kids doing yoga

Movement is Medicine- Are You Getting Your Daily Dose?

Throughout our lives, we go through stages and seasons of moving our bodies in different ways. As toddlers, we enjoy playing on the swingset or playground or just running around the yard or inside the house. This phase of life mainly involves sitting still when riding in the car or sleeping. It displays this beautiful sense of creative freedom of play that keeps the body agile and resilient. (Think about how many times toddlers stumble and fall in a given day, and they get right back up and try again.) 

As school-aged children, we are taught to stay seated at our desks but get regular intervals of physical activity through recess and physical education class. After school, weekends and summers for many children are filled with activities such as sports, dance, fishing, and other movement-based recreational activities. Once we are at the age to start working our first jobs, our movement either increases or decreases depending on the requirements needed in our work tasks. 

After high school graduation, this is where it gets interesting. Whether we go straight to the workforce or to college, the amount of movement we do tends to decrease. Technology enables us to move less and be attached to a device multiple hours per day. This is a pivotal moment in our lives because our decisions we make in regards to our health and well-being tend to set the curve for the rest of our lives. 

My pivotal moment

When I was in about eighth grade, I was pretty certain I wanted to be a teacher someday. I loved playing volleyball but was naturally pretty small in size and wanted to get stronger. My parents purchased a home gym weight machine which I used regularly. Looking back, it is amazing to me that I didn’t injure myself because I went about the workouts all wrong. I still chuckle to myself about this, but I just worked as hard as I possibly could and figured it was helping me to be a better volleyball player. I developed a love for working out because it gave immediate sense of accomplishment. Als, at that point in my life, it made me feel stronger. 

Sophomore year of high school, my aunt suggested to me that I should do something with exercise in my career rather than being a school teacher. I had no idea you could do that, and I started looking into it. One thing I knew for sure was that I would never have a “desk job.” Living a long healthy life where I could do anything physically that I wanted to do was my goal at quite a young age. Fast forward a couple decades and movement is still my weapon of choice in helping myself, my family and my clients to experience more enjoyment in life. 

How has movement impacted your life?

No matter what stage or season of life you are in, consider the role that movement has played. How much movement do you do in a given day currently, and how does that compare to a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago? Do you desire to change anything about the amount or type of movement in your life? 

Perhaps, you are a mom with young children. I am going to venture a guess that your Apple Watch or Fitbit is telling you that you are getting at least 10-15,000 steps per day. This exceeds the recommendations. However, you might be noticing that your body feels, well, out of whack, for lack of better words. You right lower back acts up sometimes and feels tight and your left hip feels weak and unstable. Maybe your neck has some tension in it- more than just from sleeping wrong. You know that you should be doing some exercises to help this, but you wonder where you are going to find time in your day for this. 

Maybe your work is incredibly stressful these days because you don’t have enough staff on your team to meet the daily goals, not to mention the annual goals and to make the customers happy. You have noticed that you are having more back pain and your mood is so unstable. One moment you are laughing and the next, you are crying. You are not as patient with your kids as you’d like, and you feel resentful that your self-care/exercise routine has taken a back seat to work. 

If any part of this sounds familiar to you, then you can rest assured that you are in good company. In fact, I hear stories similar to these all.the.time. However, this doesn’t mean that it has to always be this way. 

Let’s focus in a bit because I want to share with you the most important sentence of this message…..MOVEMENT IS MEDICINE! Doing it will give both immediate and delayed results. It is different from pharmaceuticals because there are no negative side effects when doing the right type at the right dose. Of course, too much movement or having very poor form can cause injury, but those situations are rare. 

How do you know what type of movement is best for you, and how much should you be doing? First, you need to look at what you are doing currently. Also, think about a time in your life when you had your best movement routine. (whether it was a formal exercise regimen or an ideal amount of daily physical activity) Compare your current conditions in life to the time when you had your best routine. 

The American College of Sports Medicine and CDC recommend that all healthy adults aged 18-65 should participate in moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes on five days pre week or vigorous intensity for a minimum of 20 minutes on three days per week. Every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of two days per week. 

Now that you know the guidelines, your current situation and your best routine in the past, how will you move forward? I suggest that you give yourself the time to make a long term plan. Then each day take one small step on the path of this plan. This is very simplistic for now, but there will be future blog posts in this topic…many more in fact so please stay tuned. 

If you are ready for action and would like support, that’s what I’m here for. I specialize in corrective exercise and in coaching people, especially moms, in creating a wellness vision and moving forward with effective goals that help people feel their best every day. Please reach out to me, and let’s get started together. 

Wait…One More Thing!

Before you move on to the next part of your day, give your body a quick dose of movement medicine. Join me in this Fit Mom Moment where I show you three exercises to correct mom posture. You deserve the time it takes to try this form of movement medicine. You can even count it as your dose for today!