Consistent movement/ exercise and nutrition plays a vital role in your ability to maintain your overall health and quality of life.
Most of us spend far more time sitting or lying down than we do standing or walking! Technology is undoubtedly the biggest factor in the global change from active to sedentary lifestyles. Some people get up out of bed, get into there car to drive to work, sit down all day at work, drive back home then sit down in front of the tv all night. This requires barely any sort of movement at all. What used to be the time consuming weekly supermarket shop is now conducted in front of a computer screen, with no heavy lifting or walking through the aisles required. Instead of hand washing kitchenware and clothes, these once potentially strenuous household tasks can be completed, hassle free, by a dishwasher or a washing machine, leaving very little active work left to do within the home. Although technology may make some day-to-day tasks easier, it demands more from human workers in other ways. Modern, technology-driven workplaces are highly productive but also very stressful. This leaves us even less inclined to exercise when we then have the opportunity for some down time.
Old fashioned hobbies such as playing sport or the children playing outside have now been replaced by iPads, computer games or the playstation. The lure and extremely addictive nature of these modern hobbies has resulted in us spending our leisure time in a much ‘lazier’ way than any previous generation.
Modern society has grown a somewhat unhealthy habit of consuming multiple medicines and vitamins in an attempt to maintain good health, instead of following more traditional routes like exercise and increasing general activity levels. Some people see this practice as a cure rather than a preventative measure, and this can be put down to a lack of knowledge and education in the areas of nutrition, health and overall body maintenance.
Convenience of energy dense foods are another contributing factor. In every town or every corner there is a bakery, McDonalds or takeaways that are ‘easier’ for people to access then making there own fresh food. The refined sugar, preservatives, additives, trans-fat and processed ingredients have shown to leave us feeling less motivated, brain fog and decreases our energy which leaves us less inclined to engage in active exercise. People claim that fresh whole-foods are more expensive then buying processed foods. This is not true and can be proven if you shop smarter by planing your meals for the week and eating seasonal.
There are so many benefits of exercise/ movement but here are FIVE that might motivate you to increase some physical activity into your day:
- The simple act of moving helps us with nutrient deliverance and waste removal by encouraging better circulation. It also supports better lymphatic drainage, allowing for toxins to be more effectively filtered and excreted through the bowels, skin, and lungs.
- Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress. It produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. It can also increase brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression. Additionally, exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain.
- It maximises fat loss, increases muscle mass and bone density. As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass and function, which can lead to injuries and disabilities. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age. Also, exercise helps build bone density. When you’re younger, in addition to helping prevent osteoporosis later in life.
- Exercise can improve brain function and protect memory and thinking skills. Regular physical activity is especially important in older adults since ageing — combined with oxidative stress and inflammation — promotes changes in brain structure and function.
- Regular exercise can help you relax and sleep better. In regards to sleep quality, the energy depletion that occurs during exercise stimulates recuperative processes during sleep.
Here are a few tips and suggestions for incorporating more activity in to your daily routine:
1. Take the stairs- Whenever you are in a situation where there is a choice between taking the stairs or using a lift or escalator, make the conscious decision to use the stairs. This is a great, easy way to inject a bit of activity in to your life without having to make any extra plans or special efforts. Both the stairs and the lift are both getting you to the same place; why not choose the route that will help to benefit your body in the long run?
2. Stand up at work- A considerable amount of modern jobs involve spending most of the working day at a desk using a computer. Research has suggested that standing at your desk rather than sitting can make a big difference to your overall well being. Try it for between thirty to sixty minutes during the day or invest in a stand up desk.
3. Take a stretch break- If you are in a job or traveling position that involves extended periods of sitting still, then try to remember to take regular stretching breaks. This not only helps to relieve tension, but also works to stop your muscles from becoming tight. This tightness in muscles is not only uncomfortable, but in the longer term it can also hamper your range of mobility and further discourage periods of positive activity.
4. Go for a walk– Quite simply, try to walk more. Experts in the field have suggested that a target of ten thousand steps every day is a good goal to try to maintain. This can be achieved by simple things like going to make yourself a cup of coffee rather than a colleague doing it for you, or walking to the nearby shops instead of making a shorter, probably unnecessary trip in the car. Use your phone as an activity tracker to measure the number of steps each day.
5. Do it with a friend– join a gym, sports club or arrange an activity to do with a friend, family member or coworker. Committing to doing some sort of physical activity every week with another person is holding you accountable and motivating you to do something.
Overall, though it may not be entirely our own fault, our generation leads lives that are much too sedentary. Make the conscious effort to become a little more active. The tips may seem like small ineffectual steps, but they can add up to a giant leap for your health, your immune system and your energy levels.