Try More Movement Any Way You Can
By Beth Jennings, PT, MPT
October is National Physical Therapy Month, and it’s a great time to discuss how to get more movement in your life and how physical therapists (PTs) can help.
Notice we didn’t say exercise. We’d love it if you exercised regularly, but today we’re talking about just MOVING more.
A sedentary lifestyle is where much of the day is spent sitting, reclining, or even lying down.
Do you have a desk job?
Are you limited due to arthritis or other physical conditions?
Are most of your leisure activities sedentary?
You’re not alone. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 adults and 80% of adolescents do not engage in sufficient physical activity.
You probably know that too much sitting is not good for your health, so take inventory of your daily activity level and consider ways to move more.
What might that look like for you?
Health Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle
The more you spend sitting or lying down, the greater your risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers (colon, endometrium, breast, ovarian, and lung), and death from all sources, including cardiovascular disease.
Not everyone wants to put on shiny pants and running shoes and go for a 5-miler, but getting even a little more activity will have its benefits.
The Benefits of More Movement
- Release of endorphins for stress relief and anxiety reduction
- Strengthen the connection we have with our body
- Improvement in sleep
- Lubrication and blood flow to achy joints
- Build strength and endurance
The more moderate to vigorous activity you get, the more the benefits grow, but don’t underestimate the power of just sitting less.
If you are curious about how much exercise it takes for the maximum health benefits, read The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
You Have Good Reasons
In the clinic, we hear a wide range of barriers to getting regular activity, like:
- I already deal with pain, and exercise will make it worse.
- But I have ___________. (Fill in the name of chronic illness.)
- I get dizzy or unsteady and am afraid I will fall.
- I’m so tired already; I can’t imagine exercising.
- I don’t know what to do.
- I’m too old/too out of shape.
- I don’t have time.
- I don’t like to exercise.
- I love sitting. Sitting is the best.
- I’m embarrassed to exercise.
- I’ve tried, but I just don’t stay motivated.
- I don’t have the right clothes/shoes/equipment.
It’s ok. No sports drinks, sweatbands, or jazzy music is required for our recommendations (unless that’s your thing).
Physical Therapy Can Help
The PTs at FYZICAL - Forest Grove can help you incorporate more activity into your life, particularly if a physical condition is holding you back.
Have pain? We know how to reduce or manage it.
Limited mobility? Yep, that’s our bread and butter.
Fear of falling? We are balance experts and can improve that.
We’re the experts in designing an activity program that works for your particular health conditions. Check out this article in English or Spanish from the American Physical Therapy Association for additional information on the benefits of physical therapy.
Ideas For Adding More Activity in Your Day
Activity choices can differ depending on your individual needs, abilities, and health status, but consider some of the following ideas:
- Walk around for 5 minutes for every hour of sitting.
- Create a routine of moving all major joints while the coffee is brewing.
- Walk during phone calls or phone meetings.
- Fix that leaky faucet, the hole in the drywall, and the creaky door.
- Garden, mow the lawn, build a shed, chop and stack wood.
- Park farther from the entrance. Take the stairs.
- Bike, walk, or take the bus instead of driving.
- Dance to your favorite music.
- Take a class, preferably one that involves some movement (woodworking, birding, dancing, flyfishing).
What Can You Do?
Brainstorm ideas with a partner and see what creative ideas you come up with. We would love to hear about those in the comments below.
Do you know someone who would benefit from this post? Use the links at the top of this post to share.
Beth Jennings, PT, MPT is a freelance writer, a physical therapist, and a wellness coach.
Disclaimer This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Saint-Maurice PF, Coughlan D, Kelly SP, Keadle SK, Cook MB, Carlson SA, Fulton JE, Matthews CE. Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity Across the Adult Life Course With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Mar 1;2(3):e190355. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0355. PMID: 30848809; PMCID: PMC6484624.
World Health Organization Fact Sheets. Physical Activity. 5 October 2022. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity