If movement were food, most of us would be starving due to lack of movement. The amount of movement our body requires in order to function optimally is a lot. Way, way more than the US government physical activity recommendation for active adults of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate activity each WEEK.
You wouldn't consume your food needs all in one daily meal, or three meals during the week, and expect to feel good. You wouldn't spend 22 minutes breathing a whole bunch and assume you'd met your oxygen needs for the whole day. That's absurd.
And it's equally absurd to think that you'd meet your body's movement requirements in 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate activity each week and that the amount you move during the remaining 165.5 hours is irrelevant because you think you've met your movement RDA so-to-speak.
Are you starving?
Movement plays a crucial role in a mind-boggling array of body functions - waste removal, digestion, circulation, cellular repair, genetic expression and production of a wide array of important chemical messengers, to name just a few.
Incidentally, these are things that happen around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Just like you wouldn't expect your body to run well if it's underfed, or under oxygenated, your body can't run well if it's under moved aka movement starved.
It's time to look at the role movement starvation plays in things like pelvic floor issues, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, constipation, osteoporosis and more instead of assuming these things are “totally normal because I’m not as young as I used to be”.
Something as simple as walking for 5 minutes every 30 minutes (which is very different than walking 22 minutes once a day), can decrease your cardiovascular risk factors and yet, how easy is it to get engrossed in work at the office and not get up for hours or sit for a couple hours every evening watching TV or both?
The greatest roadblock to more movement, is actually your mind.
How to get in more movement without needing more time
Now, before you panic over how in the world you're going to find time to move more, the good news is there are many, many ways to increase your daily movement intake that require minimal time.
You probably do laundry on a regular basis and have plenty of clothes to fold as a result. What if you added more movement to your folding clothes time?
I used to fold laundry standing at the bed. Now I fold laundry on the floor. I’m using more muscles to support my body and moving my joints through a variety of positions in the process. For those of you with a floor that isn't clean enough to fold clothes on (hello, dog hair!), just throw an old sheet or blanket down first.
Along with laundry, there’s food to be made and for a lot of us that means something needs to be cut up and chopped along the way.
You can stand at the counter and do this, which requires minimal movement, or you could once again take it down to the floor. Extra bonus points for taking it outside on a nice day and getting in some vitamin D and natural light.
More movement strategies
Other ways I get more movement in throughout my day:
- Walk my errands – if I don’t have time to walk the whole way, I’ll drive part way and walk part way
- Park at the back of the parking lot instead of driving around looking for a closer spot
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Stand at my desk, sit on the floor at my desk, kneel at my desk, squat at my desk
- Sit on the floor vs. a chair or couch which requires more of my muscles to actively support me and uses different joint positions
- Instead of piling my arms full so I can make just one trip from the car, now I make 2 or 3 trips.
A friend uses a smaller tea cup so she gets up more frequently to fill it.
A colleague who works from home moved her office upstairs to make things less convenient and encourage more movement.
choose movement over convenience
You’ll notice none of these suggestions are convenient.
It’s a big mindset shift to make things less convenient in exchange for more movement, especially while living in a culture where convenience is rules. At the same time, there's nothing convenient about arthritis or cardiovascular disease or any of the other ailments that movement starvation contributes to.
We have to get out of this mindset that there are short cuts to meeting the movement requirements that our body needs. There aren't.
Shifting that mindset and instead taking the approach that we are beings that require lots of movement, and movement variety, throughout our day, is going to do far more to support our health than 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity every WEEK. Which incidentally is a mere 1.5% of the number of hours we have in a week. We can do better than this. Our body requires it.
How can you make things less convenient so you can move more?