It is no secret that our modern society is plagued by a movement crisis. In general, we could move more on a daily basis, and if we do we could do it better. This pandemic issue stays in stark contrast to our history – as natural movers.
Even more paradox than this evolution against our history is that it is a well-known problem. Nonetheless, it is solely well addressed.
That’s why I wanted to share with you my favorite ways to incorporate more, better, and a greater variety of movement into your day-to-day life without much more effort.
Moving hasn’t always to mean more exercise. That is far from reality and for most not convincing. Better movement comes firstly with habitual changes of things you already to daily.
OK – firstly – let’s address the problem and talk about what is exactly meant when we speak of moving not enough!
What is exactly meant when we speak of not enough movement?
Total amount of movement
Like the name suggests – we dedicate not enough time in movement in general. But, what is enough?
It is hard to chisel some rules into stone here valid for everyone. What can be stated more easily is that most people living in a modern western society move far less than we did a while ago. Modern office life and overcomfort take their toll.
I would say – move at least 3 hours a day in total. This may sound much but in fact it isn’t:
Assuming you don’t live next to your workplace, by solely walking to your work and back from it by foot you get around 1 hour of movement in.
…and maybe accumulating 1 hour of small movement breaks throughout the day you got this timeframe already covered.
Another great thing is to hit a baseline of steps per day – to make movement measurable. Aim for 8.000-10.000 steps per day here.
Quality of your movement
Do you move well?
While I think up to a point there is no such thing as perfect movement, I believe doing biomechanically suboptimal movement over and over can cause no good.
Nonetheless, many even struggle to maintain an upright posture or performing a bodyweight squat – two movements humans should be at ease with.
Have you got mostly a healthy posture and know how to move with ease?
Do you move well in the gym and especially under external load?
How do you sit? How do you walk? Do you have pain while performing some basic movement?
Variety of movement
Besides quality, and quantity, variety of movement is the third important factor.
Especially variety got banished from our lives by working behind a desk. Many movement patterns are non-existent in our day-to-day life unless actively done – take for example hanging from a bar* or squatting. When does your day to force you to these moves?
How often do you hang down from a bar or something?
Do you carry heavy things around?
Do you do the things you do in many different ways? There are a ton of slightly different ways to sit, walk, and carry.
Do you remain for a long time forced into one posture? Or are you often moving around between them?
Especially the last point might be the most important. The position you are in is less important than the duration you are not changing the position. Standing the whole day or squatting literally all day every day isn’t good either.2
Which benefits does moving more have?
Bye bye, Stiffness!
Everybody knows the stiffness after remaining in a position for too long. Ever flown 10 hours plus, or worked 8 hours straight onto a demanding project, sitting like in chains in front of your laptop screen?
Explore the range you are capable of on a daily basis and your stiffness will get better – I promise!
One great thing to try are CARs. Especially Neck CARs helped get rid of my stiffness there.3 But they are all a boon!
You burn more calories effortlessly
Who doesn’t like to burn more calories to either lose some weight or frown pure hedonistic gluttony without getting fat.
You will be astonished how many calories can be burned by solely walking. Or even moving light. It is a lot over time!
The proportion of daily movement is in most cases greater than the calories burned by every workout that day.
I burn around 400 calories solely by walking each day to my university/workplace and gym by feet.4
By moving daily you improve your recovery. There is nothing better for your body than active recovery (expect sleep) – and by that I mean just walking around.
By walking blood gets pumped into all the tissues and more blood equals a better overall recovery.
Depending on the moves you do it can also improve your mobility greatly – or at least keep the range you already own. Mobility is ruthless – the principle use it or lose it is a real thing!
You will feel active and awake
Everyone who is working hard on some project knows this – you have to work but can’t think straight anymore. My best tip for everyone wishing to boost their productivity is – to stop everything you do, go outside and take a walk. Or move.
Afterwards your head will be cleared up and in most cases find new energy to work on that project.
It doesn’t have to be much – just get outside, get some air for 15 minutes pr do some light mobility work at your workplace if getting out is not an option.
If afterwards your productivity is still not existent – end it or take a short nap.
Five tips to move more daily
Sit on the floor
Yes, you’ve read it rightly – sitting on the hard floor.
The floor’s hardness is a benefit! It provides a feedback mechanism and forces you to switch your position every few minutes.
This way you move much more compared to sitting in a chair without anymore active effort.
While watching TV – sit on the floor.
Or take your laptop with yourself down.
You can also slice your ingredients while cooking sitting on the floor.
The possibilities are nearly endless.
In the beginning, knowing to sit in which position may be confusing – but after a while, you’ll switch without effort from a 9090 position into a straddle into a fisherman squat – while watching fully immersed The Witcher.
When at your desk, set yourself an alarm for 1 hour. After this hour you will move for 5 minutes.
No matter how, as long as you do something that feels good. Walk a bit. Do a few CARs. Squat down and open your hips. Balance on one leg. Or whatever you are up to in that moment!
I always use this Chrome addon. Alternatively, you can use the oldscool alarm you use when cooking.
Have combined movement-rituals
This one is really powerful!
Attach one habit onto an existing one:
Brush your teeth with a little twist – squat down. 3 minutes in the morning and evening equal 6 minutes of squatting a day without any active work!
Rotate your shoulders and get them overhead every time you wait for your next cup of black caffeine-loaden awesomeness.
Eat your breakfast at a low table while in a squat or sitting on your floor.
When making a call go for a walk.
All of these habits stacked onto other habits are mighty creation to move more on a daily basis without any more effort. #noexcuses
Movement after waking up and before sleep
I think the first thing you do in the morning will be to make a coffee. I don’t think movement can win this fight. Totally understandable! But directly afterward, while having a cup of this dark beauty, move a bit. Just for 10 minutes to warm up after laying in bed for 8+ hours.
This might be the most often repeated on this list – but it is true! We humans are made to walk. A lot!
Walking to different locations is a splendid way to move more daily.It costs some extra time, that is true, but I think it will be worth it.
The next time you have to go somewhere think about walking. Why not abandon your car for shopping the groceries and do it entirely by feet – this will save some money, too.
Of course, this strongly depends on your lifestyle. A lumberjack might move slightly more variable than a keyboard warrior.
This point is strongly exaggerated by Kelly Starrett stating that the elongated time spent in one position may cause more harm than the positions itself. I believe it is the mixture of both. A broad variety of postures and many switches between them.
Until I started handstands – now it is stiff again. Nothing comes without a price…
While doing so you can listen to podcasts, audiobooks or just calm down.