Your amazing moving machine
Movement is a fundamental aspect of life. Human bodies were made to move but it seems we sit more and more these days.
We sit down to travel, at work we sit at our desks, then we come home, and we sit down to relax until it is time to go to bed. We have made an art out of sitting still, hunched over computer screens for hours on end.
Most of us are now working from home so it is easier to forget to move and some days we may move no further than our desk to the fridge and back.
Creaky knees, stiff backs and getting breathless from going up the stairs aren't only signs that we aren't as healthy as we could be, but also that we aren't getting enough quality daily movement. We need to remember that our bodies are designed to move.
Our body has 206 bones and more than 600 muscles. These parts all work together to make our bodies an amazing moving machine. Like any machine, your body can suffer some wear and tear and it needs regular care and maintenance to keep moving with ease.
Movement is medicine
Movement promotes healthy joints, strong bones, physical strength, good circulation, good coordination, improves learning skills, concentration, and mental well-being.
When we think of exercise we think about our chest, bicep, tricep or our quads, glutes, hamstrings but just like any other muscle, the heart needs physical activity too to help it work properly but we don't have to exercise heavily to get the benefits.
Even low to moderate intensity activity reduces the risk of developing coronary heart disease and can reduce the likelihood of dying from heart disease.
Simply walking, swimming and stretching can help relieve chronic pain, even more than bed rest. It helps to maintain good joint and muscle mobility, promote bone, ligament and tendon strength, and help prevent major diseases. What's more, it can improve your posture. Poor posture isn't necessarily down to 'bad habits' as physical reasons can include inflexible muscles and poor muscular strength.
Regular physical activity also releases feel-good hormones that make us feel better in ourselves and is effective in reducing the likelihood of experiencing a period of depression.
Movement is possible, and important, at any age
As we get older, regular movement is even more important as it helps to maintain muscle mass, bone strength, and reduces the pace of mental decline. We can't stop the clock, but we can slow its tick by moving and also improve our quality of life.
Take my 91-year-old Grandad for example. I went to see him in August 2021 and he wasn't able to stand up from his sofa. He said "it's like this when you're my age, I won't be young again''. My Mum and I told him of course that "it shouldn't be like that, you can do better'' we told him this each day. I gave him examples of some of my more mature clients to demonstrate that it is possible to move again. My grandad lives in another country, but with the support of a physiotherapist friend who was incredibly helpful, and lived close by, we gave him some exercises to get him off the sofa. I never stopped encouraging him. I am so proud of my Grandad, he started to move again holding a frame at first but now he uses sticks. Finally, he too believes he can do it.
Just keep moving
We don't want to move when we suffer from pain but we need to move if we want to heal and reduce the pain in the longer term. Slow, regular movement is able to improve our quality of life but like Grandad, we need to take an action.
Julie, one of my Pilates students, understands getting fit is important at any age. She told me recently "your classes have made an enormous difference to me keeping supple and active. Many of my friends have trouble just getting out of their chair!'', I know she's not the only client that feels this way.
I am afraid resting is rusting. So, to keep your body as young as possible, for as long as possible, keep moving.
Active have experienced and qualified instructors that can help you in your fitness goals, but before starting any new exercise program it is worth consulting your doctor, you want to be sure you are medically fit before starting something new.
If you're not ready for the Gym, or a fitness class just yet, try these simple tips to keep moving:
- go for a walk and get some fresh air on your lunch break.
- take phone calls, standing up, or pace the room while you're speaking
- do some laps of the room during TV ad breaks
- take the stairs rather than the elevator
- get off the bus a stop or two early
- meet friends for a walk in the park instead of sitting in a café with a coffee
Simple changes can make a big impact on your wellbeing and the overall quality of your life.
Believe you can move better, motivate yourself to improve your movement and well-being,
Remember, resting is rusting and movement is medicine.
Jagim,A. 2020. The Importance of Movement available at https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/featured-topic/the-importance-of-movement
Anon, 2019. What are the benefits of movement and physiotherapy assistance. Aveailable at https://pivotalmotion.physio/what-are-the-benefits-of-movement-and-physiotherapy-assistance/
Anon, 2020. Just Move: The Six Benefits of Everyday Movement. Available at https://anschutzwellness.com/just-move-benefits-everyday-movement/
Beerkens, C. Why Moving the Body is so important Available at ( https://www.awellnessrevolution.com/why-moving-the-body-is-so-important/