The Importance of Movement
Everyone has heard the phrase that an object in motion stays in motion. As much as most of us would like to believe that this isn’t true, unfortunately it is. But why is it so hard for us to accept? All too often we stay indoors in a sitting position if life will allow us. We’ll go out of our way to put off daily chores, and errands in a second just to avoid the extra effort that it calls for. How did we get this way? We live in a time that everything is readily available. Before, we would have to make our clothes, raise and harvest our own food, build our own homes; that used to be the norm. The more we evolved as a society, the less we had to exert ourselves physically, and the lazier we got. We can have food, clothing, household supplies, and even groceries brought to our doorstep. Why would we go through all the pains to acquire these things on our own? Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many physical jobs out there that require long hours on your feet whether serving customers or manual labor, so when you get home, you just want to rest. But what about those who work office jobs and sit for most of their day? While those jobs are just as exhausting mentally, which can sometimes be just as bad, still physically, it’s taking a bigger toll on our bodies without us even realizing it.
“Excessive sitting is now linked with diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression,” says James, Levine, M.D., Ph.D., the director of Obesity Solutions at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Arizona State University. It is estimated that the current generation of children will die earlier than their parents, which may be linked to their sedentary lifestyle per Dr. Levine. Dr. Levine also stated that “People who are physically active at work become more productive, about 11 to 15 percent more productive”.
When you’re active your body releases ‘feel good’ hormones. That’s why even when you struggled to get out of the bed for your morning workout, you felt energized afterwards. When you feel better about yourself, you tend to have a more positive and productive day.
Have you ever woken up from an extra-long night’s sleep sore, and needing more rest than before you laid down in the first place? It’s because while our bodies need rest to recover from the previous day’s activities, there is a point where too much sleep and not enough movement in your muscles can both begin to cause more issues than they do benefits. People should get on average 7-9 hours of sleep daily. For some, 7 hours is perfect, while others need that full 9 hours. You need to listen to your body to see which is right for you. For example, when I get 9 hours of sleep, I feel exhausted when I wake up. However, when I get 7 hours of sleep, after initially getting out of bed, I feel rested and ready for the day. If you oversleep, which is sleeping more than our body requires wherever on the scale you fall, you can be in danger of increased inflammation, increased pain, depression, higher risk of heart disease, the list goes on. There will be times that you will sleep more than ‘normal’ and that may be what your body needs at the time, but just remember to find a balance between sleeping too much and truly resting.
The same goes for your movements throughout the day. While you may have to sit or stand still for long periods of time for your job, be sure to counter that with regular breaks that involve as much full-body movement as possible, as well as good exercise and stretching routines, and a generally active lifestyle on your off-hours. This will help to keep your heart healthy, your body strong, stop your joints from stiffening, and overall lead to a healthier body.
Our bodies are amazing specimens that can do wonderful things, but to be at their peak performance, we must take care of them. By taking care of them, we must keep them moving, whether that means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from the store, or walking to the nearest store instead of driving. These few steps will have your body thanking you in the future.