THE KEEP MOVING LIFESTYLE
by Dr. Warren
Your healthy body wants you to exercise it in a way that gets your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Why? The science is strong that performing this amount of exercise along with some basic nutritional awareness can drop your risk of stroke by 80%, drop your risk of heart attack by 50%, drop your risk of vascular dementia by 30%, improve your mood and relationships, and increase your productivity. There is even some evidence that this amount of exercise can drop your risk for some common cancers.
Why is regular exercise difficult? Well, in the short-term it is not. When you set a goal like daily exercise, you often succeed over the short-term. However, when it comes to maintaining your goal over the long-term, if you are like me, you often fall short. That is because we have failed to create a lifestyle of moving our bodies, which is to say a lifestyle into which exercise goals fit naturally.
My answer? Address the lifestyle first. Your success with long-term exercise goals will follow. For present purposes let’s give this lifestyle a title, the “Keep Moving Lifestyle.” Here then is your 3-ingredient Starter Recipe for the Keep Moving Lifestyle:
1. Create time-neutral exercise.
2. Establish a “Daily Minimum.”
3. Interrupted the chair.
To hammer my main point yet once more, please don’t consider these three ingredients to be exercise goals. They are lifestyle moves I recommend you make in order to create the fertile ground you will need to plant your future exercise goals.
CREATE TIME-NEUTRAL EXERCISE:
This is pretty easy once you get used to spotting opportunities for it. Here are some examples:
Example #1: Don’t allow yourself to sit down while you are talking on the phone. Move instead. Walk stairs, lay on your back and bicycle your legs, whatever, but just don’t sit. If you need to take notes during the call, do so standing up while moving your legs somewhat, like doing toe raises or other gentle stretches. If you are talking to a friend, just pretend you are taking a walk with that friend.
Example #2: Propose stand-up meetings, or walking meetings, in your work life. If your colleagues don’t buy in, then you can still stand while they sit. It is not as obnoxious as you think, so long as you refrain from jumping jacks. Just tell them you like to think on your feet. If they seem frustrated, it is because they know their healthy bodies want to do the same.
Example #3: Realize that elevators and escalators rarely save you time, but rather rob you from the movement your healthy body deserves.
Example #4: If you want to take the exercise-time equation to a higher level yet, read my short blog post on run-commuting, an activity I equate to receiving a free handout of time! http://imwisepatient.com/run-commuting/
Have fun, and as you create time-neutral exercise routines for yourself, please share them with us over the portal so we can can recommend them to our other patients!
THE DAILY MINIMUM – TREAT YOUR BODY TO A RITUAL:
Make a ritual out of moving your body each day. Here’s how. I call it the Daily Minimum. Your Daily Minimum is the amount of daily physical activity you insist on living with. Your Daily Minimum is not an exercise goal. It is more like “a floor”, a basic level of respect for your healthy body that you refuse to let the rest of the world interfere with. Sound difficult? It is not, so long as you aim low. Again, think floor, not goal. You must be able to accomplish your Daily Minimum at 10pm, with a head cold, in the snow, wearing moon boots, or pushing a stroller. Maybe your Daily Minimum is walking up the hill by your home twice, jogging a mile, 10 flights of stairs, 100 jump ropes. Be creative, but aim low. You are always free to exercise beyond your Daily Minimum, and many days you will, but try not to let anyone take your Daily Minimum away. It is sacred. It is your way of respecting your powerful body. See how many days in a row you can protect your Daily Minimum. Don’t increase it until you are able to protect it for 3 months in a row.
INTERRUPT THE CHAIR:
Get out of your chair at least once per hour to keep moving a bit and stretch your parts out. When your body is kinked up in a chair for too long, the blood vessels and other tissues kink in unhealthy ways. You can set an alarm to help you track this. Keep your breaks short though so you don’t loose your train of thought. Beware, before long you’ll be considering a standing desk. I say go for it! Imagine yourself: spine straight; hip, knee, and ankle hinges bent just the perfect amount; bouncing a bit to your work rhythm; thinking on your feet; and producing really good work!