You were built to move. Your body is a glorious machine of intricate moving parts that let you walk, run, bend, lift, carry, jump, dance, swim, play…just move. Dr. James Chestnut said, “Sitting is to the body like sugar is to the teeth.” Sitting, or more generally a lack of movement, is deteriorating to your body. This month I’m challenging you to move your body.
Our modern world allows many comforts and requires relatively little physical effort. On a daily basis, many people, particularly those in office jobs, walk less than 3,000 steps and don’t lift or carry more than a baby, briefcase or bag of groceries. The advances that have created this common scene may be great for our way of life, but in many ways are detrimental to our well-being. While nearly constant sitting is degenerative to the body, movement engages and improves your entire system – mind, body and spirit.
The benefits of movement are many.
• You build muscle strength and bone.
• You increase your stamina and aerobic capacity.
• You release endorphins that make you feel happy.
• You pump the body full of oxygen which it needs to operate.
• You release toxins through your breath and sweat.
• You release stress and tension.
• You support a healthy nervous system and therefore a healthy mind and body.
… And so many more good things!
I have the good fortune of doing work that keeps me moving all day, but it is usually standing or walking at a slow pace. I need to intentionally get moving in other ways to raise my heart rate and build strength and endurance. I purposefully add more movement into my life by working out with a trainer and with my tribe at boot camp. I take walks and ride my bike.
Most people spend most of their day sitting: sitting in the car, sitting at their desk, sitting in meetings, sitting watching TV or playing video games or on social media. Adding or increasing the movement in your day-to-day life will give you all the benefits above and more.
Like most things, you can’t go from zero to 60 overnight. This is something you need to build up over time. If you do no exercise at all right now, don’t start training for a marathon tomorrow. Start small and build up. Add in more movement in your day-to-day activities.
Here’s your healthy habit challenge – add more movement into your life. Here are ways to help you make that happen:
1. Start small and keep it doable. You can build up your capacity. Do simple things that don’t shake up your daily life.
a. Park farther away at work or when you go to a store or the movies. Give yourself extra distance to walk and leave that closer space for someone who needs it.
b. Take the stairs.
c. Hold walking meetings. If you’re meeting with a colleague at work, have your conversation while taking a lap around the building. If you’re meeting a friend for coffee to catch up, consider meeting at a park instead.
d. Move while watching TV. Either march in place or use hand weights while watching your favorite shows. If you have exercise equipment in the house, put it in front of the TV. At the very least get up and move during commercials…do jumping jacks or floor exercises.
2. Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of walking a few times a week will dramatically improve your health. I say start where you are. If 10 minutes down the block and back is what you can do, then start there and build up.
3. Stretch. Stretching is not only a good preventative measure to keep injuries at bay; it also is supportive of muscular skeletal and nervous system health. Give your body a good stretch each morning and night as well as before and after exercise.
Whether you already have an active life and exercise regularly or not, these tips can help get more movement into your life. If you’ve been sedentary for a long time, start where you are and build from there. If you are already active, shake it up and try something new.
That’s your healthy habit assignment for this month! Get moving!
I encourage you to write in a personal journal throughout the year about the small changes you make and the big shifts you feel.