When you read this title, what did you think the one thing was? Common culprits - eat more vegetables, sleep more, manage your stress and drink more water. ALL of these do contribute to having health if you are seeking it.
However, the number one thing you can do to improve your health? MOVE YOUR BODY.
This doesn't mean you need to suddenly join a gym, sign up for a 30 day challenge or even buy new shoes. Moving your body can have many meanings and interpretations. Go with this one from now on - reducing sitting time (if possible) and using your arms, legs, heart, lungs and brain in order to increase blood flow in your body. Think how much of a wide range of movement fits this definition.
Here are a few examples:
Dance party in the kitchen before or after dinner - it can even be slow dancing with your partner!
10 minute walk or stroll
Upper body movement - arm dancing, arm circles or even just waving your arms from side to side (the move, flossing, counts also!)
5K run, walk or stroll - some people find training for something is motivating
30 minute bike ride
All too often, we get caught up in moving our bodies as needing to be devoted, set aside time for exercise. All too often, we think that exercise needs to be dedicated gym time or copious amounts of sweating. Research shows that any movement is better than not moving. Does this mean you will a gym body by adding in a few walks a week? Not likely. It does mean that you may be keeping your brain sharp, your blood sugar levels supported and your heart pumping!
Research shows that increasing your movement can support stress management and mental health, strengthen your bones and muscles and may lower your risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
I know why I should move, but I can't get started
While all of these are excellent - you should also find out your own personal why for moving your body. Finding your motivation for moving your body may help you make it more of a habit and support your health in the long run. Does walking every night allow you and your partner to spend more quality time together? Do you notice that when you have a dance party in the kitchen every night, you sleep better? Maybe your self-confidence is higher when you realize your body is strong and powerful because you pushed yourself on the bike this weekend.
Thinking about moving your body from this mindset and what it does that is beneficial for you may help your commitment to increasing movement. If this doesn't get you started, explore different ways to move your body that is not traditional. Perhaps you couldn't get started because nothing sounds good or you have negative memories of traditional style workouts/gym routines.
Are sweaty, heart-pumping workouts better?
They can have benefits for some people. Heart pumping workouts do exactly what the term implies - they get your heart beating faster which has heart health benefits. It also has benefits for improving your circulation and lowering your risk for other heart diseases.
Harder workouts may also be more stressful on the body and for some people, this is not a beneficial thing. Ultimately, you need to find what you enjoy and what drives you. If the sweaty, heart pumping workout is your jam, don't give it up!
So what should I do?
Start wherever you are. Don't look at your neighbor or your co-worker. Your body is your own and starting to move it will help keep you sharper, happier and potentially living a longer life.
If you are already moving your body regularly, good for you! Perhaps considering a well-rounded movement routine is your best bet. Are you incorporating strength, flexibility and balance?
Use the FITTE principle when increasing your activity.
F - Frequency
I - Intensity
T - Time
T - Type
E - Enjoyment (this one is my favorite! See the part about getting started above. Enjoyment is crucial to this.)
If you are just starting to move your body, limit your movement time to about only 10 to 15 minutes per day. Then increase your exercise time gradually. Using the FITTE principle, increase only one of the pieces by about 10% per week. Frequency and time are great places to start.
Want to talk more about this? Give me a call! I take telehealth (video) and in-person appointments.