I spend a fair amount of time learning from others. Books, podcasts, social media, etc. Experienced and knowledgeable fitness and health professionals help me become a better trainer because I can incorporate their ideas into my programming and the information I share with clients. One such brilliant individual is Katy Bowman. Her books have opened my eyes to the importance of movement outside of exercise and how convenience is tied to changes in our bodies, our health, and our environment.
I live in a culture that values convenience. If you live in the US, you probably do too. Products that make tasks easier are often number one sellers. We build our daily and weekly routines to make living more streamlined and efficient. We pay more for pre-processed packaged products and order goods to be delivered directly to our car or our front door. And all of this has a cost beyond the bank account.
We have largely reduced the amount of energy, time, AND movement needed to complete activities required for living, at least on our end. Katy refers to this as outsourcing movement. (Others work, so we don't have to as much. If you are interested in learning more about that as well as environmental impacts, read her book Movement Matters). This is supposed to free up our valuable time for other endeavors: presumably leisure and life-enhancing activities. But often it ends up that we spend that “extra” time working more hours or in activities where we are sedentary. Many of us can lead very productive lives without moving much from our desks, couches, and cars. We can also be entertained and socialize without leaving home or even getting up. BUT we need movement for healthy, functioning bodies. A few exercise sessions per week, while important, aren’t a replacement for regular and varied movement throughout the day.
We aren’t lazy. We are working. But we aren’t moving and it’s costing us. One of those costs is that it has literally become harder for us to move. Our jobs and habits keep us tied to our desks and computers or phones. As a result, our bodies adapt to the positions in which we spend a lot of time. Shoulders become rounded. Weaker gluteus muscles. Tight, short hip flexors. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with greater incidence of arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems. Our bodies are meant to move and we have "convenienced" ourselves out of that movement.
As with most things, improvement is much easier said than done! A lot of jobs require hours spent on the computer and if you have deadlines or are very busy, regular breaks aren’t always available. Building more movement into your day is a necessity that requires a bit of forethought and planning. In addition, research suggests human beings are predisposed to conserve energy. Many of us may have gotten a little too good at it! Let's go over some ways you can bring more movement back into your life.
The discipline of writing something down is the first step towards making it happen.
Forty realistic things to do/continue doing/stop doing in less than four months (in no particular order):
1. Travel to a place I’ve never been (One down Pass-a-Grille, FL 6/2019)
2. Try SUP (stand-up paddle boarding)
3. Go see a local band
4. Buy a lottery ticket (Done! Not a winner!)
5. Try 4 new-to-me restaurants (Done!)
6. Learn how to make Finnish braided bread and do it
7. Buy an outfit that’s out of character…better yet, let a friend choose (Done!)
8. Celebrate with friends (Done x2)
9. Meet my dad for the first time in a decade (Done x2)
10. Finish my home office (Done!)
11. Go to a local coffee shop (Done!)
12. Create a big list of things to do before 50! (Working on it!)
13. Eat a vegetable I’ve never had before (Done!)
14. Try a new hairstyle or color (Got it cut shorter than I've ever had it!)
15. Watch the sunset with Tony (Done!)
16. Read 4 more books (Done!)
17. Toes in sand, beer in hand (Done!)
18. Schedule a regular massage (May done, June done, July done!)
19. Take a short trip with mom (This fall)
20. Run a 5K (wasn't up for extra cardio -teaching a lot of Jazzercise classes right now!)
A task each day for 12 days is totally do-able, right?
Practice belly (diaphragmatic) breathing for at least one minute.
Many of us hold tension in our upper bodies and don’t even realize how shallow we breathe. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach. Breathe in deeply though your nose. You should feel your stomach rise before your chest. Feel your rib cage expand. Exhale. Set a timer for one minute and repeat. You will be amazed at how great you feel when you are done!
Drink two 8 to 12 oz glasses of water within the first two hours of getting up. As you sleep, you lose water via respiration and through your skin. You need to replace it! It is a great habit to develop and puts you on track for better hydration. Cheers!
Write down three things you are grateful for right now. 💕
Practicing gratitude has been shown to improve physical and psychological health, opens the door to more relationships, and increases mental strength.
It's okay to be general and include family, health, and home. However, it can be even more powerful to tune into what you are specifically grateful for in THIS moment.
Aim for 2 to 4 servings of veggies today! 🥦🥕🌶🥒 I know it can be tough if you aren’t a fan. What’s on your plate?
Make a list of your top priorities (no more than 5) for tomorrow morning before going to sleep. Writing this down can lessen anxiety you may have about all you need to do leading to a more restful night's sleep. AND it makes for a more productive morning! ✔️✔️
Unless you regularly go to classes that incorporate it, you may not get balance exercises in your weekly routine. It is important to occasionally challenge your balance. Try this: Balance on your right leg. Bring your left knee up waist high.
Extend arms out to side (like an airplane ✈️) Perform arm circles forward for a count of eight. Repeat in the other direction.
How was your balance? 👍 Now try it on the other side. ✔️ Too easy? Try it again but close your eyes!