How much exercise should you be doing? What kinds of training are best for you? How can you fit an effective training regimen into your already busy schedule? Okay maybe the last one really doesn’t apply with our current situation. Maybe you just don’t want to see my face on Zoom so much. These are all questions you’ve probably wondered about before (we all have), and they’re definitely worth exploring. The fitness industry tends to overemphasize formal exercise while neglecting informal movement for the other 15 hours a day (assuming you do an hour of exercise a day, which is a lot!).
Studies show that non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) or non-exercise physical activity (NEPA) is far more important for overall health and longevity. That doesn’t mean formal exercise isn’t important—it is! But we have so many more opportunities for informal movement throughout the day that it can have a much greater impact on our health and wellbeing. Lots of people will just give the advice to “walk more” or “take the stairs” but there are so many more fun and unique ways to achieve NEAT and get more daily movement practice. Here are some ideas.
Sit on the floor while doing things.
Most of us spend a majority of our time sitting on a chair, couch, in the car, or on other raised surfaces. But how often do you sit on the floor? Probably not too often. Try changing things up a bit. Sit on the floor while working on your computer or folding laundry. Frequently change your position trying different positions that work on some of your mobility limits. Try reaching forward or to the side to get a good stretch as you do whatever you’re doing.
Stand on one leg while putting on your socks.
Instead of sitting on your bed or a chair to put on your socks, take this daily opportunity to get in some balance training. Stand on one leg as you put a sock on the opposite foot, then switch sides. You’ll probably find that one side is harder than the other—that’s normal!
Deep squat while playing with children, petting the dog or working in the yard.
You can be working on this virtually doing anything, but it’s way more fun interacting with kids or animals. Just saying. Remember you don’t need to stay on the static squat for ever as it’s a great transitional movement between positions.
Play around on the floor
I know how much everyone enjoys bear crawls, but moving around on the floor expresses a ton of different mobility patterns and places different stresses through your joints that are really healthy. You can get creative on how you get up and down to the floor as well. Play games with kids and animals. They love it and so will you.
Pick things up with your toes
Work on your strength and control in your toes and feet by putting them to use! If you see something on the ground, try to grasp it with your toes and lift your foot off the ground, bringing it up to your hand, rather than bending down to pick it up.
As you get more comfortable with this, you can make it more challenging by picking up different types of objects, or lifting your leg further.
Use some daily activities as an excuse to move in different ways. Try squatting down and turning as you do your daily chores. Maybe kneel and twist as you put away your laundry. See how long you can stand on one leg while you wash the dishes.
Focus on each motion and on making it smooth. Practice mindfully instead of just going through the motions mindlessly. Most of all don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun with it. It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself.