The Everyday Athlete’s Handbook: 4 steps to prevent pain and injury while staying strong, healthy, and engaged in the activities you love every day and in every stage of life.
Last week, we covered Part 2. - Nutrition. This week, we'll be exploring how movement plays a role as one of the four pillars for maintaining a healthful life.
Movement is Medicine. Read that again, because there isn’t a single body system or function that isn’t improved by movement. The body was designed to move and, sadly, many of us don’t spend enough time moving. For reference, the World Health Organization defines a “sedentary lifestyle” as anyone who regularly spends more than 6 hours a day sitting. Unfortunately, chances are that you fall into this category.
As specialists in human movement, this is where physical therapists spend most of our day -working with patients to optimize their movement. As important as it is to keep moving when you already feel pretty good, moving well is the key to injury prevention. Specifically tailoring movement is integral to healing if something does go wrong.
If you want more information on why we need more movement in our lives, check out our blog Is Sitting the New Smoking? If you’re wondering where or how to start, here are some of our favorite tips.
Walk More. Walking is highly underrated. Although we consider this a “non-exercise” movement, walking (especially if it's a brisk pace) can increase heart rate, improve circulation, and promote health in the hips, knees, ankles, and lower back. You will be surprised how much better you will feel when you start getting more walking in regularly. The 10,000 steps-a-day benchmark is a great goal for most people. So, whether you take the stairs instead of the elevator, pop out for a quick walk at lunch, take the dogs a bit farther than usual, or walk your kids to school in the morning, lace up some supportive shoes and get going!
Use A Standing Desk. Although spending too much time in any position can cause muscle fatigue and achiness, using a standing desk actually leads to more overall movement during the day because there is less of a barrier to changing position. Standing has also been shown to increase attention, improve posture, and increase calorie usage. Plus, the more standing you do at work, the less likely you will be to hit that 6 hour sitting mark mentioned above. Due to the correlation between standing and decreased injury, many employers will even cover the cost of this type of ergonomic adjustment.
Get Strong. The stronger you are, the more resilient your body is and the better it will respond to whatever life throws at you. Everything from playing with your kids/grandkids, to working in the yard, to doing housework will seem much easier, and be much less likely to result in an injury. Regardless of what you usually do for exercise, try to include 1-2 days of resistance training and hit all the major muscle groups each day. (We are more than happy to help you figure out how and where to start if you aren’t sure!)
Move Well and Often. Try to move your body every day in a way that is comfortable and enjoyable to you. Maybe that is a hike, or a yoga class, or a swim. It doesn’t have to be the same thing every day; using a variety of different movement patterns and exposing your body to new disciplines is best for your body. Just make sure to do something every day to keep your body (and yourself) happy.
Part 4 coming next Thursday! Check out the other pillars for living a healthful life!