Movement matters. Our bodies are designed to move and move often. My days are now shaped by movement. I start with an early walk to the beach with Oliver, which may include some running, yoga or a swim. Our weekends are also defined by movement and might include paddle boarding, hiking, boxing, riding, snowboarding, moto-cross or surfing – or often a combination of these.
As a family, we love being outdoors, and movement is the catalyst that brings us together.
At work, over 50% of Australians report sitting most of, or all of their working day. And Australian’s, on average spend four hours a day doing ‘sedentary leisure activities’ like watching TV or looking at social media. For many people, our modern lifestyles are limiting the amount and type of movement we do. Inactivity and lack of physical exercise is playing a significant role in our incidence of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, anxiety and depression.
When you think of movement, it’s important to include all movement and not just the classic three gym sessions a week. Movement includes walking to the beach, soccer with the kids, gardening, surfing, washing the car, dancing around the house, cleaning or tai-chi. Any time you’re moving your body, even for a few minutes at a time, you’re doing your body, and your mind a favour. Cleaning windows or playing with the dog may not seem like a grand exercise plan, but in truth, they are providing major health benefits.
Why movement matters
Movement has the capacity to decrease inflammation in the brain, improve immune function, regulate blood sugar, destroy cancer cells, improve cardiovascular function, enhance physical fitness, enable social connections and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
When you move, Dr Kellie McGonigal states that powerful hormones called myokine’s act like anti-anxiety medication. They can increase motivation, enhance learning and memory, improve your challenge response and lift overall confidence. Longer term, myokines greatly increase resilience and build hope. Hence their nickname, “Hope molecules.”
As little as 20mins of daily exercise has a large and significant antidepressant effect among people with major depressive disorders. Conversely, People who exercise regularly, then become sedentary for three days become more anxious, irritable, tired and hostile. After one week they experience sever mood disturbances and insomnia. After two weeks, 88% of participants report feeling depressed. Movement and mood are inextricably linked.
Who do you want to be?
The way we move our bodies builds our self-identity and helps to shape how we see ourselves. When we run, we tell ourselves we are determined and powerful. Doing yoga, we feel flexible and graceful. When we box, we become strong and brave and when we surf we experience freedom and peace. The meaning we ascribe to the way we move shapes who we become and how we behave. What movement are you doing regularly and how is it shaping your self-perception?
Green exercise is even better.
Green exercise is when physical activity occurs in a natural setting, like a beach, river or forest. Within the first five minutes of green exercise people report major shifts in mood and outlook, more distance from personal worries, and more connection to the natural environment. Green exercisers experienced three times the improvements in mental health than those that exercised indoors. They found a sense of belonging, moments of wonder and awe and more tranquillity, harmony and acceptance than exercising in an indoor environment.
Individuals who feel a stronger connection to nature report greater life satisfaction, vitality, purpose and happiness. People are happier in natural environments. Yet the typical Australian spends over 90% of their time indoors, often developing undiagnosed Nature Deficit Disorder.
The conclusion; Movement matters. So, move – in any way, at any time, with anyone. The more you move, the better you’ll feel. The stronger you’ll become in both mind and body and the more you’ll connect with what matters most. If you’re wanting to improve your life in any way, shape or form, it’s undeniable that movement is key.