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I want to discuss the importance of movement with you. And then see if you like any of the 10 Easy Ways to Add Movement to Your Day. Maybe you have some of your own tips to share.
Lots of Sitting
I was browsing the internet the other day and came across an article that stated that the average person spends 6.5 hours a day sitting. Does that seem like a lot to you? It did to me. And yet I know there are days I’m here at my computer, researching, checking Facebook, reading emails, and writing. I see my husband taking online classes and my son scrolling through YouTube videos and playing Minecraft.
Looking at the article again, I imagine people working in offices probably sit that long daily for their jobs. I mean what else can they do unless they have one of those standing desks like I do? (I admit I don’t use it in the standing position as often as I should, but my body sure does appreciate it when I think to use it.) But I imagine if surveys are showing the average person spends 6.5 hours a day sitting, that’s a lot more than the population of people at their office jobs. The thought made me look more.
Was this statistic in more than one source? I found it again in the Washington Post in an article from 2019. Inverse.com reported an even higher number for ages 12-19 at an average of 8.2 hours (their source was a study reported in JAMA). A recent discovery and discussion we had in our home with our own pre-teen confirmed this. He was definitely not getting anywhere near my own personal goal of 10,000 steps a day. A goal he would have easily beat a year ago. This was unfortunately due to his increased amount of time sitting around looking at his screens through the day.
An article from the Mayo Clinic (2020) reports the generally understood fact that this amount of sitting is a fairly new problem to our human world. The article goes on to say that 90% of the world, long ago, lived in agricultural communities. At that time people sat for maybe 3-5 hours per day, usually in between work and tasks. That article said that modern American’s sit for up to 13-15 hours per day! Somehow this doesn’t necessarily surprise me – but it’s still disturbing.
The lack of physical activity is surely to our demise.
Dr. Jean-Phillipe Chaput, Senior Scientist with the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the CHEO Research Institute, states, “Physical inactivity has become so prevalent that it is common to refer to exercise as having ‘healthy benefits,’ even through the exercise-trained state is the biological normal condition.” It’s like we have become so, dare I say, addicted to the easy way of things- that we don’t think about physical activity and how it really should be a normal part of our days. But alas, it’s true. Most of us, myself included, just do not make it part of our natural day unless we make a plan to do so.
But Movement Is SO IMPORTANT!
Research has shown that DAILY movement really does matter. It doesn’t, however, matter HOW you get it – just that you get it. And so, I’m not going to be one to tell you that you need to join a gym or even a fitness class. You certainly can if you would like to and have the money and time. Instead, I’ll give you some more tips down below to add movement more easily into your day, but hold on here for a minute so I can clarify just WHY it’s important.
In 2018, The Journal of the American Heart Association published a report that indicated people who get less than 20 minutes of activity daily showed increased risk of death. This same report indicated that people who got 60 minutes of activity each day could cut their risks by 57%. A lack of daily movement also appears to be one of the leading causes of weight gain. Being physically active can certainly lower your risk of obesity. Daily exercise (movement) is even necessary for the lymphatic system, a key component to our immune system.
Movement is not only important to our physical bodies and lymphatic system, but our mental health is also affected. There appears to be strong evidence to support a relationship between sedentary lifestyles and psychological distress, depressive symptoms, and generally poor mental health. Exercise may actually boost mood when a brain protein (BDNF) increases, helping nerve fibers grow. Exercise is often used as part of treatment protocols for depression.
Do you often hear older people complaining of joint pain as they age? Most people assume it’s just a part of getting old, but should it be? Research has shown that that cartilage (connective tissue covering the ends of long bones and joints) begins to undergo deterioration in the absence of movement. Joint movement is also linked to fluid transport which provides nutrients to joints. If we slow our movement, we limit this process.
10 Easy Ways to Add Movement to Your Day
These are of course just a few of the reasons that movement is important. I can’t imagine that you would disagree. But what to do? Our schedules are so full already. How do we add one more thing? Well, if you really don’t have time to add a lot of exercise routine into your day, consider these 10 easy ways to add movement to your day.
- Park Further Away – It may not add up to a ton of steps, but it doesn’t add much time to your day either. Part at the end of the lot when you go grocery shopping. Park even a few spaces away from your usual parking spot. Small progress is still progress.
- Set a Timer – Use your phone or Smartwatch and set an hourly timer as a reminder to get up and stretch or walk. Our house has a wall between the kitchen, dining area, and foyer. It makes a great circle to walk around and take a short break – maybe 5 rounds every 30 – 60 minutes. It’s just a few minutes, but it makes a difference to my back and loosens up my muscles.
- Take the Stairs – If it’s just a floor or two, why not take the stairs instead of the elevator? I just read that you can burn an estimated 3-5 calories per flight of stairs. I’m not one to count calories, and one of these days I’ll probably post about that, but if you are, use that as a motivator. If you need to take the elevator and no one is watching (or don’t care if they are), jog in place for the few moments it takes you to get to your floor.
- Walk on the Treadmill While you Watch Netflix – I know you’re tired at the end of the day and just want to chill, but why not take 15-30 minutes of that time to walk, WHILE you’re watching your show? If 15 seems like too much, try 5 or 10. Baby Steps (literally). I watch my Netflix shows in the morning when I get up and yes, on the treadmill. Pick a time that works for you.
- Family Outings -Plan family outings that involve physical activity. My family likes to go hiking together. If that doesn’t suit you, improve your frisbee skills in the backyard. Maybe roller skating? Or just take a walk in the nearest park. Find something you can all enjoy or take turns coming up with something new to try.
- Extra Laps – Take a few extra laps around the grocery store when you go shopping. My husband and I have both done this, especially when the weather is bad, and we can’t get our walking done outdoors.
- Dance – Put the music on and dance like no one is watching 😊
- Call a Friend -Walk around the house (or office) when you are on a phone call. I remember the days when the phone was plugged into the wall, and we had those long stretch cords (bear with me if you are too young to remember that). I used to walk around in circles. I guess I just didn’t like to sit still then. Our Smartphones make it even easier. You don’t even need to stay in the same room. Walk around while you are talking.
- Multitask in the Kitchen – Sure, we get some steps in making dinner and washing dishes, but we could also throw a few stretches, counter-pushups, or lunges in between those things. Or when you’re brushing your teeth. Or before you settle down to watch a movie. Just think about when you can fit in a few stretches, lunges, push-ups or jumping jacks into your normal routine.
- Get a Fitbit – This is honestly my favorite suggestion that I find the most helpful. Get a Fitbit. Seriously. Or another type of tracker. Track your steps. This has helped me tremendously to be aware of my movement and to not only be aware but to challenge myself. I was nowhere near the suggested 10,000 steps a day when I first got mine. It took awhile to get there. But once I did, I also became aware of how my body speaks to me when I don’t. Those aches and pains are there only in the weeks I become more sedentary. When I make the effort to meet my step goal, they go away. I like this Fitbit tracker but find the one that works best for you.
I encourage you to pick just 2 of these ideas and write them down on a piece o paper or in a journal and put them into your wellness basket. Or write them on your calendar. Maybe a note on the refrigerator? Put them somewhere as a reminder. Try to really incorporate them into your day. Try it for a week. Then come back here and tell me how it went!
Comment below and tell me which ones you are going to try. Do you have tips of your own you would like to share?