Let’s get one thing clear, most of the incredible people here at Beingwell are not gym buffs, we’re not fitness fanatics or cross-trainer heroes. We’re a melting pot of geeky scientists, average Joes, Life Coaches, and well-being enthusiasts.
This is not a guide on how to get abs like Zac Efron or a bikini body like Jessie J (sorry!). This is, simply, about discovering the real (and surprising) reasons why healthy movement matters.
When we hear the word ‘exercise’ it usually conjures up images of perspiring cyclists, suave runners, spandex-clad dancers, and people who think adding a bit more difficulty to jogging on the spot for half an hour is a good idea. Whilst we fully support these wonderfully self-motivated individuals, we also look at them in awe and shudder at the thought of getting out of bed at 6 am in the dark to run a half marathon before work.
Born to move
But here’s the thing. Since our evolution, movement has been a part of our lives. Back in the day, most jobs meant we had to be active. Hunting and gathering, dancing around the fire, walking, swimming, climbing, fighting, running, jumping, crawling, lifting... even sex! These are all movements our bodies are designed for.
We are all, literally, born to move.
And movement affects everything, from circulation to strength to digestion to immunity to metabolism!
A modern problem
In our world today everything is accessible. As human beings, we have evolved from physically active ancestors who had to run to catch their food or to avoid being eaten by lions, tigers, and bears (or other predators). A few hundred years ago, people sat for 3 to 5 hours a day, the modern human now sits for an astonishing 13 to 15 hours a day. Being sedentary is a new problem in human history.
Inactivity is described by the Department of Health as a “silent killer”. Excessive sitting is associated with 35 diseases and conditions such as back pain, obesity, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and depression.
Because of our modern lifestyles, most of us have a disconnect between our mind and our body. Our bodies are just slightly squishy vehicles used to transport our heads to our desks, to our cars, to the supermarket, etc. and we don’t think about them unless they break down.
Little and often
The good news is that from our brains to our joints, moving regularly has the power to improve every part of our bodies and support our:
Cognition (our brain power)
Mental wellbeing and mood
Balance and coordination
We’re not talking about smashing out reps or high-impact, sweat-inducing exercise, either. Moving little and often can make a world of difference. Small movements can have a major impact on both our physical and mental health.
For most of us, the easiest way to move more is to make activity part of everyday life. Here are some of the Beingwell family members tips and tricks for getting more active:
Set a time for movement. Human beings like routine and we’re more likely to stick at being active if we do it at the same time each day.
Ditch the car and try walking or cycling to the local shops.
Try something new and exciting. No idea where to begin? Try the BBC’s ‘Which sport are you made for?’ tool to get some ideas.
Desk yoga! It is a real thing, practice 15 minutes just before lunch.
Have a walk around the block whilst listening to your favourite podcast.
We’ve all heard this before but are we doing it? Get off the bus, metro, tram, or tube one or two stops before our destination.
Park further away from the office, supermarket, etc.
Split activities up throughout the day – try small bouts of 10 to 20 minutes at a time.
Have fun with the kids. Play in the park, or garden, enjoy a tug-of-war, egg and spoon races, swimming, cycle, dancing. Story yoga is also great fun!
Be brave and try a ‘Couch to 5K running plan’.
Get mates involved. We’re much more likely to keep active if we’re with people we enjoy being with.
Take the stairs instead of the lift, or get out of the lift a few floors early.
Walking meetings – instead of sitting try walking and talking.
Dance! We love a good dance. Try a 5 Rhythms, Zumba, or dance class, or pop on some tunes and dance like no-one is watching around the living room.
All movement adds up and remember:
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn