I used to have a gym teacher who loved to yell, “Our bodies are made to move!” I didn’t much appreciate his enthusiasm at the time, coming as it did in the middle of running laps. But there is a great deal of truth to his words.
With the kids heading back to school and the grownups back at work after (hopefully) some vacation time this summer, most of us are going to be spending a lot of time sitting down. We sit in our cars or the metro in the morning, at our desks all day, and on the couch when we get home at night. It’s a big part of how many of us work and play.
All that sitting is actually really bad for our health. My gym teacher was right: our bodies really do need to move in order to be okay. One of the simplest and most important ways we can support our own wellness is to honor that, and make sure we get enough movement every day.
I suggest that my patients make a habit of staying mindful about their daily movement. Just start to notice how often you move during the day, and how much time you spend seated. Oftentimes, we’re not used to thinking about it, but when we start to pay attention, we decide we want to change.
Some of us are good at tackling a problem head on — we might commit to walking 10,000 steps every day, or running five miles after work. We choose a discreet goal and go after it. For others of us, it might work better to break it down into lots of little goals. We might make a point of taking a five minute walk every hour, even if it’s just stepping away from our desk to go to the bathroom or check in with a colleague. The little stuff can add up too — if we make a point to do lots of it.
There are so many ways to inject more motion into your day. The point is to figure out some that work for you, and make them a part of your regular way of being.
Sometimes I suggest to patients to pretend they have a dog — even if they don’t. Dog owners know that at least three or four times a day, you need to take your dog out for a walk around the block. You can take yourself for a walk too! It’s just as essential to your well-being. It can also be really fun :)
Motion doesn’t have to be walking or running either, of course. Anything that isn’t sitting energizes and revitalizes your body. Yoga, dance, sports, even just standing instead of sitting (something you can potentially do at your desk) are all great ways to get moving.
Whatever forms of movement you practice, they are a key to wellness.