Your are designed to move. To walk frequently pivot, turn, lunge in multiple directions, to push, pull, hoist, stand, sit and get back up again. With regular movement, your joints stay lubricated and injury free, tendons stay robust and all the components of your skeletal and muscular system move fluidly, without soreness or restriction.
But what happens when you all but stop moving? Quite a bit, and none of it good. Discomfort, stiffness and mobility notwithstanding, a sedentary lifestyle is associated with increased cancer risk, depression, lower cognitive ability, prediabetic blood sugar levels (even if you’re at a healthy weight), diminished sex life and reproductive health, sleep disruption and insomnia, disk degeneration and resulting back pain.
To stop the sedentary life from getting the best of you, you’ve got to move more. Easier said than done when things like your commute, job and family get in the way. But if you look for opportunities to move throughout the day, be it a power walk around your office building, adding a standing desk, frequent stretches at your desk or daily lunchtime walks, you can combat the sedentary effects. And if, in addition, you are able to fit in a formal workout, you’ll end your day having put even more movement into your daily health bank.
Simply put, movement improves everything, so keep doing it, and make it a priority. Upon waking, ask yourself, How can I move more today? What else can movement do for you? Lots more than a cabinet full of prescriptions! Here are a few more medicinal upsides to add to your movement mantra:
Movement – it’s medicine that’s always with you.
Movement’s medicinal benefits aren’t just for the long-haul, they kick in within a matter of minutes, several, quick 5 or 10 minute daytime movement breaks can help keep you limber. As you move your body, stress levels start to dip, immunity gets a lift, and your circulation, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels improve within minutes, though getting those super-fit Michelle Obama arms or washboard abs might take a little longer.
Movement boosts mood, no prescription required.
If you want to feel good all over most of the time, movement is key. Moving more throughout the day, and adding a few simple weight baring moves – like a few a.m. planks, plus a set of light hand weights while sitting in traffic – can help increase lean muscle mass, decreases fat or both, while encouraging the release of blues-busting brain chemicals like serotonin and endorphins. The result? Movement will make you feel happier and more relaxed.
Movement makes your body more resilient – and shows your heart a good time.
Simply put, movement makes you healthier. When you’re healthier, you’re more resilient, you heal faster, you can handle stress better and keep your blood pressure out of the danger zone. What else does movement do for you? It loves up your heart by strengthening the heart muscle, increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation throughout your body, all of which helps lower heart disease risk.
Movement helps you live better, longer – and look good doing it.
If you’re looking for the fountain of youth, movement’s got you covered. On a cellular level, studies indicate that plenty of movement can add several years to your life, in part by protecting the length of your telomeres, the end-caps on your DNA which shorten with age. Your internal organs will function more youthfully too, as will your largest external organ, your skin, enabling you to maintain that ‘healthy glow.’ So more movement every day might help keep the Botox doc away!
Move today without fear of sleep-eating or sleep-driving tonight.
We’ve all heard stories of people doing strange things when zonked on prescription sleep aids, and their link to increased Alzheimer’s risk. Why play with fire? Move more instead. The movement you do by day impacts what happens during your night. If you have trouble getting good, restorative sleep, working more movement into your daily routine will help burn off the nervous energy and anxiety that may be keeping you up. Tiring your body out physically is also important because several studies have shown that moderate aerobic movement can trim a few minutes off the time it takes to fall asleep, lengthens the duration and quality of sleep. Move more to sleep better? Count us in.