This is our mantra at Beyond Movement PT. We believe in it so much that we literally have it written on our walls in our Sparks clinic.
There’s no disputing it. There are thousands of research articles that support the health benefits of movement and exercise. To name a few: improved mental health, reduced rate of mortality, reduced risk of chronic diseases, improved memory, improved focus, reduced pain, better weight management, improved mood and libido…and many more.
The reason that we say “movement is medicine” instead of “exercise is medicine” is because some people feel like exercise is only for people who are in shape. It’s really just semantics, but almost everyone can move. Moving a little is better than not moving. Moving often is FAR better than moving a little. Exploring various movements (i.e. walking, running, squatting, lifting, stretching, etc.) is the ultimate goal. Movement variety is crucial.
Just taking small steps toward a more active life will snowball into big changes and real results over time. Your body and your health will thank you.
Here are 5 tips to help you get your daily doses of movement:
Ever hear of a workout partner? The majority of people suck at forcing themselves to workout. Do you have a coworker who exercises? Do you have friends or family that have similar goals as you? Ask them to join you in taking small steps towards your movement goals. This could be a step challenge (who gets the most steps in 30 days), daily walks in the neighborhood, or simply someone to go to the gym with you and keep you on track. Don’t have anyone in your life that fits? Get yourself a personal trainer.
2. Move when you feel stiff or achy.
Feelings of stiffness, soreness, achiness, etc. are actually cues for you to move around. These feelings could be from exercise, injury, or inactivity. The body sends signals of stiffness to tell you when it needs to move. Make it a point to get up and stretch at this time.
3. Get up every hour and move while at work.
Set an alarm on your phone, set your watch to vibrate each hour, put a timer on your computer, whatever you need to do. Simply standing up and taking some steps will help the body a lot.
4. Block off time in the day/week for purposeful movement.
This one could be daily or several times per week. Purposeful movement means a workout, hike, walk, stretching session, run, yoga, etc. Set blocks of time and stick to your schedule. Some common times that work for people are before work, during lunch, or right after work (stop at the gym on the way home or do something as soon as you get home).
Not a gym person? Do something fun and active. I’ve mentioned walks and hikes a few times, but this could be a team sport, local league, yardwork (if you’re into that sort of thing), axe throwing, flipping tires, or really anything you find fun that requires some form of physical activity.
All of this talk about movement has been great. There are a few precautions to exercise. Most people will underdose their exercise and movement, but it is important to make sure you don’t burn yourself out with too much volume. If you have pre-existing conditions or illnesses, please consult with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program. Movement is medicine, but it is not the only medicine. Other “medicines” for a balanced lifestyle that I’d like to mention are rest, nutrition, stress management, family time, and enjoying life to the fullest.