Most of us have heard of, participated in or been a victim of April Fools day, but less of us realize the other important holiday at the beginning of this month.
The first Wednesday of April happens to be National Walking Day! How do you think you should celebrate this day? By taking a walk of course. Research done by the American Cancer society has found that even just a little walking has a big impact. However, I encourage you to do more than just a little walking.
I have heard it scarily said that sitting is the new smoking and although I don't readily have the data to support this, I trust it to be true. In fact I see it with my clients. Those who struggle with chronic or inflammatory health conditions generally tend to have jobs that require sitting for an extended period of time. And unfortunately it's not just sitting itself that is the problem, it's sitting for extended periods of time. This means that it is best to move around throughout the day. Or at least reduce your sitting as much as possible. I still tell people to move when they can and if you can only do so after work then by all means do that. But if there is any opportunity to alter your day or your environment to allow more movement then you should definitely take that route.
One of my favorite reference to use with clients (as well as with friends and family) is the Blue Zones. In fact most of the education that I do with clients stems from the information that Dan Buettner and his team were able to gather and publish in regards to these scattered locations across the globe. What makes these places so special? This is where there are the most centenarians living, meaning the greatest population of people who live to be 100 in a small secluded area. I don't necessarily focus on the longevity aspect of living with my clients, rather I focus on the quality of life these individuals have. In fact an email from the Blue Zones website this morning was what informed me that there was such a thing as National Walking Day. As the article on their site will tell you, the individuals in the Blue Zones don't necessarily go to the gym or do a workout video when they get up in the morning or at the end of a long day of work, in fact very few of them would even consider "exercising". Movement is just a part of their day. Life is simpler in many of these areas, people live in close proximity and much of their food is sourced locally. This means that there are very few if any desk jobs, there is more walking to and from locations, and there is the need for physical tending of animals and gardens. Daily movement is just one area that the Blue Zones is #winning.
So what can you do? Aside from moving to a Blue Zone and completely uprooting your family and life- (I encourage you to do so if you can, although I have yet to get my husband to bit on that one...)- I would suggest you start simple. Too often we focus on how this or that WON'T work for us, but let's look at what you can do right now. Can you stand up? Great! Do that! Can you walk to the bathroom or to a neighbors desk or even down the hall? Great! Do that after you finish reading all this. :) Maybe you can't walk down the hall then just continue to stand up every so often. If you are literally glued to being seated take a few moments to move your feet around. There are many options for desk sitters on the market, one you can request a standing desk. These are quite popular and not so hard to come by anymore. You can also get something like a pedaling station under your feet or even a stability chair that works your core while you sit. If you aren't as glued to your seat then take advantage of every opportunity to move. Instead of sending an email to Suzy Q down the hall- go deliver the message yourself. Not only will this help you get movement in but also addresses the issue of our loss of connectivity with people. There is just something so much more valuable about a face to face discussion. If you can't remember or think to create opportunity for movement in the day then use your handle electronic devices to remind you. You don't even need a special app or device, simply set an alarm as a reminder. Try setting it every 30 minutes to remind yourself to get up and at least strand and stretch.
If you can take it a step farther consider walking over your lunch break, maybe you are in a location that you could walk to a coffee shop for lunch. Could you even walk to the school to pick your kids up? Sometimes I will purposely park a few blocks away so that I and they have a forced walk after class. There are so many ways to add movement into your day. Do not limit yourself to the confines of going to the gym or not. Set your life up so that it requires movement. Park further away, walk or ride your bike whenever its an option, Take multiple trips up and down the stairs at home when cleaning the house. Take multiple trips to carry groceries in - we are all guilty of fitting 15 bags on one arm to avoid taking two trips in....
Whatever you can do, do it! Here's a list to sum it up but don't be afraid to pave your own path (pun intended).