Habits of Healthy Motion are one of the cornerstone elements of the Habits of Health. Before we go any further, though, we need to cut off a common misconception: When I say Habits of Healthy Motion, I do not mean exercise in the traditional way that weight-loss gurus talk about movement. The full picture of Optimal Health is bigger than what we do in the gym and this misunderstanding is one of the many reasons so many people around the world are frustrated with the “diet & exercise” formula they hear time and time again.
Movement is a critical part of your Habits of Health journey, but the research overwhelmingly points to a key insight: We need movement throughout our day, not just in a gym session.
Think about it: If you spend 30 minutes a day at the gym lifting weights or on the treadmill or in a group fitness class, you are spending 23.5 hours a day mostly or entirely sedentary. That gym time is important and you should build it into your routine but 30 minutes of activity cannot undo or prevent the consequences of a lifestyle that is otherwise almost entirely immobile.
To reach your health goals, you need to weave motion throughout your day and this is becoming even more important as many of us spend our careers and our leisure time sitting at desks or on couches. With the Habits of Health approach, you can burn calories throughout your day and reap the rewards of a more active lifestyle (while staving off the consequences of long periods of sitting).
Here are three simple ways to build new Habits of Healthy Motion:
- Stand: When we stand, we activate multiple muscle groups to support our weight and create stability. If you can mix in periods of standing when you would usually be seated—such as at work with a standing desk or even when you get a phone call—you can burn more calories.
- Stroll: A walking program can be an easy way to schedule exercise, especially if you invite a friend to join you, but walking more throughout your day is also important. Walk to the far water cooler on your breaks, take the stairs when you can and park a few extra spaces away from the door. Each step counts and they add up!
- Samba: Dance! Whether you simply tap your foot or go all out like you’re on Broadway, listening to music and letting it move your body to the beat can help you to move more. Fidgeting might seem insignificant, but studies have shown that even these small movements, over time, lead to large numbers of burned calories.
Remember, your formal exercise program still matters, and you should stick to it, but adding movement throughout your day is critical to achieving optimal health. Get up and move!