How Opportunities for Movement Can Impact Health

What's more impactful to your health - intensity or consistency? 
Trick question. It's both.

Intense physical exercise, even just a few times a week for four minutes, can make a difference in your health.

Consistency is something different. Many of us have become professional sitters at work, commuting, and then at home. We may exercise in the morning or after work. Still, it doesn't counteract the hours of sitting we do all day, which effectively leads to glute amnesia.  

Butt or Gluteal Amnesia is common among people who sit all day. The gluteal muscles forget how to fire from lack of use. This leads to fewer back, hip, knee, and ankle pains. Prolonged sitting has been linked to:

  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Increased insulin production after just one day of sitting, which could lead to diabetes
  • Higher risk for colon, breast, and endometrial cancers
  • Weak abdominals, tight hip flexors, and weak glutes
  • Poor leg circulation, varicose veins, and deep vein thrombosis
  • Weak bones
  • Slower brain function
  • Neck Strain
  • Sore shoulders and back

In my latest book, Work Well. Play More! Productive, Clutter-Free, Healthy Living - One Step at a Time, I lead readers through twelve months of behavior change in levels of Novice, Pro, and Master. In Month Three, the habit is Movement Opportunities. 

 exercising-running

I love to exercise, but I know it's not everyone's favorite thing, and for some, it's tough to find the time to work out for an hour or more during a typical workday. That's precisely why I developed what I like to call "Movement Opportunities." These are quick and easy ways to make time to move your body for short bursts throughout your day. And a bonus, you don't even have to change your clothes to see a benefit!                                                                   

Novice - Movement Opportunities at Home

For me, a day without exercise is like a day without brushing my teeth or washing my face. It just doesn't feel right. However, not everyone likes to exercise. Even if you happen to love exercising, the 45 minutes you run in the morning or the hour in the gym at night might not be enough to counteract sitting all day. NEAT - Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is the calorie burn we get from doing everyday activities that we often don't consider exercise. I like to think of these as Movement Opportunities or bursts of movement throughout the day that can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Besides being a mega stress reliever, Movement Opportunities can give you energy.

 dog-walking-exercise

Regular and non-regular exercisers can look for Movement Opportunities to increase their energy, strength, improve their sleep, and decrease their stress, all without taking up too much time or breaking a sweat. They can be 30 seconds, two minutes, or ten minutes. Never underestimate what a quick two to three-minute routine can do for your stress levels and energy.

Will it get you a six-pack? No. But it will improve your mood and your health.

I like to find a trigger, something I do consistently every day, and create a Movement Opportunity before, during, or after that trigger. To see how I used a litterbox as a trigger, watch this video. Natural triggers are brushing your teeth, taking medication, brewing coffee, showering, letting the dog out, or feeding a pet. These are all things you would do every day and are consistent triggers.

 

My client Helen Moses came up with a big goal to exercise 60 minutes every day until her 50th birthday. She hadn't thought it through and was coming from a place of zero intentional daily exercises. I encouraged her to get a FitDesk and use it while she watched TV, webinars, and while processing email. Without her Bike Desk, she says she couldn't have met her goal. (Read more about her story here)

Pro - Movement Opportunities at Work

You've probably heard the phrase "sitting is the new smoking." The adverse health effects of sitting are extraordinary and shouldn't be taken lightly. Standing and Sit-Stand Desks are a fantastic option. I've used a standing desk for a decade. FitDesk's Standing Desk Bike is easy to raise up or down so that when you get tired, you can change positions.

I have some clients who are embarrassed to stand because no one else in their office does it. That's where your super-secret under-the-desk elliptical can come into play. No one has to know you are moving your legs under your desk. Will it help you look good in a bikini? Probably not, but you'll still be burning calories and getting in NEAT.

 under-desk-bike-fitdesk

FitDesk's Bike Desk or Standing Desk Bike is an excellent option for those who don't like to stand or get tired of standing. Commit to doing specific tasks using the bike, since sometimes the movement can be distracting. The idea is not to break a sweat but get activity in. Lightly pedal, so it isn't distracting. I have my Bike Desk on my screened-in porch in the summer and my office in the winter and use it to watch webinars or read. I rarely break a sweat, but it is definitely a movement I wouldn't be getting standing at my desk or sitting in a chair.

These movement opportunity habits aren't just good for your butt; they're good for your brain. They can help increase your productivity throughout the day. Commit to a movement opportunity to prevent glute amnesia and improve your health.

What's your commitment?

For the Month Three Master level habit, check out the book – Work Well. Play More! Productive, Clutter-Free, Healthy Living - One Step at a Time www.workwellplaymore.com/books

- Marcey Rader

Productivity coach and wellness expert Marcey Rader helps clients create boundaries, find purpose, and achieve success. See her latest book at http://bit.ly/readwwpm.