Let’s face it: Our bodies were designed to m-o-v-e MOVE! We weren’t meant to spend our days sitting, commuting in stop-and-go traffic, typing away on computers, hunched over our iPhones. We were built to be beautiful bodies in motion. Unfortunately, the shift toward a sedentary lifestyle has led many down paths of chronic pain and/or injury, often resulting from declines in flexibility, balance, circulation, immune system efficiency, lean muscle tissue and bone density. The good news: Even if you are one who has succumbed to the sit-stay mentality, it is never too late to get moving! The positive benefits of incorporating movement into your life are plentiful, and we have made it our mission to help you achieve better health through motion.
While it may seem like an uphill battle to make such lifestyle changes, every hill is an opportunity, so embrace it. Trust us, it will be worth the effort. Research has shown that excessive sitting increases your risk of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, sleep disorders, mood disorders, depression, anxiety and more. Physical activity, on the other hand, promotes better blood flow, nerve mobility, endorphin release, muscle lengthening and strengthening, flexibility, balance, immunity, bone health, and productivity. It also helps prevent insulin resistance (which causes Type 2 diabetes) and reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cognitive decline (e.g. dementia).
OK, so now that you’re armed with reasons to take this active journey, let’s get started. You’ve bought your ticket, you’ve jumped on board, and you’re joining our Movement movement – fantastic! Let’s talk about the What, Why and How to set it all in motion.
The What: While gradually increasing your physical activity in a general sense is a great start, we also want to focus on what our bodies were designed to do: functional movement. From everyday chores to competitive sports, we all work in three planes of motion. In the Sagittal plane, we move forward and backward (e.g. reaching for a plate from the shelf, running stadium stairs). In the Frontal plane, we move left and right (e.g. side stepping in tight spaces, basketball defensive slides). In the Transverse plane, we move in a rotational motion (e.g. lifting grocery bags from the shopping cart into the car, swinging a golf club). Our muscle fibers are not 100% linear; they curve around the body, thereby creating motion in all three planes.
The Why: It is important that we train and strengthen our bodies in all three planes of motion, but why? If we do, we are able to more effectively react to our external environment, prevent injuries, and create movement and stability that matches up with our body’s full potential. It is also important to create a movement routine and stick to it. While many will follow a prescription medication schedule without hesitation in hopes of improving their health, there is often reluctance to follow through with movement as part of rehab and/or maintenance outside of the clinic. It takes willpower and commitment, but we know you’ve got both! Samantha Cooper Cauthon, one of our phenomenal physical therapists and movement specialists, shares her thoughts. “I see this in a lot of patients who have very busy schedules. They aren’t sure where to fit 20-30 minutes of focused movement into their day. I educate patients on the importance of making time to care for their bodies because, let’s be honest, we each only get one. I sometimes relate it to oil changes and tire rotations. People make the time for preventive care for their vehicles – shouldn’t we treat our bodies with at least the same level of care, preferably better?” As a solution to those who can’t seem to find the solid block of time, Sam suggests “breaking up movement sessions. If you can’t carve out a 30-minute block, try incorporating three 10-minute sessions throughout the day: before work, during lunch, and after work.” While the shorter sessions may not have the same aerobic benefits, you’re still becoming a better body in motion!
The How: We know what we need to do and why we need to do it, so how do we get up and get moving? While routines customized for you by your physical therapist or personal trainer are extremely helpful, there are also plenty of simple activities you can incorporate into your everyday life that will have a big impact on your health. Biking and swimming are great low-impact exercises, but if you don’t have access to the equipment or a pool, a leisurely walk can be done anywhere, at any time. That stair case you pass by on the way to your office – stop and stretch your calves and hamstrings. That chair that you’re sitting in – get up out of it at least once an hour. Step outside for stroll around the building and breathe in some fresh air. If you need to stay inside, take Sam’s advice and “walk to the restroom, walk to the water fountain, walk up and down that flight of stairs – just move!”
Commit to the Movement movement and stay the course. Once you begin achieving better health through motion, you’ll wonder why you ever were content to sit and watch your potential pass you by. Get up, get active, get healthy!