Pre-kids I used to go on more long walks (here I am on the 7th hill of the Seven Sisters, on discovering that there are WAY more than 7 hills to hike up and down), but moved less during the day… Now, can I find a way to do both?
At the beginning of this month, I was listening to the Slow Home Podcast about why we need to move more. It featured Katy Bowman, and her company, Nutritious Movement.
Guys, unsurprisingly I have no medical background whatsoever, so I can’t judge the scientific merits of what she was talking about. But every year, people say that getting fit is simple: Eat less, make yourself move more. She just takes ‘move more’ to the extreme.
Her premise is something I don’t think anyone can deny: we now live a ridiculously sedentary lifestyle. Most people sit at a desk all day at work, then go home in their cars (or fight to sit down on the train or tube, in my case), then sit down to dinner, either at a table or on the sofa, where they’ll stay seated for the rest of the evening. Then they’ll lie down in bed and go to sleep. ‘Exercise’ takes the form of an exercise class.
Her idea is that we should introduce movement into our lives wherever possible. It shouldn’t just be confined to a weekly yoga class (ahem). Well-aligned movement should be weaved into every part of our day. Movement should be thought of like nutrients. Just as we need different nutrients, we also need different movements for a healthy body.
On the podcast, she talked about her home. They’ve replaced all of their tables with ones low to the ground, got rid of their sofa, sleep on futons on the bed, etc. She also believe we should aim to connect to the ground whenever possible, wearing minimal footwear or going barefoot. She encourages her children to be outside as often as possible, and they eat breakfast outside most days. If it’s cold, they bundle up. Or move around to warm up. She’s replaced the wood flooring in her hallway with river pebbles to bring the outdoors in. Her children go to a nature school, where they’re outside for almost the entire day.
I LOVE this approach to live so much BUT I’m not sure I’d want to replicate it. London is too cold and wet to be barefoot for most of the year. But there is definitely a lot I’ve taken from falling down into a Katy Bowman rabbit hole!
She clearly does not advocate that everyone take up exactly the same approach as she does. But what she advocates is that people should just move more. Exercise shouldn’t be something that we’re bound to for an hour a week at the gym or yoga class (hello!). It should be something that forms part of our every day.
I work a 9-5 job, and I think my husband might kill me if I got rid of our dining table (not because we eat around it every day, but more because it’s the second most expensive thing we own after our house!). But listening to her really struck a chord with me.
I actually consider myself a reasonably active person. I go to yoga most weeks. I’ll pretend to be Mr MacGregor and run after my son shouting ‘Give back my vegetables!’ (don’t ask). I’m also a big fidgeter, so I tend to change positions reasonably often. BUT. I still sit down almost all day! That’s not good!
So, thanks for the inspiration, Katy. Here are 7 ways I’m making myself move more (and which you can adapt to help yourself move more, too!)…
1. Add more walking on my way in to work.
Luckily, this is one that I’m doing by default. My new job (which starts next week!) is on the overground (15 minute walk away) instead of the tube (10 minute bus ride away). That means I’ll automatically be doing an extra 30 minutes of walking every day. .
2. Walk the escalator.
I have real trouble standing still on an escalator but I usually only walk down it. Now, I’ve decided to walk up as well as down whenever I’m on an escalator. I can always pull in and rest if I need a break (I’m looking at you, Angel station), but usually it’s not so hard.
3. Get on the floor when I play with my kids.
Theo has developed some very low effort games that involve sea creatures and dinosaurs. I usually just sit on the sofa, holding said animal, going ‘Rarrr’ or asking him if he’s a friendly dinosaur or not. I’m just going to move this on to the floor. That means I am slightly less comfortable, but will, in theory, move around more.
4. Get out into the countryside more.
One of my goals is to go for a walk with Peter at least once a month. The idea is that it will be child-free but of course, month two and we’re already not doing so well with that! But why shouldn’t we go with them? So this month, we’ll going for a walk to a new place with them in tow. It’ll have to be much closer to home and much shorter. But it’s still important and something I think we need to do more often.
5. Go outside at lunchtime.
This one might not be feasible straight away, as I’m about to start a new job and I might not have a lot of time to begin with. (MAKE TIME, my brain says. We’ll see.) However, I think it might actually be doable pretty quickly. I’ve already made plans to meet with a colleague/friend from my old work to meet up at the Tate Modern, which is a 15 minute walk for both of us, for regular coffees, so that’s a good start.
6. I will do more deep squats.
I LOVE this movement when we do it in my yoga class, and I could easily sit this way when I’m already on the floor with the kids. So I’m just going to do them more often. Initially I’m sure they’ll last about a minute, if that, but hopefully I’ll be able to build them up over time.
7. Engage more at the playground.
I’m terrible for just standing still at the playground. I’ve even been known to put Beatrice on the grass and sit down in the buggy. SHAME FACE! No longer! Unless I’m dead tired (which happens often, let’s be real), I’m going to play, too. And climb the climbing frame. And hang from the monkey bars. And generally be the embarrassing mother in the park. I’m cool with that.
What other ways could I add in more movement? I’d love to hear your suggestions or things you do to make yourself move more.
And if you’re looking for loads of great advice and exercise ideas, Katy’s website is full of them.
Want to learn more? This was another great article about why you need to move more.
Get Katy’s book, Movement Matters