“Movement by definition is the act of moving, no matter how slight … movement is a change in the location of an object”
bending * straightening * walking * skipping * rolling * crawling * running * climbing * swimming * dancing * jumping * skating * waving * stirring * trampolining * carrying * driving * scooting * cycling * fiddling * squirming * swaying * tapping * patting * skiing * kicking * pushing * pulling * exercising * digging * packing * stepping * flying * punching * hiking * stretching * cleaning * gardening * lifting * tread milling * swinging * turning * chopping * twisting * kayaking * throwing * catching * tumbling * gymnastics * tag * follow the leader * tennis * martial arts * football * tug of war * yoga * rope jumping * wheelchair sports * frisbee tossing * vacuuming * …
Medical practitioners say that people today sit too much, which can result in diseases, illnesses, and conditions such as obesity, hypertension, back pain, cardiovascular disease, and depression. Moving – any form of exercise – has been shown to improve physical condition, muscle definition, and mental health, such as boosting mood, improving cognition, increasing energy, and general wellbeing. Even standing, instead of sitting, can improve heart health.
Harvard Medical School says that regular aerobic exercise (cycling, gym-work, resistance training, flexibility and balance exercises, etc.) can reduce anxiety by making the brain’s ‘fight or flight system’ less reactive – i.e. when anxious people are exposed to changes that they fear, such as rapid heartbeat, they can develop a tolerance if they exercise. They say that exercise can be as effective as medication and psycho-therapies.
Harvard Medical School says that people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), who cycled moderately on a treadmill for 20 minutes a day, can reduce their symptoms, enhance their motivation to complete tasks, increase their energy, and reduce their feelings of confusion, fatigue, and depression.
Meditative movement – tai chi, yoga, qigong, etc. – can alleviate depressive symptoms, because people are focusing internally on their body sensations, position in space, and rate of breathing as they move.
One of the simplest activities is walking. Frédéric Gros, in his 2015 book A Philosophy of Walking, writes: ‘None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind. When you walk, the world has neither present nor future: nothing but the cycle of mornings and evenings. Always the same thing to do all day: walk. But the walker who marvels while walking (the blue of the rocks in a July evening light, the silvery green of olive leaves at noon, the violet morning hills) has no past, no plans, no experience. He has within him teh eternal child. While walking I am but a simple gaze.’
Exercise can be solitary, as for Frédéric Gros, but a September 2014 study published in Frontiers in Psychology by researchers from the School of Psychology at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom found that when you move in synchrony (in harmony) with someone else, it improves your self-esteem. This works even if you are synching through a video link with an instructor or someone – such as online demonstrations and exercise sessions. Their study involved a pre-recorded video of a 25-year-old female doing arm curls, while participants in other locations either coordinated their movement with the female, or deliberately did not coordinate their movements. The people who coordinated their movement showed higher levels of self-esteem, cooperation, memory, and recall.
The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that some benefits of physical exercise on brain health are immediate, particularly in reducing short-term feelings of anxiety and helping to sleep better.
The American Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee listed the following benefits of regular physical activity in their 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition:
Children and Adolescents
- improved bone health
- improved weight status
- improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
- improved cardio metabolic health
- improved cognition
- reduced risk of depression.
Adults and Older Adults
- lower risk of all-cause mortality
- lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality
- lower risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke)
- lower risk of hypertension
- lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- lower risk of adverse blood lipid profile
- lower risk of cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, oesophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach
- improved cognition
- reduced risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease)
- improved quality of life
- reduced anxiety
- reduced risk of depression
- improved sleep
- slowed or reduced weight gain
- weight loss, particularly when combined with reduced calorie intake
- prevention of weight gain following initial weight loss
- improved bone health
- improved physical function
- lower risk of falls (for older adults)
- lower risk of fall-related injuries (for older adults).
If people have existing chronic health conditions and disabilities, the American Physical Activity Guidelines Committee says there are still benefits associated with regular physical activity, such as:
- improved health-related quality of life (for cancer survivors)
- improved fitness (for cancer survivors)
- lower risk of dying from breast cancer (for breast cancer survivors)
- lower risk of all-cause mortality (for breast cancer survivors)
- lower risk of dying from colorectal cancer (for colorectal cancer survivors)
- lower risk of all-cause mortality (for colorectal cancer survivors)
- lower risk of dying from prostrate cancer (for prostrate cancer survivors)
- decreased pain (for people with knee and hip osteoarthritis)
- improved physical function (for people with knee and hip osteoarthritis)
- improved health-related quality of life (for people with knee and hip osteoarthritis)
- lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality (for people with hypertension)
- reduced cardiovascular disease progression (for people with hypertension)
- lower risk of increased blood pressure over time (for people with hypertension)
- lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality (for people with type 2 diabetes)
- reduced progression of disease indicators (for people with type 2 diabetes)
- improved cognition (for people with dementia)
- improved physical function, including walking speed and endurance
- improved walking function, muscular strength, and upper extremity function.
