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The importance of movement
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Written by Anastasia
Updated over a week ago

Short read

  • The body’s internal clock in the brain helps to manage our energy levels and our metabolism

  • The brain does this by receiving information from ‘time cues’ like activity, food, and sunlight

  • Movement and activity are some of our body’s primary time cues, and moving more can help boost our energy levels

  • There's a common myth that we need to do activity for long periods of time for it to be worthwhile. But this isn't the case. Adding in small amounts of movement across the day is just as beneficial.

  • We recommend using a daily step count as a starting point for tracking your activity and trying to set a goal that's challenging but realistic for you to achieve

  • Our recommendations for adding more movement to your day include getting off public transportation earlier to walk some of the way, doing short bursts of exercise while the kettle boils, and taking the stairs instead of lifts and escalators

  • Today’s reflection: All movement benefits our health, including daily tasks like cleaning the house and gardening. What daily activities do you do that include movement? You might be more active than you give yourself credit for.

The body’s internal clock regulates many essential functions, such as metabolism and the digestive system. We call this our circadian rhythm.

The brain receives information from our environment and lifestyle behaviours (such as diet and exercise) to determine what time of day it is; we call these ‘time cues’. These time cues can regulate specific bodily functions to sync with our sleep/wake cycle.

Movement and physical activity are two of the body’s primary time cues for regulating our sleep/wake cycle. Moving more can boost our energy levels and improve our health.

​​Nowadays, many of us work from home, have jobs requiring us to be seated for long periods, or find ourselves so busy that we sit at our desks for lunch.

This limits our opportunity for activity and movement, so our brain won't get the time cues needed to function optimally.

In this article, we’ll explore how movement can boost our energy levels and offer ways to introduce more movement and exercise into your day.

Movement and physical activity

We’re often made to believe that activity must be a long, uncomfortable, and sweaty experience to make it worthwhile. But this isn’t the case.

Activity is any form of movement that gets our muscles and blood pumping. There are plenty of different types and levels of exercise, and there’s no ‘right’ way for everyone to be active.

Research suggests that if we enjoy being physically active, we’re much more likely to do it. If you don't know what types of activity you like doing yet, that’s ok. We'll be providing the right encouragement and support to help you find ways to move that make you feel good.

Additionally, research has shown that the greatest health benefits from activity are seen in going from doing nothing to doing something.

How to move more

Before considering what we can do to add more movement to our day, we need to know what we’re currently doing.

A simple tool to measure this is our daily step count, which is tracked nowadays by most smartphones and watches. We can take note of our average over the past few weeks or months and use this as our baseline.

Then, we can set a realistic goal. We recommend starting small and building up. Here’s an example:

Current step count: 5,000 steps a day

Goal step count: 5,500 steps a day

Finally, let’s take a look at some ways to increase our step count:

  • Go for a 5-10 minute walk first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, or when you’ve finished work

  • Get off at an earlier bus stop or train station (if it’s close enough) so you need to walk a bit further to your work or home

  • Leaving the house earlier and walking part of your commute

  • Parking the car further away from the office or shops

  • Having walking meetings with your colleagues

  • Walking to the shops instead of taking the car

  • Taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator

  • Using the loo a few floors up or down in your office building

  • Join a local walking group

  • Take the stairs instead of the lifts and escalators at your office or train stations

  • Dance while the kettle is boiling

  • Do 5 squats every time you’ve been to the toilet

  • Reflect on the journeys you currently take on public transport or in your car; which could be changed to include more walking?

Today’s reflection

All movement benefits our health, including daily tasks like cleaning the house and gardening. Which activities do you perform each day? You might be more active than you give yourself credit for.

Written by Robbie Puddick

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