As we talk about the Mechanical Quadrant of Well-being, movement is a key part. Our bodies are designed to move, they are designed to be active. Researchers are now saying that “sitting is the new smoking” because sitting all day causes as much damage to our bodies as smoking. Movement is key to our health and wellness.
How much do you move in a day? Many of us spend the majority of our work day in front of a computer, and we don’t get in a lot of movement. To help us make a change, we talked to some experts for tips on getting movement into our day.
Scott Heffner is a personal trainer and muscle activation specialist in Kansas City. He talks about the perspective that people often have when they are trying to start an exercise program:
“A lot of times people are getting into personal training, getting into exercise, or trying to work out, eat right, whatever it is. They tend to take an ‘all or nothing’ approach. And it’s go time, or it’s forget it, I’m not doing it. And so, I think people need to take a step back, and look at more baby steps.”
What Scott suggests is a change in perspective. In his work with clients, he meets people where they are when they first come in, and he designs an exercise routine that works for their bodies. One of the challenges to starting exercise is that when we get the mentality that we have to do it all or do nothing, we often do nothing.
The truth is you did not gain weight all at once; you gained it one doughnut at a time. Losing the weight happens the same way, one small change at a time. When you’re moving toward a healthier way of living, making one small change a day makes a big difference over time. When that healthier way of living is adding movement to your day, small changes can lead to big shifts.
With our shift in perspective, you do not have to go spend three hours in the gym to get movement into your day. You can park in the farthest parking spot and walk into work. You can take the stairs instead of the elevator. You can walk down the driveway to the mailbox after you get home, instead of stopping and reaching out of the car window for the mail. As you conquer these added movements, you’ll feel empowered and inspired to add more.
As Scott says, when we challenge our bodies appropriately, it empowers us with inner drive and inner motivation to say “I’m going to put myself first and make myself a priority.”
Dr. Daphne Bascom is the Vice President of Community Integrated Health at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. At the Y, they’ve created a community, and, like Scott Heffner, they coach people as they start an exercise routine.
Dr. Bascom says, “We try and coach people through the barriers by setting small SMART goals.”
For all of us, there are some barriers to adding movement into our day, but small SMART goals can help us be successful.
SMART is an acronym to help us remember five traits that our goals should have:
What SMART tells us is that we want goals we can actually meet and measure in a specific amount of time, and then we can move on to our next goal.
Todd Durkin explains that a goal like “I want to move more” is not a good goal, because it is not specific. We need to make specific and measurable goals like “I will walk for 10 minutes three days a week.” That goal tells us exactly what we need to do to be successful.
So when you are first starting out, a small SMART goal could be to walk around the block in 20 minutes. It is specific about what you are going to do, walk around the block. The 20 minute time makes it measurable. It is attainable and realizable. Adding a reasonable time frame to the goal makes it time-bound. If we add two weeks as the time frame, we have a clear SMART goal that says, “In two weeks, I will be able to walk around the block in 20 minutes.” And now we can work on walking more and walking faster for the next two weeks until we meet our goal.
One suggestion is to use your fitness tracker to set a goal. You could set it by the number of steps, by active minutes, or by calories burned.
To remind yourself of your goals, write them somewhere you will see them often, like on your bathroom mirror.
Dr. Bascom says, “What’s good for the body is good for the mind, brain, and soul. So exercise is a great way to help rejuvenate your mind, your body, and to help that psycho-spiritual energy. It’s not just working out, it really is revitalizing your whole body.”
Moving our bodies promotes well-being. Start with small changes to your daily routine that allow you to get more movement, and those small changes will empower you and lead to big shifts.