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Exercise and movement are different. Both are important for a healthy lifestyle but different. Learn the difference, why they are important, and how you can move more at home without it taking up extra time. Create new movement habits that gets you moving, while you do other things.
Why Should I Move More?
According to the NHS, exercise can reduce the risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%. They go on to say that adults should:
- Aim to be physically active every day. Any activity is better than none, and more is better still.
- Reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity.
There are also mental health benefits to movement. In 2016, Srini Pillay, MD wrote in his post How simply moving benefits your mental health on the Harvard Health blog wrote that:
- Regular aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety by making your brains “fight or flight” system less reactive. When anxious people are exposed to physiological changes they fear, such as a rapid heartbeat, through regular aerobic exercise, they can develop a tolerance for such symptoms.
- Regular exercise such as cycling or gym-based aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and balance exercises can also help reduce depressive symptoms.
Read More: 10 Good Mental Health Habits to Start Today
Movement and Exercise
There are two important words intertwined in the above which are “movement” and “exercise”. So what is the difference? Katy Bowman, biomechanics and author, explains in her book Move Your DNA that exercise is used to described a period of time over which we purposefully move with the desire to reap the benefits of moving.
Exercise can be broken down into:
- The type of exercise, like running or Cross Fit
- The duration, how long did you run or how long was the CrossFit class?
- The frequency, did you exercise one or three times per week?
- Intensity, how hard did you work when exercising?
If you can break down your movement into the above categories it is exercise.
Movement on the other hand is any motion made by the body. Like chewing, breathing or typing. In her book Katy further explains the importance of moving, rather than exercising, by comparing it to eating and the importance of getting all the “movement nutrients” in our movement diet. It’s not enough to do a 1h exercise class and then be still for 23 hours.
Neither is it enough to get a standing desk and swap sitting for standing still all day. To help us feel better, avoid injuries and overall become healthier we need to incorporate a lot more movement into our daily lives.
If you look at the NHS recommendations for adults, 2 out of the 4 recommendations are around movement, rather than dedicated exercise. We are advised to be physically active every day, and the more the better, as well as reduce time spent sitting and lying down.
This last part is key for me – working from home I’ve been known to take a break from my office chair and go lie down on the sofa!! So how do we that keep moving at home?
How do I Move More During the Day?
Start small. Decide on one or two new movements you want to incorporate into your life. Decide when to do it, what your trigger will be, how you will track it. You can check out this blog post on how to build habits.
Remember, we use our willpower to implement new habits, but they need to be easy enough that we can then sustain them long term and not give up after a few weeks or months because it’s too much.
One of my most treasured movement habits is walking every day. I had tried to implement this habit for years but it was only when I decided that there was no minimum amount of walking that counted that it really stuck.
Most walks, I will walk 40 minutes to an hour but some days (like yesterday) my hip is aching and the only thing I could manage without aggravating it was a walk around the house.
And that counts!
I put my shoes on after work (finishing my work day is my trigger), I walked for a few minutes, and I got a tick in my habit tracker.
Why not just skip the walk?
Because if you start having reasons for not walking, you will find another one, and another one, and another one. And do you know what? Ninety percent of the time you don’t want to go out but you put on your shoes and do it anyway – you end up walking more than around the house and you feel great for it!
Easy Ways to Move More at Home
Personally, I have implemented a number of movement habits and I want to share some of them for inspiration:
The Dead Hang
I find tree branches on my walks or use my pull up bar. Remember – moving in different ways is the key to getting all your movement nutrients. And yes, I’m a 40 year old professional woman and I have a pull up bar on my wall. Live with it.
Read More: 9 Surprising Benefits of the Dead Hang
Carry My Washing High with Straight Arms
It gets heavy when it’s whet.
Take Stairs Two Steps at the Time
Nice work for the glutes.
Sit on the Floor
If we eat in front of the telly (which has happened more often then I’d like to admit). I then get up from the floor without using my hands. Have you tried getting up from the floor lately? If not, I urge you to try.
Don’t Use the Downstairs Loo.
We have a (nicer one) on the second floor so by always going there I get some extra stair action (two steps at the time!).
I stretch after my walks. With my hip issues, daily stretching is important and as I walk every day, this is the perfect trigger to then stretch when I’m warmed up anyway.
Stand on One Leg
while brushing my teeth. Sometimes on a yoga block if I feel adventurous.
Stand Up and Walk Around
Gets me moving when I’m on the phone.
As you can see, other than the walking habit none of these movement habits actually takes any additional time out of my day, they just add additional movement to what I’m already doing. Complete win!
I don’t want you to try to do all of this at once, but pick one or two movement habits that you want to add to your day, decide on a trigger (maybe you have one of those smart watches that tells you to move every so often, you can set an alarm on your computer or just think when in the day would be the best time).
Just Get Moving!
Now do it. Use your willpower if necessary to get you through the first few times as you need to repeat it several times until you can reap the benefits of having a new habit incorporated into your life. Track your progress in a habit tracker app or use the Free Printable Habit Tracker included in the Habit Worksheet below!
How do I Move More – Every Single Day?
Are you doing what you set out to do? Are you getting those gold starts or ticks in your habit tracker on a daily basis? If not, why is that? Is it that what you set out to do is too much most days? Or is it that you just forget, and when you think about it it’s late and you decide to try again tomorrow?
I have put a reminder in my digital calendar to review my movement habits on a weekly basis. I take a few minutes (usually while out for a walk) every Friday to think through what went well and what didn’t go so well. For those habits that didn’t happen, is there anything I can change to set me up for success next time?
For me, the main things I tinker with to get a habit to stick are:
If I have used a calendar reminder at a certain time and that didn’t work, I may try to use another action as a trigger instead. Instead of having an alarm go off at 5pm telling me to go for a walk, I can decide to go for a walk as soon as I finish work, which may work better as I don’t always finish work at 5pm on the dot.
The Size of the Movement Habit
If I decided to walk 30 minutes every day I would succeed most days but not always. It wouldn’t work when I was feeling too unwell, too stressed or just plainly not in the mood. If my minimum is to walk around the house however, I can do that 99.9% of the time. And usually, as I’m out, I’ll walk longer.
Some habits are rewarding straight away, like you feel good after a walk. Other times the reward is not feeling bad, like the icky feeling if you haven’t brushed your teeth.
When I was struggling with implementing my walking habit one of my friends introduced me to Pokémon Go. Now, I’m sure some of you are quite outraged – is she going to suggest I spend my time playing games on my phone to make my life better?!?
Others may wonder what on earth I’m talking about and for you I can just briefly explain that Pokémon Go is a game you play on your phone while you are out walking, you walk to find Pokémon’s to catch and to get more balls with which to catch the Pokémon’s.
This game being as addictive as most games on your phone are, gave me an extra reward when I went for a walk. I was doing a good thing by playing a game on my phone. Win! I played actively for quite a while after which I got a bit bored with the game interrupting my walking and I was so into my habit, that I stopped playing.
Sustaining Your Habit of Movement Long-Term
Once you get a good habit to really stick and becomes a part of your normal behavior you can stop tracking it on a daily basis but I do recommend keeping a list of your implemented habits that you can get out every six months or so just to check that nothing is slipping.
We are what we repeatedly do.Will Durant, Philosopher
Even if I have been standing on one leg while I brush my teeth for years now, if I go through a rough period and feel like I don’t have the energy, the habit can still slip away, even though it usually goes on complete autopilot.
Do you get moving throughout the day? Stand up when talking on the phone? Take frequent breaks to get coffee?? Let me know what has worked for you and what hasn’t and if you know what you are going to try next!