Movement is powerful, not simply as a means of locomoting from one place to another but rather as a means to keep our bodies and minds functioning at optimal levels.
When we sit all day long, our bodies and minds become stagnant. You’ve seen stagnant ponds, right? Stagnant = no good.
But when we break up our sitting bouts with bouts of movement, we get everything flowing again, bringing nourishment to our minds, joints, muscles, organs, and cells.
You’ve seen flowing rivers and creeks, right? Flowing = way good.
Movement quite literally gets your cardiovascular system, your respiratory system, your digestive system, your neurological systems, your endocrine systems, and your musculoskeletal system moving, flowing, and functioning. That’s why exercise is recommended for a whole host of diseases and disorders, everything from depression and anxiety to obesity and diabetes to chronic pain and arthritis. It even helps people fight addictions and battle insomnia.
Movement is like a magic pill. And it’s free.
Many of us spend a great deal of time on our behinds because that’s how our world is structured now. We sit in our cars to commute to and from work, errands, and other responsibilities. Throughout the day we sit at our desks, sit in meetings, and sit down for meals. When we get home we sit at the computer or plop down on the couch to watch TV. Sitting, sitting, sitting, all the live-long day.
Even if we exercise the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate activity (everyone does that, right?), it’s not enough to counteract all that sitting. If you sit all day, you’re still at a higher risk for cardiometabolic diseases like strokes, hypertension, and diabetes, even if you hit the gym or trail a couple nights a week and on weekends.
Formal exercise is important, but it’s not everything. Movement is everything.
Just moving more a bit throughout your day, breaking up those sitting bouts, will begin to improve your mental and physical health. It doesn’t have to be crazy movement, it really may just need to be NOT SITTING for a while every hour. Set yourself an hourly reminder on your phone or computer (or download an app like Workrave) and move around for a bit. Stand up, stretch it out, or go for a quick walk, even if it’ s just a few minutes.
Add in longer bouts of movement a few times a day, too. About 10 minutes (or more) of continuous movement a couple times throughout your work day will actually help make you more productive, even though you’re taking a break from your work. You’ll find yourself better able to focus and tackle whatever job is at hand than if you try to slog through your entire day with no breaks.
Getting up and moving for longer bouts not only gives your body a much needed refresher, it gives your mind a cognitive boost as well by getting the blood flowing, bringing more oxygen and nourishment to your joints, muscles, and BRAIN. Sometimes when we feel like we need a caffeine jolt in the afternoon to recharge our systems – we really just need to MOVE.
Need some movement ideas?
Maybe take a walk during your morning and afternoon break, or engage in a walking meeting with a colleague instead of meeting in your office, or do some yoga poses, push-ups, or tai chi behind your desk. Start packing lunches so you can take in a longer walk during your lunch break or even get in a short workout or run/jog if you can (and like doing that kind of stuff!).
I’m a huge advocate of getting outside during these longer bouts, though (even the short bouts!), because greenery, sunshine, and fresh air are also huge boosts for your body, mind, and spirit. And if you can commute to work on foot, on a bike, or even on public transportation, that’s bonus points!
When you get home at night, even if your tired, walk the dog with the whole family, no screens allowed, to allow everyone a chance to disconnect from work and school for a bit, relax, breathe, and connect with one another. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, my nightly walks with my husband and my dog are my favorite parts of my day! It’s awesome. Or start your day with walk. (Or do both!).
Find ways of getting in some movement that you enjoy…
The key point is, it doesn’t matter how you move as long as your moving. Even if it’s just a few more minutes each day, moving a bit more and sitting a bit less will do your body (and mind) a world of good. So find a way to move that you enjoy and do it often.
Here are some resources if you want some ideas on ways to move.
Want to spend some unstructured time outdoors, exploring, discovering, and wandering some wonderful trails? Check out All Trails.
Want to play and explore the world around you like a kid again? Want to move again like our bodies were designed to, as an integrated whole, to be functional and fit? Climb, jump, crawl, squat, pull, push, move stuff, balance, and other fun things with MovNat.
Want more traditional body-weight fun, like old-school calisthenics or amped up some plyometrics? Check out Mark Sisson’s recent post on why body weight exercises are all most of us need.
Or if you prefer heading to the gym, lifting weights, and more traditional strength training, check out Nerd Fitness for a fresh take.
Prefer to tap into your inner yogi? Check out Gaiam TV.