Movement Is Medicine

The video below was recently passed along to me and it is certainly worthy of a look.

The basic premise does not receive nearly as much attention as it deserves. Whenever health and fitness is discussed, the conversation typically focuses on those activities that are performed as part of a formal workout. Little attention is directed towards the remaining 23+ hours each day. Consequently, there are people in today’s world who exercise more frequently than those from previous generations, yet still perform less overall movement.

I make this point not to diminish the potential of brief workouts, but instead to remind you that there is more to movement than exercise. I know all about being busy with work, parenting, and life in general. I could be the poster child for the effectiveness of short workouts. Much of my training is performed via brief, mini-sessions. Like many busy adults, I don’t always have extended periods of time that I can dedicate to exercise. Thus, during those hectic times, I make the most of shorter blocks at various points throughout the day.

I do not limit my movement to exercise however. I am a big believer in getting up to move as often as possible. Whether I am walking my dog, wrestling with my kids, splitting wood, shoveling snow, raking leaves, or mowing the lawn, there are always opportunities to include movement within the week.

Movement is medicine

Sadly, regular movement seems to be shifting towards the exception, not the rule. As I stated in past entry, the average person spends 4.4 hours of leisure time in front of a computer, tablet, or phone screen. And unfortunately, the 4.4 hour estimate comes from data collected a few years ago. Call it a hunch, but I’m willing to bet that the time spent in front of a screen has already increased and will continue to do so.

As a parent, I am also seeing more and more kids with smart phones and tablets. Kids learn by watching their parents. If a parent is always browsing his or her phone whenever they have a moment of free time, how can we expect children to act any differently? Kids learn by what you do, not by what you say to do.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to get home from school so I could head outside to play. Nowadays, there are kids who rush home to download a new app. The world has certainly changed, and much of the change has not been for the better. Our population as a whole continues to move less, and that is a problem.

The human body has evolved to move. Let’s not allow technology to change that. Most people could benefit from more movement throughout the day. Even many exercise enthusiasts could benefit by following some of the suggestions presented in the video above. Movement is medicine and everyone needs a regular dose. And please note, I am not suggesting that you live in the woods without electricity. I am simply encouraging you to budget in more time to get up and move. Your body will thank you for it as the years pass.

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“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” – Plato

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15 comments:

  1. I realize that this isn’t viable for every one, but bicycling instead of driving when possible is a great way to add a little movement into your life.

    1. Absolutely true! I am fortunate to be a single car family (and I don’t get the car) which results in a minimum of 10km of riding a day, 7 with a 60lb trailer behind me.

      Is that a ton of exercise or riding? No, not at all. But it means regardless of the weather or what is going to happen that day I always have a daily minimum because there is only one way to get my son to daycare and one way to get myself to work.

      I always strive to get more than the minimum but it is a good safety net and makes you feel fantastic.

  2. Absolutely true Ross, happens all too often – my daughter is only 18 months old and of course she has play time in the house, but I am always taking her out for a walk or making sure she is moving around playing in our garden.. I would hate for her to follow the trend by sitting in front of a screen for hours and hours on end. Hopefully she will follow our example!

  3. When I worked at the gym I rode everyday rain or shine – 10miles a day. On top of this I worked out 6 days a week and took to walking down to the local stores, and to visit friends etc.

    The majority of people in the gym led sedentary lifestyles, work for most people entailed sitting in an office. After work they sat on their couch. The 3 visits to the gym were, on the whole, all the physical exercise they got. The intensity level for the most part was far from intense and they pailed in comparison to the gym warriors.

    Compare this to our Grandparent’s generation – on the whole they were tough as hell, and tenacious too. In my case they had no special diet, no magical exercise routines but they lived into the 80s and beyond.

    It’s time to forgoe some of our comforts and conveniences, get ourselves and our nearest and dearest moving and grooving, for a little suffering can be good for the soul.

    Another top post Ross – keep em coming!

  4. Great read simple stuff. Incidental exercise such as ; using stairs instead of elevator, walking instead of using a vehicle and standing instead of sitting are easy ways to get some extra strength and fitness while being an example for others. If by adjusting your attitudes toward getting more incidental exercise becomes too slow, then you need to look at managing your time so that your not always in a rush.

  5. After reading several of these recent posts, I “found” time each morning — it takes 15 minutes to fill my coffee pot — so instead of sitting, slackjawed and impatient, I get up and move! Some days touching my toes is about all I’m up for but I try pushups and lunges etc etc as much as I can. By the time the coffee’s ready I’m wide awake!

  6. This post resonates with me a lot. The only caveat I’d add is when it comes to spending with a loved one.. you know what women are like.. too many of them want to sit and watch all that reality TV bulls hit and cuddle all day. Can be a pain in the ass trying to sneak out for walks and so on.

  7. This is not just commonsense and a good tip. Scientific research has shown,
    that regular walking has the same positive effect on people with a diagnosed depression like antidepressants.

  8. Bit off topic talking about Minecraft, but in that game there isn’t a whole lot that can be automated by default (though the game has added some automation methods recently). You still have to harvest most plants yourself, or automating the harvest of these plants is simply too expensive from my point of view… you still need to tunnel around to find resources in the ground, and so on. Whereas there are mods that make automation of these tasks as simple as building a block and powering it. I think you can actually test which one people feel better with overall with these approaches, although those results won’t apply too much to real life sadly.

    Either way, I love the game enough to actually want to make exercise a part of the game… and I could best do that by getting an omnidirectional treadmill input device. Then walking around in game means that I walk in place in the real world, which at least is a step up from sitting in place playing a game!

  9. I have only recently discovered these blogs and have been greatly impressed and inspired by the content. Ross your obvious passion and knowledge coupled with the way you articulate this puts you way ahead of other sites I have looked at. This particular article has made me want to comment as I could not agree more with it. I go to the gym 3 times per week when I can but there are times when I can’t due to work, family, etc. Regardless of specific exercise I live an active lifestyle, with dog walking making up a large part of that and I bike or walk everywhere if there is no need for the use of the car. This has become even more important to me since a promotion at work has meant being tied to a desk a lot more.
    Most of my colleagues think I am a bit strange for this. I make a point when I can of going out for a walk during whatever lunch break I manage to grab. I often get snide comments from certain colleagues about how I have time to do this, (I don’t but I make time). The reason I mention this is in relation to Andre’s comment regarding depression. He is absolutely right and the irony from my point of view is I am a mental health professional working with people with depression as are my colleagues. I find it frustrating that they do not see the need to lead by example.

    1. Unfortunately, leading by example seems to be less and less common in many professions.

      Glad to hear that some people are continuing to fight the good fight however.

  10. I am always surprised how quickly my legs can get tired from squats in between matches of Splatoon. I don’t even wait that long in between matches.

    but it gets better. I intend to have a omnidirectional treadmill so that those adventure games I play can be done by actually walking. If I’m seriously going to put that many hours into a game, I should move around while I do it, right?

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