It has been said recently - “Sitting is the new smoking”.
Although very few activities can compare to the health hazards of smoking, it is true that a sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to our health- not only to the body, but to the mind as well.
The human body is a miraculous creation. Even though I’ve been a fitness professional for over 14 years, it still amazes me to observe the body, as it effortlessly moves in all directions, freely, with perfect control of the movements that make up our daily life. This gift of movement is something that we must never take for granted! The benefits of frequent and mindful movement can be life changing. It has been proven that intermittent activity, spread throughout the day, can increase your lifespan by over 5 years. Not only does regular movement and activity add years to your life, it adds life to your years as well.
Have you ever heard the term “If you don’t use it, you lose it”? This certainly holds true when it comes to flexibility, range of motion, and overall conditioning of our bodies. As we get older, our muscular and skeletal systems begin to experience a reduced range of motion, especially when it is not used frequently or stimulated with regular movements. It is essential for us to keep moving! Motion keeps us young, healthy, and enhances our personal performance in everyday life. In addition to the fact that regular movement helps keep us limber and flexible, all forms of movement are metabolically demanding, meaning that it burns calories, which will lead to a more desirable body composition. The most basic habit change that we can make in our daily life is to simply move more often, and the results are unquestionably worth the effort.
Here are three tips to help you take a more active and mindful approach to your daily energy expenditure and health efforts, simply by increasing your overall movement.
- While at work, where you typically spend a large portion of your day sitting, be sure to stand up frequently, get yourself a glass of water, and, when appropriate, bend down and touch your toes. Hold this toe-touch position for at least 20 seconds. This will increase your circulation, optimise your blood pressure, and stretch your hamstrings, which are the usual culprits for a tight (and painful) lower back.
- While at home, be aware of the amount of time that you are spending in a seated or sedentary position. Periodically commit to a quick 10-minute walk, or perform your favorite yoga poses for several minutes, or if you prefer, do a few sets of body weight squats or lunges. Even a set of 20-30 jumping jacks would be great! We must not underestimate the power of motion. The most basic and simple movements such as walking, or bending down to touch your toes, or doing household chores, when consciously performed throughout your day, have multiple benefits that are well worth the extra effort.
- While at the gym, challenge yourself to do more functional training, and incorporate more dynamic and multi-directional exercise movements to your programme. What exactly is functional training? Functional training is a term for exercises that compliment the natural patterns and movements of our body. For example, many body-weight exercises are “functional” as they challenge the body in such a way that is directly beneficial to the functions and movements of our daily life. These usually include exercises that involve a large range of motions, which will enhance flexibility and increase our functional strength, while reducing our potential for injury in our everyday lives.
I hope that after reading this, you become inspired to make that little extra effort to increase your movement in your everyday life. Your body and mind will thank you!