Spring out of what? Sedentarism is a new word health care professionals have borrowed from cultural anthropology that means not moving. Originally, it meant the difference between populations that moved, e.g. nomadic tribes, with those that were not mobile, e.g. farmers. We already know that sedentary means not moving enough. Sedentarism specifically refers to people not using enough of their daily energy for movement and having health concerns due to that lack of movement. One study indicated that if we use 10% or less of our daily energy, devoted to moderate or high intensity movement, we are sedentary.
Several things happened last week that got me thinking about this topic.
First, it is spring. Spring is a time for new life, blossoms bursting, ferns uncurling, leaves exploding. Spring is a time many of us want to air out our stuffy houses and engage in spring-cleaning. Spring is Easter, colorful daffodils, tulips, and longer days. Spring training is another word for baseball. Finally sigh… we are experiencing happy, colorful, bright, warm spring after a brutally hard winter!
Second, I talked with a good friend and he described how he was having trouble exercising. He is sedentary. He struggles with weight. He is a smart, kind, and an overall terrific person, yet cannot get himself motivated to get on a schedule for exercise.
Third, I read an article by Jane Brody, esteemed health writer for the New York Times. In her article, she stated, “Barely 20% of adults get the recommended of 30 minutes a day of physical activity, and fewer than half of adults get enough activity to achieve any meaningful health benefits.” Wow, we are a sedentary population! No wonder we have so much chronic disease! Find more of that conversation here.
What can we do to spring out of sedentarism?
What follows are ten things things to stop us from being so sedentary.
- Like the shoe company, we can just do it. Grit our teeth and do it. Well, if we could we would. If you can, do it. Do not think about it, do it.
- Re-frame your reason for wanting to exercise. It is bathing suit season soon; does that motivate you? What about wanting to play with youngsters, or reversing a chronic disease? Are you in need of evidence based, exercise induced stress relief? (See my session 8 and 9 for more information on that!) Exercise does many things for our hearts, mind, body, and soul. Maybe you need to re-think your exercise needs in a more meaningful way to spring out of sedentarism.
- Like children, we all like our toys. Do you need a new toy? Would a new pair of shoes or a wearable exercise device to keep track of your progress act as motivator?
- Technology can be fun and exercise apps can be a lot of fun! I was obsessed with Charity Miles for a while. Their tagline is Move with Purpose. Earn Money For Charity. There are thousands of exercise trackers, games, and lessons, specifically for men, or women, kids, and overweight folks. Play with these apps and spring out of sedentarism!
- Ask a friend to join you for walks, runs, classes with regularly or spontaneously.
- Ask a friend to hold you accountable. Text each other the number of steps you walk each day. Make it a game and the winner each week gets a goofy prize.
- Organize your work out gear the night before. Leave it by the door ready to go. If you commute by car, leave gear in your car.
- Join a group and play a team sport. Whether swimming at night with a team, road racing, jogging, soccer, basketball, or tennis. Getting sedentarism out of your life can be extremely social and a lot of fun!
- Finally, since we all sit at our screens so much every day, one of the reasons we are so sedentary, get up every hour or so. Stretch, walk around, talk on the phone pacing around your space. Stand up and stand on tippy toes ten times. Get out of that chair right now.
- Switch it up. If you have been doing well, then got bored, change your routine. No one says you have to do the same work out for the rest of your life. Right now, I am in the middle of changing up my 45 minutes 3 times a week elliptical winter routine for a more interesting, high intensity interval (HIIT) spring training.
Bottom line: movement is part of our DNA. We need to move. Our ancestors moved all day long. We sit around, are sedentary, looking at screens and sitting in wheeled vehicles. Get smart. You can do this! Think: How can I spring out of sedentarism?
Photo: Thank you Bruno Nascimento @Unsplash