Do you spend most of the day sitting in front of a computer and then most of the night sitting in front of the TV? We’ve become very sedentary in our daily lives. Some of us spend upwards of 10-15 hours a day just sitting.
Do you have a treadmill or exercise equipment in your basement gathering dust and being used as a coat rack? Me too!
Maybe you’ve found something you love to do but you don’t do it often enough to see any real benefits?
There are many barriers to regular activity. Instead of movement and physical activity being a part of our day-to-day lives, we need to make special arrangements to schedule it in. Some have termed this “compensatory movement” that’s used to make up for the lack of movement during the day.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that purposeful exercise, like going to the gym, isn’t important. But imagine if movement was simply built into your every day?
Research is concluding that all activity and movement counts. Anthropologists are showing that one of the keys to the lives of societies that live the longest, is natural movement. A long life is now seen as determined only 25 per cent by genetics and 75 per cent by lifestyle behaviours and culture. Longevity and, even more importantly, the quality of your life, are dependent on movement and lots of it.
Your body was designed to move. And when you don’t move your physical health deteriorates. The great thing that happens is when you start to become more active on a regular basis, you actually start enjoying it. And your motivation shifts from an external goal like losing 10 lbs, fitting into that bathing suit, or getting ready for your wedding, to coming from within because it just feels good!
Here are my eight tips to help get you moving in the right direction:
1. Let go of the word exercise.
Think of it as increasing your movement throughout the day. Look at your whole life and see the role that movement plays. Do you minimize movement at all costs? Do you take the short cuts? Get co-workers to pick up your lunch instead of walking to the cafe yourself? Shift your mindset to start thinking about moving instead of conserving all the time.
2. Find ways to move during the day.
Any and all movement counts. Take the stairs. Park in the last row of cars. Stand more. Walk on your lunch hour. Have walking meetings. Walk to the mailbox after dinner. Get up every hour from your desk and stretch, grab some water and take a quick stroll. The more you move the better you will feel and the results will start to show.
3. Build in a component of purposeful exercise.
In addition to your daily movement, it’s useful to consciously schedule in time for some more purposeful activity that will get your heart rate up, build and tone muscles, and loosen up the joints. Whatever works for you — weight training, a yoga class, a longer brisk walk, jog, bike ride, tennis, dance class. Find something you enjoy and book it in.
4. Get a dog.
A study in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health took previous data and compared the walking habits of dog owners to people who don’t own dogs. It’s no big shocker, they found that dog owners walked more each week than people without dogs, and that dog people were more likely to meet the recommended physical activity requirements than pooch-less people.
5. Don’t go it alone.
One of the most important success factors when you start making lifestyle changes is support. Find a friend to sign up for a yoga class with. Ask your neighbour to join you for a morning run. Check out weekend hiking groups. If you have a buddy or a group to move with you will be much more apt to do it. Maybe it’s a fitness trainer you need to really make a difference in your weekly workouts. Having a support builds in accountability which is key.
6. Track your movement.
Another aspect that really helps to stick to it, is to track your weekly movement. It can be as simple as a small notepad where you keep a daily log or as fancy as one of the many new monitoring devices that you wear and can connect to your computer to gain all kinds of useful information. There are apps for smart phones. You can wear a pedometer through the day or keep a daily calendar on your fridge.
7. Make sure your body has good nutrition.
It’s tough to move and be active if you don’t have the proper energy and fuel to do so. Plus, you don’t want to sabotage the good efforts by eating junk and empty calories after a great workout. You want a diet of real whole nutrient dense foods and lots of water to give you the energy you need to move, replenish and rebuild. Make your food work for you instead of against you.
8. Get proper rest and relaxation.
Adequate rest and sleep help regenerate the energy needed to perform movement. Sleep and rest also build the immune system and keep you healthy and able to move each day. When you are working the muscles more than you are used to, they’ll be tender and sore at first. Sleep is when your body rebuilds and heals.
*This post was originally published in the Herald Community on May 28, 2014