We all know we need to exercise. By building movement into your daily life you have the simplest, cheapest, most accessible and most effective way of improving your physical and mental health, not to mention also improving the outcomes of almost every treatment for any chronic degenerative disease. With diabetes, heart disease, depression and cancer on the rise, there has never been a more important time get moving. Exercise preferences can be highly individual, so I’ve put together some basic principles that should guide you when planning how you will move.
Mobility and functional movement
Incorporating exercises that mimic everyday movements is an essential part of a good exercise plan. Moving, mobilising, strengthening and aligning joints and muscles will not only make everyday life easier and more sustainable but will help prevent injury. In practical terms this means incorporating twisting, turning, bending, squatting, stretching, pulling, lunging and pushing into your workout. You are never too old to incorporate functional movement into your day.
The core muscles refer to everything except your arm and leg muscles. They are essential for postural correction and joint stabilisation. Without them we would be unable to hold our 4.5kg heads up and walk on two feet.
Throughout history, short bursts of extreme activity would not have been uncommon. Today, some high intensity, intermittent exercises combined with steady, low intensity exercises such as walking mimics the hunter and gatherer lifestyle we evolved from. If walking isn’t your thing then cycling, swimming or rowing are all great low impact activities to incorporate.
Load bearing exercise is essential for muscle development, neural development, bone density and bone health. It is important this is done in a safe and controlled manner to avoid injury and damage.
Your body is capable of amazing things. It can undergo huge change if your mindset is focused and positive. Believing that you can do something and then setting yourself time-bound and achievable goals is the best way to implement change.
Community and accountability
Finding a community that supports and encourages your exercise plan is essential. Whether it is an online community or a physical one (e.g. gym classes), these are the people that will keep you accountable and encourage you along the way.
All of these steps are about incorporating sustainable and effective movement into your day. Make an effort to make movement part of your entire day, not just 30 minutes at the beginning or end. A stand up desk is a great way of getting off the chair and incorporating some simple movement into your day. I’ve been using a stand up desk for just over a year now and I’m amazed at how much more energy I have at the end of the day and how much more focused I am. Create an exercise plan that feels right for you, that inspires and motivates you to live your best life.
Movement is one of five pillars of wellness in my new book, A Life Less Stressed. You can order your copy here.