“We don’t understand the difference between exercise and movement,” explains Katy Bowman, a whip-smart biomechanist based in Washington state who’s made changing that fact her personal mission.
Bowman’s company Nutritious Movement (great minds!) and books—like Movement Matters, Move Your DNA, and Don’t Just Sit There—all take aim at the problems of living a sedentary lifestyle.
In other words, running on a treadmill or hitting a strength training class are both good for you. They can’t, however, counter the negative effects of sitting still (hunched over a computer, no doubt) for the other 15 hours you’re awake. Most forms of exercise also focus on one part of the body: muscular quads are not going to help you stay active into old age if your core is crazy weak, for instance.
Instead of imagining you need to stop everything and step out of your life to exercise more, Bowman says there are simple ways to “engage in low-grade, constant movement” throughout your day, utilizing natural movement patterns like walking and squatting.
Here are a few ways to add more movement into your life right now.
5 Ways to Move More
Sit on the floor.
Ever notice how often you have to adjust your position when you’re sitting on the floor? That’s a good thing. Bowman suggests sitting on the floor instead of the couch while watching TV or even during meals. In her house, the dining room table is just off the floor, and her family sits around it on the floor or on wood stools that force them to engage muscles to sit upright.
Carry (and play with) your kids.
Bowman skipped getting a stroller and carried her kids everywhere. Depending on where you live, that may not be practical, but when you can swing it, it’s the most natural form of strength training there is. Chasing them around and across the monkey bars at the playground is a great idea, too.
Take (a lot of) walks.
Schedule walking meetings, take a walk during long phone calls, and turn coffee dates with friends into sip-and-strolls. Example: Bowman tells callers via voicemail that she does all of her calls during a stretch in the afternoon. While on said calls, she walks a mile to get her mail.
Squat for pots.
Store something you use regularly in a low drawer or cabinet that forces you to squat every time you reach for it. Dishes, for instance, or the pot you use to make oatmeal every morning. Just make sure you engage in a proper squat—no hunching over and bending.
Your feet need to move, too. (They support, well….your whole body.) Go barefoot to engage muscles along the bottom of your feet more. If you can add pebbled mats to spots in your house to walk on, even better. Foot, toe, and calf stretches are also key.