How Daily Movement Will Change Your Life
Did you know your body is like a garden gate?
They might seem like two totally different things at a glance, but stay with us because we’re going somewhere with this…
Think about an old, neglected gate. It never gets opened, weeds have grown up around it, and the hinges have seized with rust. You’re not getting through without some serious effort, and a can of WD40.
Now think about your body, and how it evolved over the last 6 or so million years. We are essentially not that different from our prehistoric ancestors, who spent their days running, catching, hunting and climbing.
Fast forward to today, where the average adult is sitting for an estimated 10 hours each day, and it’s easy to see why our bodies are developing health problems at unprecedented rates.
We’re not saying that your knees will start going rusty if you don’t use them, but our bodies are seizing up, and unlike that old rusty gate, we can’t just add a bit of WD40 to get us moving again.
In this week’s article, we’re going to look at movement, and why it is an essential, and often neglected component of our physical and mental health.
If you spend your days commuting in a car/bus/train, only to spend 8 hours at a desk before heading home to relax in your favourite armchair, then read on to see if we can convince you to move a little more!
Why Is Movement So Important
There are good reasons why sitting has been dubbed “the new smoking”. Here’s what happens inside your body after sitting for just 30 minutes:
- Your body shifts into a relaxed low energy-burning state
- Your metabolism slows down by as much as 90%
- The muscles in your lower body switch off and weaken over time
- Blood flow slows down causing fatty acids to build up in your heart, increasing the risk of heart disease
- LDL (bad) cholesterol starts to increase
- Blood sugar increases to abnormal levels
If you work a desk job, you might be thinking that you’re a ticking time bomb of health problems, but fortunately, there is some good news.
Getting up and moving around for just 5 minutes is enough to get things working and moving as they should, so tip number 1 is to set yourself a reminder to move every 30 minutes. This is a great start to get you on your way to negating the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
But that’s not all you can do…
How to Add Movement into Your Day
- Choose an active transport mode such as cycling or walking. If you can walk or bike to your destination, then ditch the car or bus and get your body moving instead!
- Take walks throughout your day. If you see an opportunity to take the stairs instead of a lift or escalator, then do it! The little things you do will all start adding up throughout your day.
- Take a walk while you make your phone calls. This is something you might already do, as research shows it’s a normal reaction to compensate for the lack of stimulus our brain gets compared to face-to-face conversations. If it’s not something you do, then give it a try!
- Try your hand at gardening! As any keen gardener will tell you, it can be quite the workout, involving all kinds of movement patterns such as squatting, lifting, bending and rotating. Don’t have a garden? Ask your parents, siblings, friends or neighbours if you can help out. They will be happy to receive a helping hand.
- Get yourself a standing or treadmill desk. These are all the rage at the moment, and while this might be a financial investment, the benefits they bring make it a worthwhile one.
- Join a club that will get you moving. It’s good to move, but it’s even better to move with friends! You could try dancing, martial arts, CrossFit, rowing, hiking, climbing or open water swimming just to name a few. If you’re interested in it, chances are that there are people in your area who are too!
So, now you’re incorporating all this lovely movement into your day, will you experience any benefits other than negating the effects of sitting?
Yes, you will!
Research has proven that people who walk more tend to have a lower risk of life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, breast cancer and heart disease. Something as simple as taking a brisk 20-minute walk can significantly improve your health and well-being.
improved joint functionality
Keeping your joints moving is essential if you want to keep them working as they should. The old adage “use it or lose it” is definitely an appropriate one here. By getting your joints involved in different movement patterns each day, you will:
- Keep your joints nourished with fresh synovial fluid, which stops your bones from “grinding” together.
- Prevent your tendons from becoming shorter and stiffer, enabling you to maintain a full range of motion
- Keep a healthy blood supply to the surrounding muscles which will deliver nutrients and oxygen
A boost your mental well-being
Regular physical activity and exercise has proven benefits for slowing the effects of age-related memory or cognitive decline. Exercise and movement can also be an effective and natural form of treatment for depression and has even been shown to be as effective as anti-depressants in some cases.
How Much Movement Should You Be Getting?
A report from the UK Chief Medical Officer recommends that adults engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity every week. Although this might sound daunting, you can (and should) spread this out over the week. It’s important to note that exercise won’t entirely cancel out the damage caused by sitting for long periods, so stay active during the day even if you plan on hitting the gym in the evening.
A Lesson We Can Learn from the World’s Healthiest People
Different researchers have conducted studies on areas named the blue zones - regions with the highest number of people living healthier and longer than average.
These regions are Icaria (Greece), Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Loma Linda (California), and Nicoya (Costa Rica).
Want to take a guess at what common trait all the residents of these locations share?
That’s right, they all incorporate movement into their lives on a daily basis! Rather than setting aside specific times dedicated to movement, like many of us do when we go running, swimming or gyming, the people from these areas tend to include movement into their lifestyles by moving naturally throughout their day.
The most important takeaway from all of this is that we do not need to be weightlifters, gym enthusiasts or marathon runners to enjoy the benefits of movement. By making some simple changes to our daily habits, we can all learn to move and feel better!
If you want to learn more about movement or how the body works, then get in touch with your local UCA registered chiropractor who will be happy to help!