Throughout history, people have naturally moved. It’s only been in the last hundred years or so that has changed. With the advent of the combustible engine and later the movement of technology into our everyday lives, that has changed and we have become more and more sedentary.
The healthiest happiest cultures today have movement built in to their everyday lives. They garden, they walk their dogs, and they have other ways that nudge them into moving every 20 minutes or so. In the United States, the happiest populations live in cities that are safe, walkable, bikeable, have plenty of green space and have access to fresh produce.
Most of us know that exercise is one facet of a well-rounded program for better health. Many of us know that a lifestyle that incorporates intentional movement leads to greater happiness. So we sign up for that gym membership in January, and then by May we find we haven’t been in months. Or we buy a treadmill or exercise bike and now we’re using it as a coat rack. There’s a reason for that. As humans we like novelty, we get bored easily. We tend overstress the same muscles leading to injury. Then we stop.
The key here is to find a few things you love to do, and then do them, everyday. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re thing is hanging out at the gym, and it’s something you can sustain over your lifetime, more power to you. But statistics show, that’s not the case for most people.
Mix it up, have fun, engage in a variety of activities that work all parts of your body. These should be intentional activities. What I mean is, a slow stroll is not going to cut it. You should be moving enough to get your heart rate up. And be sure to incorporate weight-bearing activities into the mix at least twice a week. This may mean weight lifting, or it could mean a yoga class with the right instructor. Basically, weight bearing is anything that works against gravity.
Need some other ideas? Here are some thoughts:
- gardening/yard work
- playing with your kids or grandkids
- jumping rope
- Hula Hooping
Now all that said, this is an accountability post of sorts, as I am having my own crisis when it comes to moving. I just haven’t much in the last six months or so. I make excuses – I’m too busy, it’s too cold, it’s too hot, the cat will follow me (yes, that’s my excuse … coyotes, you know). I do look forward to walking with a friend every Saturday, thank goodness, and I so miss it when something else prevents us from going. But walking with her is more enjoyable as we spend time together and solve all the world’s problems (in our little worlds at least). Plus, I’m accountable to her (in my mind) if I don’t. Well, it’s time to be accountable to myself. I know the risks of a sedentary lifestyle and I’m a great one for telling others. So, time to pony up!
One final note before I wrap this up. Exercise is what’s called a keystone habit, meaning it leads to other healthy habits like healthy eating and drinking more water. Exercise also keeps the blues away. So if you find yourself binging on Fritos or saying yes to that third glass of wine a little too often (disclaimer: the prior statement in no way reflects the habits of the author), get out and move instead.
Let’s step outside that comfort zone together. The results will be more energy, a greater sense of well-being, greater happiness and lower weight.