If you’re mostly sedentary, know that you’re not alone. Worldwide, rates of physical inactivity are skyrocketing, despite the rise of wellness and fitness trends. Need to get more movement in your day? Welcome to the club.
Globally, we’re moving less
A new policy toolkit, published by The Global Wellness Institute, shows that around the world, physical inactivity is on the rise. Per the press release, “The GWI’s new Wellness Policy Research Series was born out of a profound problem: The hyper-commercial wellness and fitness market cannot solve our skyrocketing health crises or bring exercise to all.” GWI research finds that only about one-third of the world’s population participates in recreational/leisure physical activities on a regular basis. The reason? Lack of time is cited, along with access and money. In a stunning finding, the GWI found that only 3-4% of the world’s population taps into the commercial fitness industry.
Getting more movement in your day is essential
But if your gym is too far away or you’re hard-up to pay for boutique gyms, there are other clever ways to get more movement in your day. Adding more movement is essential. Per the GWI, “Physical inactivity is now the fourth leading cause of death and the pandemic only increased our sedentary behaviour. The WHO estimates that physical inactivity will cause 500 million new cases of preventable diseases, and $300 billion in treatment costs, from 2020-2030, if things do not change.” Plus, the University of South Australia researchers found that exercise is 1.5 times better at helping depression than meditation and therapy. Adding more movement is also a clever way of losing weight, since the more you move, the more calories you’d burn.
In SA, we’re blessed with parks, beaches and tons of natural resources begging us to get outside and enjoy them. But you don’t always need to go far to move more. We’ve picked the brains of trainer Kirsten Johnson, who regularly advocates for adding more movement, for tips.
Go for walks
It’s age-old advice that stands the test of time. You just gotta walk more. “Going for a 20-minute walk first thing in the morning can start your day off right while avoiding all hurdles,” says Johnson. You don’t even need a sports bra. “Keep your pj’s on, pop on shoes and a hoodie and get out the door,” she adds.
Park further away
Most of us are prone to parking as close to the entrance as possible, but here’s an ace way to get more steps in. “Simply parking further from the shop you’re heading into will make you walk a few extra hundred steps every time you do it,” says Johnson.
Time your movement
Per the University of Michigan, you should move for three minutes every 30 to 60 minutes. That means getting up and walking around, grabbing a coffee, or anything that keeps you going for three minutes. Plus, those three minutes help boost your energy levels, so you’re better at the next task. Set up a timer on your phone or computer if you’re struggling.
Leverage waiting time
“There are tons of times during the day we spend waiting. While the kettle boils, food in the microwave, brushing teeth – use the time to do something small, it all adds up,” says Johnson. Instead of checking your phone, Johnson suggests slow squats, calf raises and arm circles. “All of this is movement, which might seem small, but they add up!” she says.
Be less lazy
“My mom has always been the person who will get up and fetch things for others, often upstairs or in another room,” says Johnson. “When I asked her about it she said it’s about serving others and in return you serve yourself with more movement. Truly inspiring, and I carry this mentality throughout my day. No movement is gone unrecognised by your body.”
When you’re standing, you’re more likely to move your body. Plus, working while standing improves executive function, or the ability to break down tasks, per the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Show up for yourself
Johnson’s workout app, FBK, costs just R85 and uses only your own body weight. Carve out time in your day to move, she says. “Plan movement into your routine as a non-negotiable. This doesn’t mean one hour in the gym. Eliminate hurdles; workout at home,” Johnson says.
Pick movement dates
“I think this idea has become more popular over the last few years but it’s worth mentioning. Meeting a friend over a cup of coffee does not have to be a static venture,” says Johnson. “Meet for a walk with coffee, catch up on each other’s lives and get your movement in. Win-win.”