The American Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee says that the number of hours before bedtime at which the activity is performed does not matter. Benefits are similar for physical activity performed more than 8 hours before bedtime, 3-8 hours before, and less than 3 hours before bedtime.
Medical News Today documents a 2020 study by the Division of Psychiatry at University College London, published in BMC Medicine, of 152,978 people aged 40-69 years in the United Kingdom using data from the UK Biobank. The participants underwent three tests: 1) cardiorespiratory fitness (heart rate), 2) grip strength (proxy for muscle strength), and 3) clinical questionnaires related to anxiety and depression. The participants were tested in 2009-2010 and again seven (7) years later in 2016-2017, accounting for other factors, such as age, natal sex, previous mental health conditions, smoking status, income level, physical activity, educational experience, parental depression, and diet.
The findings showed that participants who did not exercise had 98% higher chance of experiencing depression and 60% higher chance of experiencing anxiety than the participants who did some form of exercise. Almost any kind of exercise can help – looking after children, doing housework, cycling, going to the gym, running, etc. Moreover, the researchers found that a person can meaningfully improve their physical fitness in as little as 3 weeks, which may reduce the risk of developing a mental health condition by up to 32.5%. On average, all participants in total experienced 3.4 days of poor mental health per month, but people who exercised had, on average, 2 days of poor mental health per month (i.e. a total of about 48 hours over the month – not consecutive hours). Researchers found that participants benefited most, in terms of mental health, if they exercised for 30-60 minutes (per session) 3-5 times per week. Note that participants who over-exercised – i.e. more than 3 hours (180 minutes) a day – had worse mental health than people who did not exercise at all (due to exhibiting obsessive behaviours associated with poor psychological and emotional outcomes).
Anyone of any age can move, to various extent, their whole body or parts of their body (except the severely impaired). The Mayo Clinic Health System provides a few simple ways to incorporate movement into your everyday life:
- Stand instead of sit, where possible
- Stand and move at least once per hour for 3-5 mintues
- Take a walk
- Walk or move during phone calls
- Park a distance away from shops and offices and walk to your location
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator, where possible
- Walk around the home when doing routine chores
- Walk your dog daily
- Mow the lawn, rake leaves, and plant flowers.
The 2018 document of the American Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends moderate-intensity aerobic activity (anything that gets your heart beating faster than normal) for at least 150 minutes a week (21 minutes a day) or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (like running) for at least 75 minutes a week (12 minutes a day). This should be accompanied by muscle-strengthening exercise (like lifting weights) for at least 20 minutes 2 days a week. However, the committee says, ‘do what you can’ – even 5 minutes of physical activity has real health benefits.
Move. Just move.
Over-exercise, excessive exercise, and extreme exercise (and extreme sports) can cause muscle fatigue, injuries, or bodily harm, particularly after long periods of no activity, reduced concentration, or under intense and difficult conditions (hang gliding, parachuting, cycling etc.).
Moving – in all its forms – does not necessarily address core issues.
“Consciousness is only possible through change; change is only possible through movement.” – Aldous Huxley, The Art of Seeing
“Movement offers us pleasure, identity, belonging, and hope. It puts us in places that are good for us, whether that’s outdoors in nature, in an environment that challenges us, or with a supportive community.” – Kelly McGonigal, The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage
DISCLAIMER: This website’s author does not dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of any technique as a form of treatment for physical, emotional, or medical problems without the advice of a physician or psychologist, either directly or indirectly. Therefore, information provided here is not intended to replace readers’ existing or other medical, psychological, financial, or legal advice. The author’s intent is to offer general information to help readers in their quest for emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing, guidance towards self-empowerment, and/or for entertainment purposes only. Rainy Day Healing and Martina Nicolls shall not be held accountable for any loss which may arise from any readers’ reliance and implementation of any information provided. For information on courses and personal consultations, see TERMS AND CONDITIONS.