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21 Days of Self-Care: Day 4 - Movement Matters

So, how long have you been sitting there at the computer? Seriously, that long? Time to get up and move.

What to even say here? Everyone should know by now that you need to move. All the cliches and sayings are out there: sitting is the new smoking; move it or lose it; motion is lotion – keep those joints from getting cranky. Maybe you’ve heard – Just Do It?

All I say to most of my clients is: anything you do is better than doing nothing. I’m not expecting you to jump up and run a marathon. But I do want you to get up and move: 3 minutes for every 30 minutes you’ve been sitting. If you have any kind of fitness tracker, it’s easy to do. When it tells you to move, do it! Get up and do squats and knee lifts behind you chair. Take a few laps up and down the stairs. Dance around your living room. The possibilities are endless!

Exercise strongly affects your hunger hormones and metabolic regulation. Dr. Len Kravitz is an educator and researcher at the University of New Mexico, and many of his studies involve metabolic training. His students have put together a website, Don’t Sit – Get Fit, that contains all kinds of tips for adding movement to your day. Plus, he’s just a fun and colorful guy (as you’ll see on his website) who loves what he does and loves sharing his knowledge. Check it out here.

If you are just starting out, adding any kind of movement is going to be beneficial for you. But you will want to move toward adding some “purposeful exercise” to your days. How much to do?

You will want to start by adding some resistance exercise to your routine, to build some lean muscle. So lift some dumbbells, use resistance tubing, your own body weight, milk jugs, soup cans, cinder blocks...pick up something heavy, put it down, repeat. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Squat and lunge, push and pull, and you’ve got it covered.

Then when you’re ready, you might want to add some interval training – short bursts of intense activity, followed by a recovery period. The duration of the entire workout is short, too: probably 10-20 minutes, start to finish. Note: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is very popular right now (think CrossFit) but it should not be your only workout. Once a week is plenty. Remember that our goal here is self-care and targeted recovery. Any kind of exercise, even though it’s good for you, adds stress to your body. If you are already stressed by other things in your life, and all you do is HIIT training, your body is going to penalize you for “piling on”.

So, how to balance your exercise time? Here’s what Precision Nutrition recommends: If you have 0 to 5 hours a week to dedicate to purposeful exercise, it breaks down to 3 hrs. of resistance training; 30 minutes of interval training; 1 hr active recovery, and the rest of the time “fun stuff”.

But here’s the thing: even as the number of hours of exercise per week increases, the biggest gains are in active recovery and “fun stuff”. Resistance training hours remain static at 3, and interval training only goes up to 45 minutes, even if you are devoting 15 hours a week to exercise. That’s a lot of fun stuff!

So, time to get up and move!

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