Thursday evening after my Pilates class, I told a student I was glad to see her back in class. She had just returned from a road trip and said she was exhausted from many hours of driving but she needed to move. I understand because I would rather be sore from a moving than from doing nothing. Think about how your body feels when you have been on a road trip or a long flight and spent many hours sitting. Stiff? Crampy? Tired? Now think about how that affects your mood and behavior. Are you grumpy? Do you make healthy food choices? Are you inclined to fall into bed, maybe watch television?
Most people can relate to that experience but for many I have described their daily lives.
In spite of the fact that we know the human body is designed for movement, many people are sedentary. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of physical activity, not exercise, just movement. An article from US News & World Report explains the dangers of sitting and the benefits of movement nicely. _ I think the problem is that the small amounts of movement added throughout the day seem insignificant to most. We may not see a big drop in weight, but improvements in blood sugar and triglycerides can have a dramatic effect on health. Very few ask me about improving their health. More often
I am asked how to improve the way they look. We can't see that moving more can have an immediate effect on metabolic processes because it is on the inside, but so many are more concerned with what is on the outside.
I think cars are a great analogy for health, and since this post started with a road trip, it makes sense. Think of all the working parts in the engine of a car; cylinders, pistons, spark plugs, valves, etc. All of those parts work together to make the car run, but are generally not visible. Most people don't look at or even think about all of those parts until something goes wrong. So it is with the body, we don't pay attention to all of the working parts until they stop working, but the absence of illness is not health. As with cars, regular maintenance is required to keep things running smoothly or at least minimize wear and tear.
Movement, along with nutritious food, quality sleep and stress management keeps the body humming. If you want to do body work that's great! But you can't drive a car without an engine, no matter how good it looks. Start with basic maintenance. It may not seem like much, but it will get you going in the right direction. Use your smart phone or get a pedometer and track how many steps you take. Once you have a daily average, begin to increase it. Start small, try 100 extra steps per day. Build from there, add another 100 or start walking a few times a week. Again, start small and schedule it in. If you work at a desk try an app to remind you to get out of your chair, I like Stand Up!_ Try problem solving your way into movement. Remember, a little maintenance can help you go the distance.
WOW: A round up from the University of Missouri of activity and break apps to help you move more.