Tag Archives: move your body

Making Exercise Flow Naturally Throughout Your Day

September 26, 2012

If we want to continue focusing on beauty through a complete and holistic approach, then we mustn’t avoid the topic of exercise and physical fitness. It’s such an annoying word, isn’t it? Exercise. Pain. Inconvenience. As in, do I really have to take time away from my busy schedule, get up from this couch, move, flail my arms kind of awkwardly, get all out of breath, make myself sweaty, then hop in the shower, then do this again every day for the rest of my life? When looked at in this way, of course exercise will make anyone dizzy with resistance. We do it anyway, at least most of us, because we know it’s good for us.

But how many people actually exercise because they feel the benefits from the movement?

I’m talking about feeling good because you’ve just oxygenated your body and flooded your brain with endorphins. Or feeling blah because you’ve been sitting, barely moving for weeks and your back hurts and now the last thing you want to do to is get up and move, so you just keep sitting there and feeling blah.

When you take the time to listen to your body, it’s hard to ignore just how essential movement is to your life.

Listening to your body is important. So is getting your priorities straight. People often pick exercise goals such as losing weight, looking good, or garnering others’ admiration as their priority. They miss the point of what exercise is about. Unless you’re a professional athlete or you take yourself seriously as one, the main goal of exercise should be to feel great. And to maintain a healthy level of energy.

Now you know 2 things that will help to make exercise become a more natural part of your daily life:

1) Listening to your body and giving it what it needs. If you’re feeling tired all the time, it may mean that you’re not moving enough, you’re not exercising properly, or you’re exercising too much. If you’re feeling energetic, good! Keep up what you’re doing. Don’t forget, your body also needs essential nutrients and good quality sleep to complement your daily physical exertions.

 2) Exercising for the right reasons. Exercise for circulation, oxygenation, invigoration, and flexibility in your joints. And while you’re at it, why not also make it fun? Don’t worry, all those other things (losing weight, looking hot, etc.) will naturally come about as a result.

As someone who lives by the “Small and Frequent” maxim, I am constantly finding ways to integrate little movements throughout my day. I like Small movements because I lose interest when things go on for too long. I like Frequent movements because when you’re used to moving all the time it’s easy to stay moving (call this the momentum of movement). The opposite is also true. When you’re used to sitting and being sedentary it’s really hard to get yourself going (call this the inertia of stillness).  Small and frequent movements are a simple way to maintain the momentum of movement.

So what do I do?

I usually start my day with 15-20 minutes of yoga. If I’m pressed for time, I find that a few rounds of Sun Salutations will do (yogajournal.com has several videos for free under 20 minutes, try this vigorous version of the Sun Salutation).

When I’m working, which involves a computer and sitting down for hours, I use the pomodoro technique. This technique typically means you work for 25 minutes, break for 5 minutes. But you can adjust the time blocs to whatever feels best. There are several computer timer apps that can help you with this (I use the Tea Timer Widget).

  • Jumping jacks are always a good idea. Try twisting, hopping, stretching and any other little movement you can think of.
  • Even if you just stand up and two-step in place to the music in your head, it’s already a good start. And a sure way to get noticed as that funky dude in the office.
  • You can do a lot of movement within those 5 minutes. And when you do them throughout the day, it really adds up. So for example, if you work 8 hours a day and you take 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes that’s 80 minutes of small and frequent movements that day. Pretty good, huh?

After work, I will usually find an excuse to go for a walk. I’ll go on a photo hunt, or I’ll take a stroll along the Seine river.

  • If I’m not feeling up for a walk, I will either do another longer yoga session (myyogaonline.com is another site filled with a great variety of yoga videos of different lengths, levels, teachers and styles. They also have a lot of other health resources.)
  • Or, recently I’ve been practicing the small movements from the Quest for a Ballet Body series (these little movements are perfect during your 5 minute breaks).
  • Or, for when I’m feeling hard core, I’ll do a 12 minute intense interval training through one of the videos from bodyrock.tv. I have a 7 pound kettle bell (haha, so hard core right?) that I use instead of a sand bag.

During the weekends, I’ll pick one day to go for a jog. I usually never run for longer than 40 minutes, but I always throw in a few intense sprints during my jog. I get way more out of these short sprints than running for an hour at the same moderate speed.

AND, I am ALWAYS walking to or from somewhere.

