I’ve previously discussed the differences between physical activity and structured exercise and what that means for our ability to move and enjoy movement throughout our lives. If you haven’t read that yet, check it out here.
Now I want to dive deeper into physical activity, what it looks like, and how we can incorporate more of it into our days in order to move for life.
Why is physical activity important?
Well, quite a few reasons.
Structured exercise is important in its own right, but if we were to only set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour a day of structured exercise, and then did not move much from bed to desk to couch to bed, we are not serving our bodies well in terms of longevity.
As humans, we are meant to perform human movements. We are meant to bend, rotate, reach, step, squat, etc. All of our joints have different motions they can and should perform, and if we are neglecting certain areas on a regular basis, they won’t be as lubricated or mobile as we age.
Simply walking, we are rotating our thoracic spine, moving our shoulders/hips/knees/ankles/toes/etc. By doing household chores, we are hinging, squatting, pulling, pushing. By getting on the floor with our children, pets, or just on our own to stretch, we are extending our lumbar spine, practicing the function of getting up and down, etc. The list truly goes on.
Also as humans, we need to maintain a proper fluid balance in our body, mainly blood and lymph. By moving regularly throughout the day at a gentle pace, we are increasing our lymphatic return and blood flow, which supports our immunity and cardiovascular health for the long haul.
And when we start to think of it all like this, taking some movement breaks throughout the day really doesn’t seem that bad; you might even enjoy it!
What are some ways we can incorporate more physical activity into our days?
- Perform one household chore per day. An easier way to keep a clean home, and to make sure that each day we incorporate some different type of movement.
- Taking a walk with family or pets after dinner each night.
- Pull away from your desk a few times per day, lie on the floor and just stretch.
- Take your pets or yourself on new hikes and trails each week.
- Play some music and dance! A favorite of mine while cooking dinner.
- Walk around the block while you call your loved ones, or while you have virtual meetings.
- Bike, rollerblade, etc. on the weekends with friends
- Pot some plants, get into gardening, help out at a community garden.
- Do some gentle yoga before bed instead of watching tv.
- If your location allows, walk to the store and carry your groceries back home.
- Choose an outing with friends that involves some movement, like bowling, mini golf, etc.
A lot of these come down to putting a little bit of added inconvenience in our days, as well as putting in a little bit of added fun. They all help us increase our physical activity for longevity in our joints, tissues, and organs; and they also help us find a little bit more presence and mindfulness in our days.