I got to hear about, and occasionally see, how life was for traditional Peruvians. The number of differences of that life with our own is numerous but I’d like to focus on one aspect: movement and muscle engagement.
The bulk of their daylight hours involves/involved physical activity, whether it is/was working with livestock, hoeing, gathering, preparing and cooking food, or transporting items. Lots of muscle movement and activity.
So why should you care?
To be honest, the activities of the Peruvian people are mostly irrelevant to us. Except, it shows us how much movement our body was build for. We are so far away from that amount, it’s no surprise that sometimes our bodies don’t work in an optimum way.
Today, we are going to simplify how to increase movement.
All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.
To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.
To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.
Quick rules to increase activity:
1. Move up the ladder. Look at areas in your life where you can: stand instead of sit; move instead of stand; increase the intensity instead of easy movement.
a) Use standing desks*. There are ways to make inexpensive standing desks for school. For example:
- Use bed risers to put under the legs of the desks,
- Some desks have adjustable heights. Using an adult desk for a younger child with legs extended gives enough height to create a standing desk for a child.
- Make your own, as seen here https://www.weareteachers.com/make-your-own-standing-desk/
- Use a long narrow table as a shared standing work area.
b) Create a time rule.
Mega-productive Brendon Burchard sets a timer whenever he sits down to work at his computer. Even though he is a productivity expert and does numerous things to be better able to focus, he only allows himself to work at the computer for about an hour. Then he gets up and does something physical. Think about that: a healthy, physical fit, mentally trained adult can only work optimally for about an hour. So, how many minutes do you think a child can work? Twenty minutes? Thirty minutes? What if every 20-30 minutes there was a one-minute movement break? Speaking from experience, the first few times, it feels like a distraction. But, once it becomes routine, then it helps increase focus.
Some One minute movements suggestions: a slow squat (20-30 seconds to go down, 20-30 seconds to come up), knee lifts with arms held high or opposite hand touching the raised knee (crossing the median), stretch and squat (reach high for 10 seconds, squat down and finish with high for 10 seconds). All of these can be done with little room, in little time and no equipment.
c) Activity rule.
Associate increased activity with an activity. Easy examples are: standing or walking when on the phone, and stretching during screen time.
2. Awareness and tracking. There is an adage: you can’t improve what you don’t measure. By tracking mood and exercise, activity should be reinforced.
A simple way to do this is to use eating as a reminder. Prior to eating ask yourself two questions: On a scale of 1-10, how much activity did I get since my last check-in? And, on a scale of 1-10, how do I feel right now?
Regarding question #1, if you start to become aware of movement, chances are, it will increase.
Regarding question #2, even if you don’t do any movement, becoming aware of moods and the factors that impact them, is an essential life-skill to develop.
3. Variety. We not only need to use our large muscles, our supporting muscles need activity to not atrophy. For example, the knee lifts mentioned above. An optional movement is to have the knee make a circle by, while lifting the knee, cross it over the midline, lift it as high as possible and then bring it down towards the side of the body. Good for the body and good for the brain.
4. Appreciation. Acknowledge any increase in movement. And I do mean any. I have finally started to do a regular exercises routine on an almost daily basis. It is still early days but I’m confident I’ll continue. Why you may ask am I confident I'll maintain this attempt at daily exercise? Because I’ve been doing one minute of exercise every morning for over two months. It’s now part of my day. It might only be one minute but 1) it's now habit, 2) it makes me more aware that doing more movement feels good, and 3) moving to a more intense routine (but still not very intense), isn't a big step.
5. Convenience. I know you’ve heard before. If the movement isn’t convenient, then it won’t be ongoing. I use a spooner board and a very slow rocking motion when at my DIY standing desk, sometimes when speaking on the phone, and sometimes during screen time. It could also be used during lecture time. Check out both our spooner boards and our Batboards. Limited spooner colours and limited numbers. If you want several, contact for a discount.
As we move into fall, may you move throughout fall (and beyond).
Sorry to say, if you are in Alberta, this is more like a winter day.
Providing calmness & comfort, learning & laughter,
P.S. This is my one-minute exercise that I do every morning. I simplified the count by doing four to the front, four to the side and repeating four times. Then doing the other side. It literally takes me about a minute to do. Not only does it do all of the wonderful things she says, it also helps me to get moving in the morning, and be in a better mood. Great payback for a one minute investment.
* To determine standing desk height: https://www.btod.com/standing-height-calculator.html
Other websites used in this article