I find that these small and frequent movements are the key to maintaining a healthy level of energy. My blood circulation is good, my muscles are toned and I feel light and limber. The little movements really do add up, you just have to be consistent. At the same time, it’s important to adopt a relaxed attitude towards fitness and do things only because you actually like doing them. When movement becomes an easy and natural part of your life, you will have a steady supply of energy, you will feel great and it will really show!

The fitness resources I mentioned above are free! Otherwise, I wouldn’t be helping myself to them. The only exception is myyogaonline.com, but I’ve signed up with them because they are holding a really awesome deal right now ($18 for three months of access to really great yoga videos and resources).

What about you? What do you do to stay moving and flowing throughout the day? 

The “Frequent and Small” Movement

August 1, 2012

Physical movement is important for our health. There are hundreds of reasons for why we need to constantly move our bodies. The simplest reasons of course are to get our blood flowing, to keep our muscles strong and to feel great!

But when did physical movement become such a dreaded THING? My hunch is that as our society became more sedentary, movement became less natural. Think about the hours we clock in just sitting, watching tv, working by our desks and staring at our computers. This sedentary way of living has become the norm. Sitting around is now what we do best. So when it’s time to move, we have to pencil in “exercise” into our hectic schedules. And a string of excuses usually result in our skipping out on exercise.

But movement is not supposed to be a chore for which we have to set time apart. It’s supposed to be a natural part of our lives. Think about our ancestors. They walked miles and miles and were constantly running around foraging and hunting for food. Our bodies were made to move, and today they are still built that way.

So let’s move!!

Illustration from http://sushipotvintage.etsy.com/

The Frequent And Small Maxim

To help us get moving, I like to apply the “frequent and small” maxim. The best thing about the “frequent and small” maxim is that it eliminates the hopeless tug-of-war between control and guilt. The end goal is not to lose weight or get super buff or anything like that (although moving a lot will definitely help towards this end). The goal is simply to move. In “frequent and small” doses. 

This “frequent and small” maxim can actually be applied to a lot of things. Think about it. Eating “frequent but small” meals is better for you than eating a few very heavy meals per day. Drinking “frequent and small” glasses of water throughout the day is undoubtedly better (and easier on the bladder) than drinking a whole pitcher in one go. Dedicating a few well-placed minutes to hobbies, like practicing a musical instrument, writing, gardening, is more effective than putting in several hours once a month.

The same is especially true when it comes to moving our bodies. Rather than spending so much time sitting and waiting to do your intense gym sessions a few times per week, consider the benefits to your health when you move your body constantly throughout the day, every day.

The 10-Minute Workout, Times Three article by New York Times suggests that a single 30 minute chunk of exercise broken up into 10 minute chunks times 3 can still have the same health benefits. This article does a really great job of making the case for the remarkable benefits of short, cumulative exercise.

Among children and teenagers, repeated bouts of running for even as little as five minutes can reduce the risks of high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure. Also, intense sporadic movements throughout the day is great for boosting metabolism and helping with weight control.

Even just standing up, as opposed to sitting, can help increase metabolic activity and reduce the risk of cardiac disease and diabetes.Stand Up For Fitness,” is another great article about the risks of a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, after reading about the benefits of standing, I was encouraged to type half of this article while standing up!

Movement That Flows

Although we’ve discussed how exercising frequently is much better for you than sparse, intensive bouts of exercise, for me the word “exercise” is still fixed to this rigid idea we’ve created in our heads. It means, we are still setting time aside to exercise and counting the minutes that we’ve spent moving our bodies. I find this type of movement awkward because movement shouldn’t be a scheduled and separate THING that we have to do. Movement should flow. It should be integrated in our daily rhythm and feel as natural as breathing.

So how do we get ourselves to move constantly, in a way that flows naturally with our daily rhythm?

Well kids can actually teach us a lot about naturally flowing movement. When you spend a little bit of time observing children, you may notice they are constantly bouncing off the walls! Everything to them is a game. They climb trees, play hide and seek, spin around and leap over parts of the floor that have suddenly transformed into hot lava.  Why, as adults, do we have to be so serious all the time? We have literally grown up to become rigid, sitting lumps. And if we feel like spinning around or leaping in a spontaneous burst of joy, what’s stopping us? Do we ever get these types of feeling any more?

In order to create movement that flows naturally in our lives I think we need to bring back the element of joy. We need to move, not because it’s written in our schedule, but because it feels good! And movement can be as exciting as racing a friend in a short sprint. Or as simple as standing up, stretching, and going for a ten minute walk.

 

What about you? What are your simple ideas for bringing “small and frequent” movement back into your life?