How Much Movement?

I am frequently asked by my clients how often I exercise. I think they are probably hoping I will say – not that much and you don’t have to do much either! You and they know, however, that I won’t say that. Almost all of us need to exercise more (and I will say more about that in my next post – How Much Exercise?). Even more importantly, almost all of us need to MOVE more.

What’s the difference, you ask? EXERCISE is an activity that is focused on a particular kind of movement with particular goals that you have set aside anything from 10 minutes to an hour to achieve. It is walking, yoga, pilates, tennis, working out at the gym, basketball, rock climbing, hiking, salsa dancing etc etc. MOVEMENT is just not being static. It includes the prescribed exercise that happens once, twice or three times a week in a class. But it is mostly what your body does (or doesn’t do) in the approximately 112 other waking hours in your week.

More and more research is showing that being static is pretty bad for us. Being static and sedentary adversely affects our health, our joints and soft tissues, even our brains. Sitting is the new smoking, but now that many people are getting standing desks we are realising that standing statically isn’t that much better. We are animals and we are designed to move. In the natural world we would have to use our bodies to find and prepare food (and therefore have physically worked for the calories we are consuming – but that’s another post on why so many of us struggle with our weight) as well as build and maintain our shelter, run away from predators, etc. In our modern world almost no movement is required of us as we move from bed to car/bus to office chair to sofa.

So how do we incorporate more movement into our daily lives when our modern life is designed around sedentary behaviour? We have to consciously make it happen by giving ourselves prompts:

  • Set a timer on your phone to beep every 15 minutes to remind you to do a quick stretch.
  • Every time you send an email get up from your desk, wiggle around, then sit back down in a slightly different position.
  • Walk around when you are talking on the phone.
  • Put your laptop in different places – at a standing desk, on your dining table so you sit on a chair, on your coffee table so you have to sit down cross-legged or kneeling to use it. And change that place every 15 or 20 minutes.
  • Stand and ‘surf’ on the tube or bus rather than sitting.
  • Get up every time the ads come on TV.
  • Get down on the floor to play with your kids/read a book/file your nails.
  • Squat rather than bend over to fold the laundry.
  • Every time you walk through a doorway reach up with both hands and tap the top of the frame.
  • Whenever you walk past your husband/wife/partner/pet, grab them and do a little jig or slow dance together for a moment (they will love it – don’t we all need more attention?!) Or it could be a quick shadow box if they’ve been annoying you…

At this point I am making things up, and so can you.

It’s not that hard to put more movement into practise if you make a decision to do so. Start now! Stand up and wiggle. Or go out for a walk (because soon I will post about more EXERCISE).