What challenge? you ask.
Let me remind you:
So, mamas, will you join me in a commitment to modeling better habits and practices for your children this year so that they can experience the life-giving effects of a movement-rich life that promotes wellness of body and soul? Their future health — and yours — depends upon it.
Many of you gave me an emphatic yes, and I plan to hold you to it!
I know. It’s particularly difficult during the winter months to squeeze in exercise. But remember, we’re not just talking about 30-60 minutes at the gym here. We’re talking about moving more. And there are plenty of opportunities to do that within the comfort of your own home and the confines of your schedule! I’ll be sharing several ideas with you in this post that I hope will help you see how easy it is to move more and improve your health in the process, all while setting a great example for your children. It’s a win all around, isn’t it?
First order of business: enlist the help of an alarm. Set it to sound off every 30 minutes and use it as a reminder to take a 1-2 minute movement break. Many of us can get lost sitting at the computer, or on the couch with our kids reading books, for hours at a time, but this is horrible for our bodies. We should never be still for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time maximum unless we are sleeping. And our fingers moving across the keyboard just don’t cut it!
What qualifies as a movement break? It can merely be standing up and walking into the kitchen for a drink of water. Better yet it will involve some stretches aimed at loosening up those tight hips and shoulders. I like the ones here:
- Propeller Arms: Dynamic Shoulder Warm Up and Stretch
- Pelvic Circles
- Arm Swings
- Shoulder Circles (Don’t laugh! I know some of these are from Eldergym and we don’t qualify as “elderly” yet, but these are great movements to incorporate into our days now, so we don’t need them desperately later!)
- Overhead Raise
- Beginner Level Arm Swings
- Classroom Exercise Breaks for Elementary Students (Designed for kids, but why not have the entire family participate?)
It can also be performing some purposeful exercises, such as wall push-ups or lunges. It doesn’t have to be exercise, though – any movement counts! It’s okay if these moves feel “weird” as you introduce them to your life but if they create any physical discomfort, then you shouldn’t be doing them. Don’t push through pain – it will only lead to injury. You may need a personal and hands-on evaluation to help determine what the issue is. But I digress. Let’s get back to it.
One way to increase movement in our days is by becoming less efficient. Yep, I just said that: you weren’t mistaken. We have so much on our plates that we become queens of efficiency at times, don’t we, mamas? Stop it – for your own good as well as for the good of those you love and who love you! So – how can we become less efficient in order to move more? Here are a few ideas:
::Instead of piling laundry into a basket to make only one trip out of the laundry room why not carry one armful at a time to wherever you’ll be doing your folding? This will make you take at least three trips to and from the laundry area rather than just one. The distance you travel may not be great, but you’ve just done it three times more than before, and that means more movement for you.
::Maybe you fold the laundry right there in the laundry room? Here’s a great way to incorporate a number of squats all while folding your laundry. Whether or not you follow this method pay attention to how she squats to get the laundry out of the front-loading machine. That’s good body mechanics, and you want to follow her lead.
::Do you have a basket at the bottom of the stairs that you fill with things that need to go to the second floor of your house on the next trip up? Why wait? Do it right away. In addition to walking more you’ll climb up and down the stairs and increase your heart rate in the process.
These are just a few examples of how you can become less efficient and, in the process, become healthier. Easy peasy, right? I know you’ll come up with plenty of others as you evaluate your own daily routines.
You can also add more movement into other daily routines. Do you have a stacked washer/dryer combo? When you’re doing laundry be sure to squat low to put the laundry in the washer – no bent backs!! Remember the body mechanics tip at the linked video above? — and reach up high on your toes to place the laundry in the dryer. The same goes for when you’re unloading the dishwasher and putting dishes away. Doing just 2-3 squats and heel raises at a time over the course of all your chores every day can really add up!
Do you do a lot of reading with your children during the school day? Rather than snuggling on the couch why not try sitting on the floor now and then? The mere act of sitting cross-legged or saddle-style will help bring much needed range of motion to your hips and pelvis. And you’ll be using your muscles in a different way in getting back up from the floor!
Do you find yourself sitting down while you’re talking on the phone? Why not use the ringing of the phone as an opportunity for another movement break? You can squat in place, or do some standing stretches, or merely walk laps around the house while you talk.
Ready for a bit more of a challenge? Have you seen Katy Bowman’s 2016 Core Advent Calendar? So. Good. Try one of these moves the next time that alarm you set goes off. I dare you!
If you’re someone who already has a consistent exercise regimen in place I challenge you to up the ante a bit this month. Go for one extra run. Increase the resistance in your lifting routine. For those of you who are not “exercisers” I challenge you to incorporate one of these ideas into your routine once a day during the week for the month of March.
Who’s with me?