What exercise has become
Do you want to be more active but feel like you don’t have enough time exercise? Do you think of exercise as something you should do or have to do? I think that “exercise” has developed a bad rap over the past couple decades, and a lot of trainers like myself are to blame. Exercise has been “prescribed” as so many sessions per week, so many hours per session, so many sets and reps, and with so many rules to be followed. That sucks. No one likes being told what to do and having little say over it. So exercise has become a chore, its become work, its become dreaded.
Let’s just move instead
I think it’s time to redefine “exercise”. It doesn’t have to be an hour logged at the gym. It doesn’t have to be three sets of ten reps and require a benches, weights, or machines. It doesn’t have to be running on the treadmill. It can be these things. But it doesn’t have to be these things.
Being active and “exercising” just means moving your body. You can move your body in any way you want to so rather than “exercising”, just engage in activities that are fun for you or that you enjoy. And it doesn’t have to be an hour – it can be 5 minutes of movement. And you can move your body all throughout your day in all kinds of different ways. Some stretching before breakfast. A 15 minute walk on your break. Dancing in your underwear as you brush your teeth. A bike ride after work. Basketball with the boys on the weekend. A hike with the dog. Push-ups with your kid on your back or races in the backyard.
Moving periodically throughout your day helps relieve chronic pain by loosening up our joints and bringing necessary fluids and nutrients to our bones, tendons, and muscles.
Moving your body more throughout your day improves your cardiovascular and respiratory fitness.
Moving your body in different ways throughout the day recruits more of your muscles in lots of different ways, making you stronger and giving you more endurance.
Moving more strengthens your bones, making them more dense and more resistant to fractures, especially important as we age.
Moving not only makes you fitter, it also makes you smarter. Research has consistently shown that light-intensity exercise helps you to better retain what you’ve learned and also improves your memory.
Moving your body more changes the way your genes express themselves. This means that even if you have inherited certain genes that increase certain health risks, you can decrease those risks just by moving a little more.
So stop exercising…just move and have fun (don’t forget the fun)
I know everyone is time crunched and we might not all have time to exercise in a traditionally defined sense – but we all have time to move.
What does “light exercise” look like in the above mentioned studies? Things like walking or an easy bike ride. Nothing too complicated or with too many rules. Just moving your body rather than sitting or standing still. This type of movement provides the brain with just enough arousal to make us smarter, lubes and nourishes the joints, feeds the muscles and tendons and removes waste, gets the heart pumping (it’s a muscle, too), and gets the lungs working.
The best part is, it doesn’t matter what you do. Just move and have fun!
When was your last adventure? Remember when we were kids and everyday was an adventure? Recapture some of that magic, go run, climb, play, explore, discover – just be a kid again. Go outside and play. No rules.
The possibilities are endless…
Got 5 minutes? Spend them moving – dance, do a couple stretches, bust out some jumping jacks, shadow box, chase your dog or your kids, do a lap around the office, climb a tree, crawl around like a baby, or do a couple sprints.
Got 20 minutes? Do something you enjoy! Go for a walk or a bike ride, make your local park an obstacle course and just run around and jump over stuff and climb stuff, practice yoga, run (or walk or jump or skip), tackle some stairs, go for nightly stroll with a loved one (human or animal), hit the heavy bag, or lift some heavy things.
Got longer? Go for a hike, bike or a swim, play in the sand at the beach, start up a game of frisbee golf, grab your board, or go on an adventure.
Want some more structured yet playful resources? Check out MovNat or this workout from Underground Wellness.