It is 2019 and the human race is engaged in a massive battle. Created as 'Homo sapiens' with a body made for movement, 'Homo convenienco' is attacking hard to deprive us of what is good for our bodies: MOVEMENT. Some of you might even think you are fighting back by going to the gym several times per week.
But can you really win a battle when you are not utilizing all tools and resources at your disposal?
We all know that sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to our health (it is actually the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality!!). Yet, 'Homo convenienco' holds a firm grip on us. Some of his closest allies include: elevators and parking lots.
So, it is time to fight back and reclaim your right to move beyond gym time.
It's not about exercise at the gym
Let's be clear, when I talk about movement and physical activity, I am not referring to exercise. Exercise is different than physical activity. Physical activity is the act of bringing movement to our bodies throughout the day, whereas exercise is intentional movement for a specific amount of time to help with physical fitness.
Don't get me wrong, exercising is also very important for overall health and a regular exercise plan should be part of a healthy lifestyle. However, while many people are actually quite good at carving out 30-60 min 2 to 3 times per week for dedicated exercise, very few of us pay attention to the amount of movement and physical activity we do outside of this dedicated time.
The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Broken down, this equates to around 20 minutes a day. Wow, let that sink in for a second. Just 20 minutes a day will empower you to show 'Homo convenienco' the way out the door. I don't know about you, but for me this an easy yes on "challenge accepted."
Join the troops
To get our troops aligned, all it takes is adding a few easy to implement strategies.
3 ways to reclaim your right to move:
1. Break through enemy territory: Take walking breaks throughout the day. Expand your forces and enlist colleagues and take some time together to decompress. If you are lucky enough to have a few 15 min breaks at work, use these to take a walk outside.
You can also easily add more steps to your day by always parking at the back of the parking lot. Not only will you increase your daily steps, you also won't have to fight the chaos that can ensues in the front of the lot! Think about it this way, every time you pull up close to the building it's a wasted opportunity.
2. Create Win-Win Situations: Take family or friends for a walk at a local park a few times a week. Make meeting up with people less food-focused and more activity-focused. Meet up for a walk or bike ride instead of going out to dinner. You will not only save money but also do something good for your health. A win-win situation for body and wallet.
3. Counter Attack and Charge Forward: Do not succumb to peer pressure or the alluring opening of the elevator. If you are an able-bodied person we need you to join our troop's pathway, aka the stairs. If you are a fellow stair-goer you typically run into the same few people trekking it up and down the stairwell. I do realize that many might be worried about sweating if there are multiple flights of stairs to walk up. But what about those times that you take the elevator to just go up or down a floor or two? If you are like me and spend the majority of your work day sitting at a desk, why would you then spend time away from your desk standing in an elevator? If you have to change floors, this is the perfect opportunity to add movement to your day. Not ready for the sacrifice? Maybe these stats will convince you otherwise.
Call to action
Pay attention and notice if you are letting 'Homo convenienco' get the best of you. Use these easy steps to get started and you might just come up with your own additional ways to add movement to your daily routine. So, keep moving forward and heed the words of Bob Marley:
"Get up, stand up. Don't give up the fight".
Amanda Windhof, PhD is an MS lifestyle advocate who wants to ensure a healthy diet is accessible to everyone.