The word “exercise” weighs us down. It brings about feelings of stress and obligation. Moving should never be burdensome, it is one of the body’s most basic functions. Forget about the word “exercise” and simply focus on moving more. Incorporate motion into your daily life in a way that feels good, because even simple movement has massive benefits:
Moving your body not only improves mood, but also helps combat anxiety and depression. Movement may also help individuals cope with stress.
Boost your immune system
The lymph system is a series of channels and nodes dispersed throughout the body that move lymph fluid. Lymph fluid contains infection-fighting white blood cells. It is an important part of the immune system because it is responsible for removing potentially harmful toxins and bacteria from the body. The lymph system relies on motion to circulate lymph fluid around the body. Each time you move large muscles, you help pump lymphatic fluid through your body, keeping your system circulating and preventing illness.
Movement is not just good for your muscles. When your muscles push and pull against bones, this also helps to build and preserve bone mass. Any sustained activity in which you work against the force of gravity, such as walking, dancing, or taking the stairs, helps to build bone mass.
Enhanced Brain Health
Movement improves cognitive performance for people of all ages. In one study, children who participated in physical activity demonstrated increased electrical activity in the brain, as well as improved mental accuracy and reaction times.
But how can we move more without having to “work out”? Below are some suggestions to keep your body moving:
- Take a stroll: Listen to an audiobook on a walk in the park, or window shop at your local shopping mall.
- Dance: Put on some of your favourite music and move in all of the ways that feel good. Dancing is wonderful, it incorporates a range-of-motion movement such as arm sweeps and hip swings. Next time you clean the house or get ready in the morning, put on some tunes and incorporate dance.
- Garden: Gardening often involves walking, squatting, reaching, and pushing/pulling. All healthy ways to move!
- Stretch: Stretching your body not only helps to move lymph fluid, but also helps to keep your joints flexible and lubricated. Stretch while watching TV, listening to music, or talking on the phone.
- Tone while grocery shopping: When feasible, use a shopping basket rather than a push cart. By carrying a basket around, you will be performing weight-bearing exercise for your arms while strolling around the supermarket.
- Play with your children: Children burn plenty of calories, and they don’t even realise it—they play just for the joy of it! Engage in a game of tag or hide-and-seek — focus on the fun.
- Enjoy the outdoors: Go for a bike ride, hike or ski. Moving your body outdoors means you’ll also enjoy being in nature, which is helpful for mental health too.
- Take a class with a friend: The options are endless. From salsa to yoga, water aerobics to pilates. Taking a class helps you reap the benefits of socialisation as well as continued learning, both of which contribute to cognitive health and wellbeing.
You see, it’s simple. Move more and reap the rewards. Be aware of how you can move more and take action!