body requires some flexing, every day. Muscles get stiff and snappy. TV time is a perfect solution. You can still watch your program, but you are a little bit active, and not just sitting in a chair where your muscles will continue to stiffen and tighten. If I watch TV, I stretch, period. And I can tell the difference.
- work on your balance. Reaching for a jar? Try balancing on your tip toes. Or while waiting in line, go up on your toes and back down again – works the calves and your balance. The human body is designed for agility and balance. Structured physical activity often is great for endurance and strength, but not as much for agility and balance. Try balancing on one leg while you brush your teeth (remembering to alternate legs). Many elderly people injure themselves following falls, and the falls occur because balance and coordination get harder to maintain as you are age. Take every opportunity to work on that special thing that is being able to stand on one leg and not topple over.
There are several other tips out there for increasing physical activity – structured and unstructured – every day. Are you familiar with these classics?
- ALWAYS take the stairs (barring an injury, this should just be a given);
- get up at least once an hour (if you can) at work to walk to the washroom or refill your water mug, or, conversely, sit down and rest your legs every once and a while if you have a stand-up job, or try to keep your legs moving at that stand-up job so the blood doesn’t pool in your legs. Also, whenever you are standing, avoid locking your knees.
- get off the bus a stop or two earlier, just for the walk.
- park a bit further away and savour that fresh air time before you get to work.
- bike or walk to work, if you can
- bike or walk for your weekly errands – try to buy groceries in carry-able batches
Do you have any other favourite tips?
Good luck with moving more! And for my Canadian readers, Happy Canada Day!
© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly