“Walking is man’s best medicine.” ~ Hippocrates
Last week, we wrapped up Pillar #4 of “The Year of the Best You” – Live in the Present Moment. Today, we will start on Pillar #5 – Movement Matters. As before, we will discuss this pillar a bit more below, provide a printable PDF worksheet for the month and then recap how we made out on May 28th.
Without question, we are all aware that physical activity is an important part of our well-being. Over the years, many fads have come and gone with respect to the best forms of exercise, however, all of them involve one common denominator – ‘moving our bodies’. Having said this, as you see in family medicine, knowing it and achieving it are very different. Some people feel they have no time, some people are dealing with health problems and/or injuries and some people find it difficult to get motivated. In addition to this, we go through different periods in our lives where physical activity goals look different. Ideally, it should incorporated into our lives in a regular and sustainable way.
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for adults (ages 18 to 64 years) recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity. A perfect example is brisk walking. As Dr. Mike Evans says in his well-known, must see video 23 and ½ Hours, the single best thing we can do for our health is exercise, especially walking for 30 minutes a day.
Physical activity has always been important of my life and has taken on various forms over the years. For various reasons, it certainly looks different now than it did in my early 20’s. Now in my 40’s, walking, yoga and pilates are at the top of my list. Overall, these forms of movement are kind to our joints and have a low chance of injury.
Many other types of activity are good at any age such as biking, hiking, jogging, swimming, certain exercise classes, simple weight training, etc. The key is to pick activities that are both accessible and that you enjoy doing.
Picking your lane
Let’s take 3 common scenarios and you can pick the lane that fits you best:
1) I’m too ______ (busy, tired, stressed, sore, etc.) to exercise.
• All the more reason to get up and get moving!
• Studies show that low-intensity exercise results in a 65% decrease in fatigue levels.
• Movement gives us energy and helps us sleep at night.
2) I can usually start a regular exercise routine but I have a hard time sticking to it.
• This often means we need an accountability coach to stay on track. Knowing someone is counting on you can be key – i.e. a trainer, a partner, a friend, a co-worker or a dog.
• Consider using an app to stay on track.
• Recording your activity and setting attainable goals may be beneficial.
3) My life is better (physical, mental, social, etc.) when I am physically active so I prioritize it.
• This is fantastic! However, I do have to highlight the potential for exercise to become addictive, excessive, risky or essential (i.e. to mental health). I don’t want to focus on the negatives here because I am sure we all know examples. It’s the exception not the norm.
• Consider becoming a mentor for someone else who admires your discipline and could use some help.
A few other ways to sneak movement in your day
• Book time in your weekly schedule for a walk with your spouse, friend, kids, or dog.
• If your job requires you to sit, make a point to regularly get up and move around. Consider alternative workstations if possible with sit-stand options.
• Organize a walking meeting instead of sitting around a table.
• Explore some fun yoga/workout videos you can do at home.
• Crank some tunes and dance!
• Look into workplace wellness options that are available to you or that you can facilitate in your work environment such as treadmills, noon hour yoga classes, etc.
• Make a point of parking further away in a parking lot to get some extra steps.
• When at home, consider standing to do your computer work, set a timer to get up/move around if you are working on a project or add some standing stretches while watching TV.
• Take the stairs when possible.
• Record your activity in your calendar and commend yourself for showing up.
Movement is essential to our health and well-being! Please print off the worksheet to join in this month’s activity. I will do the same and we will recap on May 28th.