Muscles grow by using them, and if you don’t use them you lose them. This is atrophy. The growing of muscle fibers is hypertrophy. This mantra can mean as finite as your muscles, or as grand as your mind (once you stop learning, ignorance grows), and your body (the less you use your body, the more it shuts down); the idiom “practice makes perfect” doesn’t always lend to mere constructional talents. This is your body, your castle, treat it well. NOW is the time to put up the scaffolding and get to work; and as the structure is shaped and sculpted, inside the electricity will be re-wired, the walls will be fixed… the plumbing will be flushed, you get the drift. No excuses.
This article will easily show how anyone can “fit” 20 minutes of health into a 24-hour day. We didn’t learn everything on the first day of school, health is a process, an entryway to a new way of living, and consistency, dedication, and motivation are the keys. Not every body is alike, so please be careful when doing any type of physical activity. Although some of these suggestions could be considered simple by some, if you are concerned with any pre-conditions, please consult your doctor. Listen to your body and always drink lots of water. If you ever feel dizzy or light-headed, please stop.
I am not here to simply prescribe exercises due to concerns of correct form, breathing, and safety; to truly understand and correctly do a squat or a lunge, for example, it’s best to be guided. Many people look at pictures or descriptions and then go ahead and hurt themselves or create later problems in their kinetic chain (neuro-muscular-skeletal system). If you choose to exercise, talk to a professional (if you are one that doesn’t ask for help, all I ask is for you to balance your ego with your health). This article is to get you to move, and to use your muscles in different ways and use different muscles in new ways. Doing any activity with someone is not only great support and motivation, but safe.
Think for a moment how often you sit during one average day: on public transportation, in a waiting room, in your car, at work, while eating, on the couch/favorite recliner or at your home computer, in the bathroom, and on and on…. Now think about how many days per week and how many hours per day that you are not actively active. “Actively” active is different than active. “Actively” or “functionally” active is not running to get the train, playing video games, running around the office, walking to the store, walking your dog, carrying groceries, running to get out of the rain, walking up the stairs to your apartment, etc. This is being functionally active, or doing the minimal necessary active work that is required for daily activities. Being “actively” active is not being purposefully sedentary. It is this reason, among our diet (the “Standard American Diet” or “SAD”) that America is the fattest country with the highest deaths and illnesses caused by poor nutrition and inactivity. Even for boomers and those who cannot move well, for whatever reason, even moving slightly is better than nothing – moving the limbs gets the muscles working, the heart beating which leads to the blood flowing, and the sweat… sweating, even mental clarity and an overall feeling of well-being occurs.
Michelangelo once said “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”. Another quote by him: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free”. It is your choice to start carving or remain to be the block of stone (or mound of clay). Most importantly, enjoy the process, and if you don’t enjoy it at first, fake it until you make it. Listening to your own music during exercise or activity has been proven to increase motivation and intensity.
If you are unable to stand, then move as much as comfortably possible. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Roll your wrists, ankles, shoulders, and neck. Flap your arms. Hug yourself. Bend your knees. Squeeze a soup can between your legs and do two-legged leg lifts. Move your butt in circles. Put both hands on one side of a chair and do a nice spinal twist. Reach both arms up and then fold over and gently try to touch your toes from the seated position. Reach one hand up all the way to the sky and the other one all the way to ground. These are just some of the many ways you can move in your seat. Be creative. The less you move the less you will be able to move.
Being actively active is NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which is different from exercising itself which is EAT: Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.
Here are twenty simple ways for anyone to be NEAT, and remember, no excuses:
- Stand more. It’s just that simple. It burns more calories. Try on one leg.
- Walk more. Walk backwards, sideways. Jump! Skip! Don’t be shy! Have fun!
- Take the stairs. Less time on the elevator. Walk up the escalator.
- Ride your bike. If you don’t have one, buy, rent, borrow one (and wear a helmet).
- Run. Run in place. Run forward. Walk fast and build up from there.
- Teeter on your heels instead of just standing. Walk on your toes, your heels.
- Jump rope. If you don’t have one, buy, borrow, or pretend and jump the air!
- Jumping jacks. The old fashioned kind.
- Lay prone, press into the floor, raise and hold your body up as long as possible.
- Lay supine, lift your legs, bend at your waist, and reach for your toes. (see photo)
- Grab a small weighted object, squeeze it, move your arm in different directions.
- Lower and raise yourself off the edge of a chair, couch, any stable raised surface.
- Do push-ups. If you cannot, start on a wall and then try a stable raised surface, then go lower and lower to the ground. Try on your knees.
- Sit up and down in a chair. Try one leg. Try holding an object as you do.
- Extend an arm, shoulder-height, and kick the hand with the opposite leg. Switch.
- Lay supine and raise and lower both legs. Try one leg at a time. Try moving, them over to your right side, then left, and then down center.
- Get on your hands and knees. Extend one arm and the opposite leg. Switch.
- Try yoga.
- Play a sport. Learn a new one.
- Dance. Dance alone, dance with someone, go to a dance class, dance in public.
Here are some suggestions where and when you can be NEAT:
- Going to and from work. At work.
- Doing laundry.
- Watching television. During commercials.
- As a passenger.
- Any time you find yourself waiting.
- Before your morning shower.
- During any of those “functional” activities mentioned earlier.
… And more. Be creative.
It’s your choice to have a better well-being. This is your opportunity to feel good. Start TODAY by fitting in 20 minutes of your choice of any of these physical activities, think of new ones and suggest them by replying to this article, and see how you are next week, next month, next year…. Why wait for tomorrow when you have 20 minutes today?
Remember to take it one step at a time. Begin now. Have fun; even if you don’t, then vent, cry, scream! Allow yourself to feel, and then conquer this great challenge. Inhale. Exhale. Enjoy living, healthy. If you would like to add your thoughts, please feel free to comment below! And don’t forget to share the health!