Sitting has been shown to be an independent risk for death, regardless of how much you go to the gym and do your formal exercise. Researchers are showing that even hitting the gym for an hour a day, but spending the rest of your day sitting leads to a drastic increase of all cause mortality. (Please note that exercise daily does decrease risk of death greater than not moving, but the common denominator is that prolonged periods of sitting are leading to overall increased risk of death).
It’s evident that we need to find ways to move more, especially if we have a job that requires us to stay quite sedentary.
My plan with this blog today is to inspire you to think critically about the time you spend sitting, and find ways to decrease sitting time and increase fun/moving time!
It’s time to get CREATIVE with your moving!! Here are five ways I have used to decrease sitting time on an average day.
- The Walk and Talk- With cordless phones/cell phones nowadays there is no reason why you can’t take a personal or business call while going for a walk outdoors or on your treadmill. Strap your shoes on before you make the call and get out and get the blood pumping. Even simpler, stand at your desk, or do a few stretches if you can’t get outside for a walk.
- Don’t sit on your couch while watching TV or on your laptop, sit on the floor! What I like to do if I have to spend time on my computer, or want to veg. out and watch a show, is I sit on a yoga mat on the floor, or on a big cushion. While sitting this way I find I move my body about every 10 seconds to readjust and stay comfortable. This is movement! It seems so simple, and yet just being in different positions that cause us to want to shift and move more is MUCH better than sinking into your comfy couch and not moving for hours.
- DANCE! Come on, don’t take yourself so seriously. One of my favourite ways to let loose, feel great, change my mood, and put a smile on my face is to throw on one of my favourite songs and just move/dance around the room.
- Where else can you sneak movement in? Can you walk to the store? Take the stairs and not the elevator? Carry your groceries home? Get a dog? Walk on your lunch break? Get a hobby that requires movement.
- Sign up for new things that challenge your body in new ways and new positions. I get into this topic more below, but for now consider how well rounded and healthy your body would be if you participated in a variety of movements: walking, weight lifting, tennis, yoga, dance, swimming, gymnastics. Find new ways to have fun and challenge all aspects of your body. You can find these activities for people of any age or ability, so don’t let that stand in your way!
Most importantly remember that movement doesn’t have to be anything structured, sweaty, or organized. Simply finding small ways to move more has a drastic impact on your overall well-being.
On top of moving more it’s now time to start thinking about the geometry of your movement. This idea was presented to me by Katy Bowman, a pioneer and free thinker in the world of human biomechanics.
Katy encourages us to think of our movement in terms of it’s value, efficiency, and ‘nutrient level’. She talks about this concept in her book “Move Your DNA”. To summarize this idea let’s compare two forms of activity; running and dancing.
Running is done generally in one plane of motion (moving forward), in a repetitive fashion, using only some of our body parts and systems. If you imagined all the little cells and tissues looking to get exercised, have an increase in blood flow and get nourishing movement, you would realize that running is not the most nutritious movement to challenge our whole body geometry. Basically when we run there are many areas of the body that are getting stressed cellularly (in a good way), but many that are not! In one of her examples, it was either in her book or podcast she explains how running would is technically cardioprotective- a.k.a- it’s cardiovascular movement that is supposed to be good for your heart, but if we are always running for our cardio, we are only ever training the fraction of muscles and cells required to perform this movement- rather than training all our muscles and cells to work together to challenge and strengthen our cardiovascular system.
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have dance. Dance is movement done in all planes of motions, using plenty of flexibility, strength, variation in speed, power, agility, coordination. You could imagine that after 5 minutes of dancing that the different movements you performed would wake up, increase blood flow, and tax a much greater component of your body then running. Dancing stresses (in a good way) more of our geometry to promote increased health benefits. We need a variety of different movements daily!
Katy encourages us to get as much ‘nutritious movement’ as we can for our body. This means finding ways to push ourselves, pull ourselves, hang from monkey bars, walk, run, move, hike, pick things up, squat down, and use our body in all the ranges it was meant to. More variety in our movement- beyond going to the gym and doing the same routines- is the best method of challenging our body systems to grow stronger and healthier.
Here is a fantastic video by Katy filled with drawings to clearly explain this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeN8efGa6C0
Here are some excellent examples of moving the body in variety of methods to strengthen all aspects of our human anatomy:
- Here’s a great video by a leading movement expert called Ido Portal. In this video you will see him explain his theory on the importance of movement, and you can watch him bring a group of people through a series of movements! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb7GjomO7Ns
- Check out how Naudi Aguilar from Functional Patterns moves gracefully and powerfully in his video found on the main page of his website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MIweO9f23A
- Here is a friend of my from the rock climbing scene here in Vancouver demonstrating some mobility exercise/movement examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ut12ukrW94
It is so important to begin moving well now, and maintain your functionality as you age in order to live a long and healthy life. Let me now how your journey is going! Get Moving more often. in more ways, to stress more of your geometry!!