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We all know we should move our bodies more. And we want to, it’s just not always as easy as it sounds. For those of us struggling with injuries, chronic pain, disability, obesity or anything else that makes moving difficult, to ‘just move more’ to get healthy can be a challenge. But it’s not impossible, and I will show you how by introducing 10 great ways to move the body even you can do!
Full disclosure, depending on your specific circumstances you may not be able to do all of the below, but the vast majority of us can do several and the most important thing is that you move, in any way you can.
And even if you can move a lot more than this, incorporating a few of the below into your daily routine will help you moving in new and different ways, increasing strength and mobility in areas of the body you may not always consider.
Benefits of Moving the Body
There are a lot of health benefits of moving more, especially if we are starting from living a very sedative life. These benefits includes…
- Helps keeping your weight at a healthy level
- Reducing your blood pressure
- Benefiting your heart health
- Enhanced mood
- Stronger muscles
- Stronger bones
- Better mental Health
- Better sleep
- More energy
… just to mention a few!
Start small and incorporate a couple of the below ideas in your day-to-day life. As you start getting used to moving you will start feeling the benefits in your body and that will enable you to move a bit more, and then a bit more still.
10 Great Ways to Move the Body
1. Dead Hang
A dead hang is as easy as hanging from something like a tree branch, monkey bar in the playground or pull-up bar in the gym, and then relaxing the body. It has a number of benefits including spinal decompression, grip strength, upper body strength and it helps improve your posture.
Find somewhere in your normal environment that you can hang form regularly. It can be in a tree branch in a park or by the pavement, in the kids playpark, or if you really want to commit, there are quite inexpensive pull-up bars you can put in a door opening in your house.
The important thing is to find a place where you can hang every time you pass, making it into a small habit that, with time, will significantly improve your upper body strength.
Not actually able to lift your feet from the ground? No problem. Start by relaxing your body as much as you can, still keeping your feet on the ground until you are ready to lift your feet. Still too much, check out number 2 on the list!
Read More: 9 Surprising Benefits of the Dead Hang
Read More: 7 Amazing Benefits of the Active Hang
2. Move the Body by Leaning
Just like the dead hang, leaning away from things is a great way to increase your upper body strength. It enables you to put some weight on your hands, arms and shoulders but you can start really slow and only increase how much weight you put on it when it feels good to do so.
Another benefit compared to the dead hang – as you can lean in different directions, gripping things on different hights and having your arms in different angels you can work a multitude of muscles in this easy move alone.
Again, look around your immediate surrounding and you will soon find something you can hold onto as you lean. Is there a pole, banister or door handle you can grab hold of and lean away from?
Top tip: The closer your feet are to whatever you’re holding onto, the heavier you will become.
3. Walking ‘Barefoot’ Helps the Body Move Better
In all “normal” shoes there is a bit of a heal. Even trainer or sneakers and other ‘flat’ shoes have padding making the heal come up from the ground. This, together with the limited toe space in shoes, can over time cause significant problems in all parts of the body.
One easy way of moving better without having to move more is to transition to barefoot shoes, making sure that when you do move, you do so in a way that builds the body up. ( I use these)
4. Carrying with Straight Arms
Do you regularly carry things like shopping, washing or tools? Do you want to take this opportunity to increase your upper body strength? Try carrying it with straight arms!
By strengthening your arms, the force on your muscles will be much larger and this way you are getting stronger every time you carry something, and you need no equipment and no extra time what so ever.
5. Carrying Extra Weight
Do you want to take it one step further? Add some additional weight to your everyday activities. This doesn’t only apply to things you can carry with straight arms, but to all your movements. By adding extra weight, you will increase the effort it takes to do something, upping the level of exercise and increasing your strength.
Not sure where to start? Consider these examples:
- Carry a backpack when you walk
- Get wrist or ancle weight to wear for short periods of time during the day
- Carry your baby in a sling
- Put a bottle of water in something you are already carrying regularly (like your laundry basket)
- Keep your house tidy by never leaving a room without carrying something with you that doesn’t belong there!
6. Standing on One Leg
If you can’t keep your balance and need to hold onto something, do so, but to regularly stand on one leg has many quite surprising benefits – especially if you do so with your eyes closed. For example, it helps your brain form new connections and strengthening coordination improving balance as well as improving core strength and body alignment.
Why not try standing on one leg while you brush your teeth, wait for the bus or while on the phone?
7. Sitting on the Floor… and Stand Up Again
Sitting on the floor is a great core workout. It also helps reduce hip tension, increase flexibility and mobility and helps activating a number of muscles in your body. And not only that, when you get back up, you get a great work out for your legs!
If you spend a lot of time sitting, whether it is in front of the telly, on your computer or reading a book, try doing so on the floor. In the beginning you probably will not be comfortable for long, but as you get used to it you will start building the muscles and flexibility you need, and you will start feeling good sitting on the floor. And let’s face it, how many other ways can you exercise while watching telly and not needing to move a muscle?!?
Are you ready to take sitting on the floor to the next level? Practise getting up again without using your hands to get a great leg strength and balance practise.
8. Siting with a Straight Back
Sitting with a straight back is a great way to engage your core, independent on if you are sitting on the floor or on a chair. Wherever you are sitting down when reading this (if you are) try sitting up straight, not leaning on the back rest. Engage your core slightly to sit up straight. How long until you get tired?
Make it a habit to sit with a straight back and only lean back when you need a rest. You will quickly increase your core strength without spending any time doing crunches.
If you are trying this on a bus or train you get bonus points, as trying to sit straight on something that’s moving engages even more of the small muscles around your back, abs and hips.
9. Dancing – a Great Way to Move the Body
You probably know that dancing is fun, but if you are not moving much it’s probably not a part of your daily routine. But it should be! Dancing has great benefits such as:
- Improved cardio health
- Improved balance and strength
- Boosting cognitive performance
- Helps boost your mood
Once a day, turn up the radio or put on a great song and dance it out. Dance like no one can see you (and you can do it in private so no one has to) and you will start feeling the benefits quickly.
Do you feel dancing is too much for your body? Remember that dancing can be done sitting as well as standing – or even lying down if necessary. Feel the song and move your body in a way that feels good. That’s all there is to it!
10. Practise Power Poses to Move the Body Better
In 2012 Amy Cuddy did a TED talk on the benefits of power posing and it has gone on to become one of the most watched TED talks ever. If you didn’t get on the power posing bandwagon at the time, the message was simple. By using a powerful stance, we can make ourself actually feel more powerful (and the other way around).
If this works or not was highly debated at the time but Amy has since published an academic paper showing that taking a power position (such as the superman pose) for 2 minutes does indeed make you feel powerful.
What does this have to do with movement? First, a power pose requires great posture which engages multiple muscle groups. Second, as it actually makes you feel more powerful you will be in a much better position to continue movement after a power pose. Worth a try, right?
Pick 3 Ways to Move the Body
Reading about moving your body is good, but unless you actually start to move the body you will not see any benefits at all. Sorry.
While it can be difficult to begin, it’s also important not to try too much to quickly as the risk is that you soon give up, injure yourself or just forget. Instead, pick up to 3 ways to move from the list and really consider how you can implement them into your day:
Can you have a dance party to the radio when you get out of bed?
Stand on one leg when brushing your teeth?
Practise a power pose before leaving for work?
Decide what do do, when you will do it, and if needed set yourself a reminder. It can be a post-it note on the bathroom mirror or an alarm on your phone – anything that makes you remember your commitment.
Then, when you feel good about your new movement habits you can get back to this post and see what other types of movements you want to implement or consider how you can take your new movement habits to the next level.