Why Daily Movement Practice?
Everyone knows that abs are made in the kitchen and that if you focus on eating well 80% of the time, you’re right on track.
Did you know that focusing on your movement is just as important?
I’m not talking about spending an hour in the gym every day, stressing your body out with cardio and your latest WOD (workout of the day). I’m talking about small, incremental adjustments to your day that can have big results over the course of a month, a year, or preferably, a lifetime.
What sort of changes?
Nothing too big.
After all, we aren’t talking about a “21 day fat reset” or some other baloney that creates a false mindset. You aren’t going to get lifelong results doing 21 day fixes. After all, the saying isn’t “you eat an elephant 21 bites at a time” is it? We are talking new habits that you can add into your day to create more wealth of movement in your life. Ready?
Here we go…
Movement Practice #1
Wake up in the morning and give yourself a nice stretch.
You know how when you first wake up and the first thing your body wants to do is a “hands above your head, up on tippy toes, arch your back” type of stretch? There’s a reason for it! Your body instinctively knows it is time to get up and greet the day and stretching is a great way to activate your nervous system.
Estimated commitment: 2-5 minutes.
Get started: try this great morning stretch from Doctor of Physical Therapy Jen Esquer.
Ready for a little more? Try the “Power of 5” morning stretch from KristinRooke.com.
Movement Practice #2
You know how you’re always a tad apprehensive when you go on vacation, but somehow you’ve eaten all this great food and you still managed to not pack on more weight? Chances are, you’ve been out walking, seeing the sites, getting those steps in at a greater pace than you normally doing when you’re working all day.
Walk! 30-60 minutes of walking a day can help keep you mobile, trim inches off your waist and keep your heart healthy when you keep up the pace – just intense enough to carry on a conversation.
I love a morning walk when the air is crisp and cool, trying to dodge sprinklers or just people watching as you step through your neighborhood.
I know 60 minutes sounds like a lot, but honestly, your mood will improve, you’ll feel accomplished when you get home and your body will thank you! It’s also a fantastic time to mull over the coming day, problems that need solved, or just to clear your head.
Estimated commitment: 30-60 minutes.
Movement Practice #3
Add breaks into your day.
The Pomodoro Technique advocates for greater productivity, if you remain focused for a set amount of time, knowing that you have a short break coming up.
To start, you can break your work into small, achievable chunks and tackle them one at a time. Set a timer and get to work.
When your timer is up, get up from the computer or whatever you were doing, take a couple lunges, a few squats, go walk to the mailbox and back.
Healthy Moving has a great 4 minute hip and back exercise that will give you a great stretch fast.
This is a great time to switch from sitting to standing (or vice versa) if you have a standing desk!
I like to work for 50 minutes and break for 10.
Estimated commitment: 80 minutes (or less if you want shorter breaks).
Movement Practice #4
Play every day.
Remember when we were kids and we couldn’t wait to get outside and do something? Playing on the playground, jumping on the trampoline, riding our bikes, being stuck inside was the worst thing in the world to us!
One of the best things you can do for your body now is tap into your sense of play! Get moving! Go join an ultimate frisbee league, go jump on that trampoline, get some tennis lessons, or join Krav Maga.
Do SOMETHING that gets you outside and moving and activates the playful nature that humans, adults and children alike, thrive on. As this article from the Washington Post states:
“Play is a basic human need as essential to our well-being as sleep, so when we’re low on play, our minds and bodies notice,” Brown says. Over time, he says, play deprivation can reveal itself in certain patterns of behavior: We might get cranky, rigid, feel stuck in a rut or feel victimized by life. To benefit most from the rejuvenating benefits of play, he says, we need to incorporate it into our everyday lives, “not just wait for that two-week vacation every year.”
Make a list of activities you’ve always wanted to do. For example, my list includes Krav Maga, tennis, surfing, stand up paddle boarding.
Now, go sign up for something and get to playing!
Estimated commitment: Varies
Movement Practice #5
Start a bedtime movement routine.
Similar to the morning, a great way to prepare yourself for bed is a relaxing stretching routine that will calm the nervous system, clear your mind and allow you to relax before your head hits the pillow.
Estimated commitement: 2-5 minutes. Repeat as needed if you are having trouble shutting your worries out.
Jen Esquer has another great winner in her Bedtime Mobility stretches.
Bonus! Movement Practice #6
Two days a week, go sprint fast for 10-20 minutes or lift something heavy for the same amount of time.
Feel Great Every Day!
Putting all 6 of these practices together will bring you a well rounded movement practice that will get your body in shape and keep your spirits high.
What tips would you add to increase movement each day?
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