Today I want to talk about simple things you can do to increase your day to day activity. By making gradual changes to your physical routine, you allow the tissues in your body (your joints, muscles, ligaments and nerves) to adapt to the changes and slowly become stronger over time, whilst minimising risk of strain or injury. Suddenly starting a vigorous gym program or returning to sport after a 5 year hiatus and expecting to gain pain free results is, in my eyes, equivalent to a novice cook poaching an egg in boiling hot water, expecting the yolk to come out smooth and runny. It just is very unlikely to happen!
One of the things I love about my job is that I learn how to take care of my body. To highlight how invaluable our joints and muscles are, let me pose a question:
Would you sell your arms or legs for 10 million dollars?
No way! You can’t put a price on something that is so fundamental to our well-being. But say you did decided to sell your arms and legs to make a fortune – your whole world would change. Your relationships, work, enjoyment, leisure, among an array of other important things, would be turned upside down.
So if we would never sell our legs for that vast amount of wealth, then why do our lifestyles reflect a stark lack of value for their function? Why do we repeatedly choose activities that seek to minimise their capacity rather than nourish them?
Our culture today is for the most part geared towards being idle. Think Facebook, Netflix binges, regular coffee or dinner catchups. Even our fashion choices today tend to inhibit full body movement. Try cart wheeling in a dress or chasing after your dog in skinny jeans. It’s uncomfortable and awkward. And so what do we do? We slowly stop doing these things, not realising the potential long term impacts on our joints and muscles.
You may be wondering how I can so audaciously point out all the flaws with our current sedentary culture. Well the reason is because I have been guilty of doing all of them! Of spending hours on Youtube, Netflix, Facebook, Google. Always suggesting catching up with friends over hot beverages or food. Opting for impractical garments which literally inhibit a movement rich lifestyle.
As you read this, I hope you have started to think up some ways you could personally increase the amount of physical activity you’re doing day to day. If you’re still perplexed though and just want me to get to the point, please see below my top 5 tips on incorporating more movement into your every day life!
- Sit on the ground more. Now this may not be realistic for some people, so it can be more of a long term goal. However, for many people, sitting on the floor more often is a great way to improve your hip and knee flexibility and strengthen your leg and butt muscles. Nowadays we don’t tend to sit on the floor because chairs and couches are so readily available. Eliminating this action from our every day lives robs your body of flexibility, strength and also negatively impacts your pelvic floor.
- Go for more walks. The benefits of walking are grossly underestimated. Not only does walking benefit your cardiovascular health and nourish your joints, but it also benefits your pelvic floor through strengthening your glutes. It’s better to walk outdoors on a footpath or uneven terrain than on a treadmill. A treadmill eliminates the actions of the glutes because the platform beneath is propelling your body forwards. If you find walking uneventful, listen to a podcast or audiobook or go for a walk with a friend to catch up. Park further away from your destination to get a bit of extra walking in.
- Wear clothes that aren’t too tight! Tight pants, dresses and shirts not only restrict freedom of movement, but tight garments around the waist create pressure through your abdomen. And that pressure has to go somewhere! Usually it will push down on your pelvic floor and pelvic organs, which can contribute to prolapse and incontinence.
- Get excited about household chores. Yes they can be repetitious and often monotonous, but think of all the movements you’re incorporating! In my opinion this is a great, time-saving, practical exercise that, similar to walking, is grossly undervalued.
- If you’re a parent or have nieces and nephews, playgrounds are great
opportunities to get extra activity in. The obvious ideas are pushing the kids on the swings and helping them to reach up to the monkey bars, but you can also challenge yourself by having a go at the monkey bars too or climbing up on equipment, or even just walking across a balance beam.
I hope these practical tips encourage and inspire you to make every day choices which nurture a movement rich lifestyle.
Until next time,