Take the Challenge: Move Your Body More Every Day
Updated: May 5, 2021
When I was a kid, no one needed to tell me to exercise or not sit all day long. I took dance classes until I was twelve, played little league softball and basketball, and ran competitively in high school and college. Even when I wasn’t doing some sort of organized form of movement, I spent a lot of time running around outside (or at the very least walking between classes in my high school and college years.) All of this changed when I got my first “real” job after college. Having a desk job means that I sit for most of my day with no real need to get up for anything other than to walk to the bathroom or to go to a meeting (when I was working in the office.) Pair that with driving (seated) and watching TV (also seated), and my body that was so used to so much movement got real sedentary, real fast. Sound somewhat familiar?
I honestly didn’t notice at first how much my body craved movement and how important it was to my mental health. But as time has gone on, I have started to pay more attention to how I feel and movement, and there is a clear link between the two. When I make time to move by body every day, I feel more positive and energetic (both physically and mentally). On the other hand, my body now screams at me when I am less active -- my low back hurts, my hips feel tight and achy, my right plantar fascia (from an old running injury) gets sore. Do you notice this connection for yourself? If not, I encourage you to take note of how you feel when you have days that you move more vs days in which you are more sedentary.
Whether you are already aware of how beneficial movement is for you or are wanting to make that connection, I’ve put together a few lists for you to check out that should help you include more physical activity into your day. Plus, I share a challenge that I like to do when I feel like I have been sitting too much.
Top 7 Reasons to Move Your Body Every Day
If you aren’t fully convinced that you really need much movement, I’ve rounded up the top seven reasons, backed by research, why you should move your body every damn day. Positive effects that movement has on your mind and body include:
Easy Ways to Incorporate More Movement into Your Day
I want to make it very clear that I am not talking about getting more exercise. Workouts are great, but it’s becoming clear to researchers that an hour at the gym doesn’t make up for the 13 hours of sitting and 7-8 hours of sleeping that Americans are doing daily (on average). Therefore, I’m sharing my list of ways that I incorporate more movement into my life (with a few additions from my friends with kids). The whole point is to make adding more physical activity into your day as simple, straightforward, and manageable as possible.
Set an alarm for every 55 minutes to stand up and do 5 minutes of movement throughout your day
Walk for 10 minutes after eating dinner (even better, do it after breakfast and lunch too if you have time)
Do some gentle stretching while watching TV
Hold a plank for 30 seconds followed by 10 sit-ups/crunches, 10 push-ups, 10 side lunges on each side and 10 jumping jacks before getting in the shower -- get creative with what movements you incorporate. Remember, it’s not about breaking a sweat, but about moving your body in different ways every day.
Take your dog for a walk (if you have one)
Play tag or hide-and-seek with your kids
Stand during a work meeting (if it’s not distracting)
Do a 5 minute movement challenge between each TV show you watch (1 minute each of different “exercises” such as lunges, side planks, etc.) -- get creative with what movements you incorporate. Sometimes you might just want to do 5 minutes of standing, and that’s great too!
Turn on your favorite song and have a mini-dance party. Bonus points if your family joins you, and your dance party extends to include a favorite song for each person.
Set a timer to get up every 30-45 minutes to get a drink of water (two birds, one stone - drink more water and move more) -- even if you have a water bottle with you, force yourself to get up and refill the water bottle no matter how much is left in the bottle.
These are just some ideas to get you started. Get creative with how you get more movement in your day and what works for you. Don’t get hung up on it being a certain length of time or intensity. Remember, this isn’t about working out; it’s about moving your body throughout your day, every day.
Important Daily Movements To Do so You Feel Great In Your Body
I put together this list of movements based on my training with Physical Therapist and international yoga teacher, Lara Heimann. These are things I try to do daily so that I’m moving my body in all the ways it needs to stay healthy and nimble. This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but it is a good starter.
Shoulder rolls - Alternate rolling your shoulders back one at a time. Try to hold everything else still and contain the movement to just your shoulders.
Forearm plank - This move is a powerhouse for revving up your core and shoulder strength. Don’t cheat yourself by letting your hips sag or lift up.
Side lunges - We spend most of our day going forward when we also need to move side-to-side in order to prevent injury. You want to make sure that you keep both heels on the ground and sit back into your booty so that your bent knee is not going past your toes.
Squats - To get proper form, slide your hands down the front of your legs to the ground not letting your hands lift off your legs until they touch the ground. You should be sitting back into your booty and your weight should be centered over the mid-foot to heel.
One-legged balance - This can be as simple as standing on one foot and lifting the opposite knee up towards hip height. Try holding that for 30-60 seconds before switching.
Explosive movement - So important to do, especially as we age. This can be as simple as squat jumps, one-legged hops, or skater hops.
Bonus: Dolphin - Start in forearm plank and walk your feet in towards your arms. Keep your knees bent, maintain the connection to your core that you had in forearm plank, and press firmly into your forearms. Hold this for 30-60 seconds.
Here's a challenge that I like to do a few times a year to bring more awareness to needing to move more and sit less:
Add an extra 60 minutes of movement spread out throughout your day. Try doing this at least 5 days a week for a month. Test out different ways to get to that extra 60 minutes each week. At the end of the month, reflect on what worked, how you can maintain this extra movement in your day, and how you can build to every day having that extra 60 minutes.
For this challenge, you can only count movement blocks that are 15 minutes or less towards your total of 60. Why? Because this isn’t about exercising, this is about moving how our bodies were meant to - frequently throughout the day. Need another (perhaps better) reason why you should spread your movement across your waking hours? Sitting more than six hours a day greatly increases your risk of an early death.
Try this challenge out and let us know how it goes and how you feel after 30 days!