I have never been an athlete and used to rather skillfully avoid sweat at all costs (gym teachers loved the O’Reilly girls). I am still too sedentary, largely due to hibernating much of the winter and have some limitations on my movement due to a hip-replacement.
But regular, JOYFUL movement is absolutely essential for maintaining my emotional and physical wellbeing.
In addition to using a standing desk and incorporating ‘joyful movement’ into my life five times/wk for at least 30 minutes (I sometimes miss the mark), I have taken to crawling around my house on all fours, practicing my deep squats at odd moments, and doing a whole lot more floor sitting.
I blame it on Katy Bowman, Biomechanist, of Nutritious Movement. “Nutritious Movement is a whole-body movement program that utilizes Movement Micronutrients, Movement Macronutrients, and habitat (lifestyle) changes to nourish all trillion of your body’s parts.” That sounds confusing – just head to her site after reading here and check it out for yourself.
It is so important to build purposeful movement into our days. It is not enough to live a sedentary life and then hit the gym once or three times a week all hard core. Likewise, a standing desk does not suffice – it still leaves us too stationary.
Far better to intersperse varied forms of movement throughout the day, which is what I have been attempting over the past couple years with increasing intentionality. I am no model mover & shaker but depending on the season, my days look a little like this:
- I do some bends, twists and stretches while drinking water and making my morning coffee, maybe a few deeper squats while holding onto the edge of the cupboard for support;
- I use a standing desk for most of my work time in the day and in the evening sit in different positions on the floor; when reading I will frequently sit in a ‘sole to sole’ position (like cross-legged but with the soles of my feet touching) to open up my hips – feels great. I sometimes sit on a chair but try to limit this and in the warmer season I hope to do some of my client meetings while walking;
- When standing I use a foot roller/massager to create different textures for my feet, shift my weight around a lot, and sometimes use a big book to stretch my calves or work on balance as I’m working; I go barefoot at home and especially aim for some barefoot grounding time outdoors in nice weather;
- If I’m tired of standing I might kneel for a while at my desk and I’m practicing kneeling, legs folded underneath me, with a thin cushion for extra support, as I work at the coffee table (my left leg was lengthened in my hip surgery and the knee muscles never quite recovered so I do this carefully);
- At least every hour I take little breaks to stretch and squat, lunge or shake things out, roll my neck, or walk around while accomplishing tasks to expand my range of motion;
- I do 30 mins of ‘exercise’ 5 times a week. This is usually walking, playing with speed and incline to create a bit of a burst training effect (but really I never get my heart rate up very high), with some simple body weight exercises (squats, pushups) and stretching thrown in. I require a lot of stretching for my hips in particular. I use my arms part of the time with ‘pull down’ movements while on the treadmill, a kettle bell, or using walking poles some of the time when outdoors. I cannot pivot, jump or run. I have, as mentioned, also taken to doing some crawling around – helps loosen up my hips and lower back and I can feel it engaging my core. I just have to keep eyes wide open for little beads and lego pieces lying in wait for unsuspecting victims;
- In warmer seasons (basically when there is no ice outside) I like to go for at least one longer walk per week with my husband or a friend and try to vary up the terrain somewhat (ex. walking on concrete vs. a path in the woods). I LOVE walking and exploring new cities this way and can happily walk for hours when travelling to new places with the occasional stop for a coffee or glass of wine. Ok, and maybe some water;
- I’m not a great ‘play-er’ but when I take my daughter to the park I will use some of the adult outdoor exercise equipment before plunking down on the grass to read. I have tried hoola hooping. It wasn’t pretty;
- Occasionally I try a new class: yoga or kettle bell, for instance, but it has to be modified due to my hip-replacement and being an introvert I tend to avoid classes;
- I embrace opportunities for ‘functional fitness’: I take the stairs frequently rather than avoiding them, I get on my hands and knees or squat when looking into cupboards rather than bending at the waist at awkward angles, I carry bags of groceries or my shopping basket around sometimes instead of always using a rolling cart, putter around in the yard, clean up vomit from carpets (thankfully not every week)… you know, typical life stuff. I draw the line at snow shoveling, mind you. That’s just craziness.
None of these ideas are terribly impressive and you may already move your body way more than this! I am also not skinny (nor do I aim to be) so some of you may discredit my contribution to this conversation.
But I believe that joyful and nutritious movement is for all of us – it is an act of self-care…not just a means to a certain body size.
I share this as encouragement for those of who may feel a little stuck or bored in this department – or for those of you, who like me, were never really athletic types, live with chronic pain, or have mobility issues of some sort.
Focus on what you CAN do (progress vs. perfection) – we can all do something. My dad, when wheelchair bound near the end of his days still used a ‘mini pedal bike’ until he could no more because he clearly understood the concept of ‘use it or lose it’ and because exercise had always been critical to his stress-management.
Movement can be joyful and feel amazing. Explore what feels great for you and move your body. Consider how you might increase the nutritious movement in your days and check out this Day in a Life post from the Bowman’s residence for further inspiration.
Now go move that beautiful body of yours,
*public domain image from magdeleine.co