I’ve got a simple tip for helping you move from being a sedentary person that aches, holds on to weight, and has no energy to one that cultivates movement as a way of life.
You know that weight loss advice that says “just take the stairs” or “just park farther from work.” Well, I have a bone to pick with this advice. I completely agree with the idea that you should work more movement into your day, but I don’t think it goes far enough. Unless you work on the 5th floor or you can park a significant distance away from your work, these short bursts of movement aren’t really going to help you. And in some cases, this advice may give you license to splurge a little. “Well, I did walk up and down two flights of stairs today; a cupcake won’t hurt.”
Put the cupcake down, Cindy!
Here is the thing. We have to move more. But more importantly, we have to get intentional about breaking up those looooong periods of sitting at our desk, in our cars, or binge watching The Great British Bake Off. We have to cultivate the mindset of “how can I get the most movement out of my day.”
I know this seems silly in its simplicity. But if you think about it, most of us are hardwired to look for the easiest path. Spend any time driving around a parking lot looking for the closest space recently?
We have tons of labor-saving devices — from cars to mixers — to make sure our lives are super easy and our bodies super stationary. Heck, I can even change my thermostat from my phone. My phone! I don’t even have to walk the 10 steps to do it manually.
I am not saying to sell your car or throw out your electric can-opener. But I am advocating that we rethink how often we rely on these things. Researchers have found that people in the Blue Zones (areas of the world where people have a high quality of life long into their lives) all share a few things in common. One of those things is that they incorporate physical activity into their days naturally. They garden, they knead their own bread, and, when they go out, they walk!
You might be thinking people in those Blue Zones have an environment more tailored to this sort of movement. And I get that. Especially in the States, we have built out cities to be car, not pedestrian, friendly. But I contend that half of our blocks are in our mind. I spent years living without a car both in Europe and in America. It’s not always easy, but, in my experience, it is doable.
Try one (or more) of these ideas: Walk your kids to school. Walk to the grocery story or your friend’s house. Walk or bike to your office. If that’s just not doable, yes, follow the advice to park far away. But also think of how you can move more inside your office. Stop calling and emailing if you can walk down to your co-worker’s desk. Instead of hopping in your car for lunch, how about walking to get your food? How about hanging your clothes on the line? After work, how about you throw yourself a dance party to get the stress of the day off ya?
You’re going to eat anyway, might as well use the fuel well.
So how are you going to start moving more? How will you cultivate that mindset of movement? I think I’m going to take a break and have a dance party right now.