We have become chairs……
I am fascinated by how adaptable our minds and our bodies are. As a movement leader and yoga teacher, my profession prevents me from becoming sedentary. But I can see how this could easily happen to anyone, and realistically, mostly everyone.
We are aware of the health risks associated with overeating, alcohol and drug abuse, high levels of stress and pollution, but we are just beginning to understand the impact that long hours of sitting will have on our long and short term health.
Before I go on, please stand up now. Stretch your arms over your head and rise up onto your tippy toes. Shrug your shoulders a few times, Shake your hands out. And then take three deep breaths followed by three big sighs.
Our bodies were made to move. Our legs were built strong to support the rest of our bodies. Our hips were made for mobility so that we can walk, run and squat to pick things up. Our spines were made to bend and extend, rotate, lean and undulate. Our arms were made to push and pull, lift and lower, throw and catch. And our entire bodies were made to carry a load of nearly half our weight, to jump higher than the height of a chair, and to run or walk maybe up to 10 miles a day. This is our birthright.
Okay, here we go again! Stand up and then sit down on the floor 10 times without using your hands.
We sit on average for 9 hours per day. We get out of bed in the morning and then sit down to eat our breakfast. Then we get on the bus or into our cars and we sit our way to work. We arrive at work and then sit through the day, through our lunch and then through our commute home, sit for dinner, sit watching television and then go to bed and lie down once again. We sit so much that our bodies have started to take the shape of a chair. This is not what the human body was designed to do.
Hey there, let’s get moving again! Get yourself into a downward facing dog and for the next 60 seconds walk around the room.
Sit in a chair, become the chair. We BECOME what WE DO. The mind and body are completely adaptable. Most of our aches and pains come from a lack of movement. We are only as old as we allow ourselves to feel. And the good news is that we can reverse the negative affects of sitting starting now by shortening the amount of time we spend in a chair and increasing the amount of time we spend performing some of the natural movements of the body. Movement is medicine and we can heal ourselves.
Here are five things you can start doing right now to get moving:
Insert a walk into your commute.
Park a few blocks away from your workplace or get off the bus or skytrain a stop or two early. It’s a great way to clear your mind and walking has been proven to improve circulation and helps to ease back pain.
Schedule “movement meetings”.
Find a patch of grass and practice some animal walks.
Locomotion is an awesome way to improve and retain the body’s natural biomechanics. Here’s one of my favourite videos for some ideas.
Try a new form of exercise.
Changing your movement patterns or cross-training challenges the body to strengthen weak and immobile areas and encourages more symmetry and balance in the body’s abilities.
Sit less and MOVE MORE.
When working, get up and walk around about every 20 minutes just to get the circulation flowing and the joints lubricated. Ditch the car and buy a bike. Wear an odometer and try to get 10,000 steps in every day (approx. 1.5 hours of walking). When standing, stand tall! And remind yourself often that you were made to move, all ways.