If you think about it, our bodies are made to move! But our modern lives have shifted toward sedentary or repetitive work, so we don’t have as many opportunities to move. Movement is so important. Our physical therapists see people every day who haven’t been moving enough. Their pain and stiffness is proof that you must move it or lose it! It’s never too late for you to focus more on movement and its benefits.
The Benefits of Moving
Movement benefits you in so many ways. Physically, movement positively affects the body and brain. Studies have also demonstrated multiple emotional benefits of moving.
Body—Movement on a variety of planes keeps your muscles and joints more supple and strong. When you move, you increase blood flow, which helps healing all around the body. Metabolism relies on regular movement.
Brain—When you move, your blood moves more, which is key to brain function. Movement results in increased focus and concentration. There’s even evidence that it helps with brain cell production. Its positive influence on brain function also results in improved sleep.
Emotions—Movement releases endorphins that act as mood boosters. Even a short walk around your floor or block can decrease stress and improve your mood!
The main benefit is that you’ll feel better! Your brain, heart, bowels and circulation will all work better. Your mental state will also improve.
Why We Need to Get Up and Move More
We started as cavemen, and our upright human physiology, with its capabilities of moving joints forward and back on different planes of motion, is structured to work in fields, foraging and hunting for our food. And even now, think about how kids play when left to their own devices—crawling, climbing, swimming, splashing, rolling around, throwing balls. As adults, we lose so many of these opportunities to move in new and interesting ways.
Many of us sit all day and wonder why we’re stiff, why our backs hurt or why we have digestive problems. Others work in factories, doing the same motions over and over again, never breaking their bodies out of those repetitive motions.
As you can now imagine, our work lives as adults today are so different than when we were growing up—or when our ancestors were top-notch foragers and hunters. What would happen if we could crawl and climb more rather than sit or stand all day at work?
How can we find ways to move our bodies through all of the motions they are capable of so we can stay flexible and agile? Here a few ideas for incorporating more movement into your day:
Warm up before working
If you sit, set an alarm to get up and move throughout the day
Have a 4-minute dance party with your kids
Stretch your body and limbs gently on a regular basis
Work out on different machines, not just treadmills and ellipticals
If you experience regular stiffness and aches and pains, try getting up and moving more. To feel the benefits of movement, start today!
Melissa White is a certified Occupational Therapist, Iowa Workers' Compensation Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist and Fitness Nutrition Specialist who worked in the local healthcare system for a decade prior to starting Balanced Fitness & Health. Having personally struggled to recover from a car accident, her goal is to give people the tools to live healthy, pain-free lives. To that end, she provides corporate ergonomics and injury prevention programs, results-focused rehabilitation services and personal wellness and nutrition plans.