Movement doesn’t have to be complex, take a long time or be difficult to make a difference!
Let’s be honest. Most of us spend our days sitting, and sitting, and sitting some more.
We sit so many places…
* for work – at a desk or piano
* to commute – on a train, a bus, in a car
* to eat all our meals – in a chair at a table
* to unwind at night – soft couches and chairs
If we move at all, we tend to do our 30-60 minutes of cardio/yoga/pilates/walking and call it enough. But our bodies crave more and there are 24 hours in a day. Let’s say you spend 8 hour sleeping, that leaves 16 hours where you can sneak it bits of movement.
In reality, we thrive on variety. We do well when we add in small movements throughout the day. These don’t have to be complicated, take a long time or super hard. Small doses of movements that keep your joints moving are great!
Here’s a list of movements that you can easily integrate into your day. As you read these, think about all the places you can do these movements – while brushing your teeth, drying your hair, standing at your desk, vocalizing, chopping vegetables, watching tv, taking snack requests from your children, half listening to a zoom call, etc.
1. Roll your feet on a ball.
You can use a tennis ball, yoga tune up ball or pinky ball. Roll it under your foot as though the ball is a vacuum and your foot is a carpet – you want to make sure the vacuum gets every part of the carpet! You are in control of how much pressure you step with, so if you want something gentle, keep the pressure light. If you want more sensation, step a little harder.
2. Stretch your calves.
Roll up a towel or yoga mat, or use a half foam roller. Place the ball of your foot on top of the rolled up item or roller and let your heel drop toward the floor. You can control the intensity of the stretch by the position of your foot that is NOT on the roller. Keep it behind the foot on the roller to keep the stretch minimal and step it parallel or beyond to increase – just make sure your hips don’t shift forward too!
3. Do a pushup.
I know, I know, pushups, ugh… but upper body strength is something we all need and honestly, it’s really challenging to move your entire body weight as opposed to lifting a 5 lb dumbell. So, to find success at this, start with a push up on the wall. Place your palms flat on the wall and step your feet back. Try bending your elbows and bringing your upper body toward the wall. As you get stronger, progress to a push up on a table, then a bench, then the floor. Try pushups on your knees too!
4. Hang from something.
Another great upper body move! You can hang a pull up bar in a doorway, or if you are tall enough and have door casings, you can just reach up with your fingers and hook them over the casing (if you’re a terrible housekeeper like me, things might be a wee bit dusty up there, so prepare yourself!). Keep your feet on the ground and begin by just bending your knees and letting your arms begin to take the weight of your body. If you are a parent or caregiver of small children, this is an excellent way you can move at a playground while your kids play too.
Squatting is a great way to build strength in the lower body, all those big muscles that help ground us on stage. There are a million ways to squat and they are all viable. You don’t need to get yourself into a super deep, bum barely off the floor squat for there to be benefit. Play with a knee bend that goes out over your toes and then play with keeping your shins vertical – see how your body responds – feel your quads in the first one and your bum in the second one. Have a hard time keeping your shins vertical? Grab a door handle and use that for support while you squat. Try stepping your legs wider than shoulder width and turn your toes out 45 degrees and squat. Try getting into a squat and getting lighter on one foot to work towards a single leg squat. My point here? GET CREATIVE WITH IT!
6. Sit on the floor.
Let’s go back to all the places we sit – dining room chairs, desk chairs, piano benches, couches, overstuffed chairs, bucketed car seats, bar stools. When we sit in those situations we tend to stay in just one shape. When we sit on the floor, we are more apt to move around into new shapes – cross legged, z-sit, legs out straight, sit on your heels, an open V, and on and on – I’m sure you can think of other ways to sit when you are on the floor. As an added bonus when you sit on the floor you have to use more muscles to get up off of the floor. And you know what that means…more movement! Challenge yourself to watch tv while sitting on the floor, or take your laptop and put it on your coffee table and sit on the floor to use it.
If I had to add a 7th, it would be walking. Walk as much as you can. We are built to walk. Park a little farther away at the grocery store. Take a stroll around your neighborhood. Walk your kiddo partway or all the way to school. Walk around barefoot on grass, on sand, on gravel (build up your foot tolerance for that last one. Take a moment to contemplate all the places you walk in a day. Is there a way you could add in just a bit more walking?
Do you have other simple movements you like to do throughout your day? Share in the comments so we can all learn from each other.