One of the key aspects of living a vibrant, healthy life is movement. Humans were made to move. It is so important that Katy Bowman, a biomechanist and author of “Move Your DNA,” “Movement Matters,” and “Don’t Just Sit There” (among others), considers movement as a nutrient necessary for life and good health. I am right alongside Katy Bowman on this.
However, I’ve always found it challenging to have a regular exercise practice. Over the years, I’ve tried participating in group exercise classes like Zumba, various dance classes, Gyrytonics, Pilates, cycling, barre, yoga, kickboxing—I can’t even remember some of them anymore! I’ve enrolled in gyms and lifted weights, tried running, swimming, badminton, tennis, high impact, low impact, you-name-it-impact, high-energy workout classes, relaxing movement classes…but I could never stick to any of these long term.
Yoga did resonate with me a lot but still, if I did it regularly for more than 3 or 4 weeks, I found myself not engaged anymore. This started to stress me out, mostly because I was expecting much more of myself when it comes to sticking to an exercise routine. Until one day, I said, “Oh, screw it! I’ll just move the way I feel like moving for the day!”
From then on, I decided to simply listen to my body, to myself, to hear how my body would like to move for that particular day. This felt so freeing and I actually enjoyed and looked forward to whatever movement activity my body was in the mood for. I found that I was able to incorporate movement activities into my daily life such as cycling to and from work, walking to the metro, walking home lifting heavy groceries, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
I’d purposely make it difficult for me to go somewhere (such as not using a ride hailing app like Uber) so that I’d have to walk or bike there or take public transportation (which entails a lot of walking). I did not download delivery apps so that I would go out and buy stuff I need. (In Beijing, there are numerous delivery services for everything—and I mean everything!—that you literally don’t have to get up out of your chair to buy anything.) I would stand and walk around our office as much as I can and in between drop down in a plank, do pushups or a few squats, lunges, or triceps dips.
I’d go to the park and join a dance class, a yoga class, or a Wujiquan class on most weekends; or I’d join some friends in playing games like badminton or throwing a frisbee around. When I have time at home, I engage in yoga, free dancing, TaoYoga, or Wujiquan (a Taoist internal martial art). As much as possible, I do movement activities outdoors in nature so that I can also get the benefits of being connected with nature. We’ll talk about that in another blog post.
When I wrote this down and read it, it looked to me like I was doing a whole lot of movement. In actuality, it doesn’t feel like it since it’s weaved within my day. Plus, I don’t feel stressed anymore about this aspect of my life. I do not, in any way, look super fit; but for my age (50), I’ve pleasantly discovered that I’m much stronger than friends and colleagues a decade or two younger than I who do not engage in daily movement.
I realize that this strategy may not work for everyone but I think it can fit nicely with someone who thrives on varying his or her routine.
So, give it a go if you think you might like it.
How about you? What are ways that you incorporate movement or exercise in your life? What worked and what did not work for you? Comment below and share your thoughts. Let’s learn from each other!