Paleo is much more than just a diet. A diet is something that is temporary and unsustainable over the long run. Paleo is a lifestyle which means it encompasses aspects beyond simply food including sleep, stress management, and movement.
Movement is a big one, especially in modern society where so many are sitting in front of screens for 8 (or more) hours a day. There is an understanding that incorporating movement into one’s daily schedule is important, but is a one-hour exercise routine a few days a week enough?
Sitting is the new smoking and living a sedentary lifestyle is a dangerous one! The more hours people spend sitting at work, driving, lying on the couch watching TV, or engaged in other leisurely pursuits, the greater their odds of dying early from all causes, including heart disease and cancer.
The simple solution is more movement!
This is usually understood as more exercise, but in most cases, more vigorous exercise is not the entire answer. Being sedentary is not measured by lack of exercise, but by the amount of time spent not moving. If you exercise for one hour every day, but spend the rest of the day sitting, you could still be considered sedentary. Even if you do move frequently, but your movements are all similar and repetitive, there are parts of your body that are probably still sedentary. It is both the frequency and the variety that count.
How To Incorporate Movement Into Your Life
Your body wants to move. You may have spent the majority of your life being conditioned to sit, suppressing the urge. It is still there. Follow it. Move when you think of it. Change your position when you think of it. When you feel that need to shift weight, change position, or stretch – listen to that feeling.
Set an alarm to do something every 4 hours. Then every 2 hours. Then every 1 hour, and so on. This is more than simply a practice in movement, but a practice in taking a step back from what you are doing and slowing down. Make stepping away manageable. It may only last 10 seconds and initially can feel like a challenge just to step away! As you become more accustomed, so will moving more often.
Add variety to your movements and to your stillness. Learn new ways to sit, stand, and to work. When sitting, sit differently. You could cross your legs, or sit on the ground. When standing, stand differently. Stand on one foot! Add squatting to your sedentary options and reclaim it as a resting position. Cater your movements to you. Think about how you normally move throughout the day, then practice doing the opposite of that. Move outside your normal ranges of motion, and change up how you load your body.
Think about what positions you spend your day in. For many, it is going to be a combination of sitting and standing with a rounded forward posture (driving, using computers, smart phone usage, eating, reading and the like). In addition, arms are often kept between hip and shoulder height (cooking, working at a desk). Adding movement variety means initially trying positions opposite of what you would normally do, followed by outside of our typical range of motion, and finally adding variety in the environments you interact with and how you load your body.
One clear solution is to get back to basics and reference the movement patterns of your hunter-gatherer ancestors. They were naturally lean and strong, based on the daily activities they performed.
Simple Strategies To Move More Without Exercising
Sit up straight – even while driving.
Car seats are absolutely awful for posture. They make it nearly impossible for you to sit up straight with your head directly above your shoulders, instead forcing you to jut your head forward.
To compensate, allow a few inches between your back and the seat, and place something there to keep you from sinking into the bucket-shaped seat. Standing or sitting up straight is a passive way of working your core muscles. Their job is to keep you upright, and if you are continuously slumped over, they’re not activating.
Stand to use your computer.
There is no need for an expensive treadmill desk or standing desk. Standing to do computer work is better than always sitting. Generally, when you stand, you are not still. You may wiggle, shift, bend and take more breaks. You can always sit back down when you need to.
Walk. Then walk some more.
Instead of meeting a friend for lunch or coffee, meet for a walk. Hold walking business meetings and go on hiking dates
The next time you are in a parking lot, take note how many people park far away from the door intentionally. Many drive around the lot waiting for a closer space. Park a little further away and walk.
Take the stairs.
This is a no-brainer.
Sit on the floor.
Instead of the couch, sit on the floor to play, work or relax. When you sit on the floor you do not simply sit. You stretch, wiggle around, move from side to side.
If you have trouble sitting on the floor, try placing a pillow under your behind. Make sure you are not tucking your pelvis under, but rather sticking your butt out a little. The point is to lengthen your tight hamstrings. Children do this naturally and easily, and the reason adults struggle is because they have stopped moving.
Play a little.
Make activities fun as well as challenging. Use your imagination to create scenarios that will make movements and playing more interesting.
Instead of sitting on a bench watching the kids play, play yourself! Hang from the monkey bars, climb up the rock wall (and over the top to the other side), or at the very least walk around. This way both the children and the adults get to move, jump, twist and turn using the body in ways modern lifestyle habits often prohibit.
Find your rhythm.
Turn the kitchen into a dance floor! Whether you are meal prepping, doing the dishes, or cooking dinner – make it a party! Turn on some music and dance. Not only can this work up a sweat quickly, but it is bound to make you and those doing it with you smile.
No time to meal prep or cook? Order your carefully sourced, chef prepared, always delicious Paleo meals and dance while you heat them up – no apron required!
Stretch a lot.
Stretching is a fabulous way to get your blood flowing and your circulation moving. In addition, it helps keep your spine healthy. A stretching routine takes minimal effort — a few simple movements are all you need.
Get outside every day.
Going outside is good for your health.
The fresh air, grass, trees, and colours in your natural environment have a profound impact on mental health and physical well-being. Getting outside on a daily basis results higher levels of serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood along with higher levels of endorphins responsible for that post-exercise rush that occurs after exercise.
Being outside is also associated with higher levels of vitamin D which has significant health benefits, including boosting the immune system, improving heart health, improving calcium absorption and bone health, and preventing cancer.
Going outside also generally implies you will be standing at the very least, or walking around, moving your limbs, kicking up dirt, lifting kids up onto the trampoline, or pushing babies on the swings. Once you are outside, go for a short walk.
Build small movements into daily routine.
Try incorporating a few push-ups every time you go to the bathroom (even if they are countertop or wall push-ups). You could hold a plank while heating up your Pete’s Paleo meals. Do a calf stretch while you talk on the phone. Sit on the floor and stretch your hamstrings while you watch TV. Work on creating small incremental movements and exertions that are anchored by another activity you often do.
Integrate movement into your life
Avoid segregating or isolating movement from your day-to-day life. Instead, make physical activity something you do all the time by avoiding sedentary options. This does not mean you have to dedicate ALL your time to movement. Begin to explore and expand the possibilities that you have to move.
Take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator. Sprint for the bus. Walk to the local grocery store and carry several bags of shopping back. Stand up when talking on the phone. Take planned movement breaks to get you out of your chair.
A true Paleo lifestyle encompasses so much more than simply food. Stress management, sleep, and movement are also integral pieces to living your best life. Finding ways to incorporate more movement throughout the day can really make a big difference in the long run.
Michal Ofer is a wellness and digestion expert and nutrition coach. She is focused on assisting clients to take control of their health and happiness through the sustainable food and lifestyle choices that best support them. Through strengthening the body from the inside out, her clients are able to reach new heights of health, happiness and wellness. Michal obtained her Professional Training and Certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She has a further studied through the University of Colorado (Boulder) and Stanford University and is a Certified 21 Day Sugar Detox Coach. Michal has also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences and a Master Life Coach Certification. For further information and to connect with Michal visit her website at www.michalofer.com