What is the best exercise for me?

cat stretching

We all know that exercise is good for us, but do we really understand why? What counts as
exercise, how much of it do we need to do in order to be healthy? Does it matter how we
exercise, or what kind we do?

First, just Move More!

Move More is the ambassador for activity and wellbeing in Sheffield and this is what it says
about exercise:

“ The world we all live in doesn’t make being physically active very easy; in fact, it’s easier to
move less than it is to Move More! Move More provides support, guidance and expert
advice, through its partner network and use of technology, helping people to be more active.
It aims to help Sheffield become the most active City in the UK by 2020. And influence
meaningful improvement in the health, wellbeing and quality of life of everybody living in the
city. It’s the huge support from the Council, the NHS, Activity and Wellbeing providers,
businesses and individuals that makes Move More what it is.”

There is a wealth of information on the Move More website about different activities available
in Sheffield to encourage you to become more active, and MoveFree is on there on the list of
providers:

Shaped by our environment, it’s hard to fit in fitness

I’ve held the opinion for some time now that our environment is shaping us, so I couldn’t
agree more that life today makes it easier to move less than move more. Katy Bowman, an
American biomechanist, has written several books on the subject which are simple and
informative, and I recently listened to a BBC Sounds Podcast called Changing World,
Changing Bodies https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csz4bf narrated by Vybarr
Cregan-Reid, also the author of several books, more recently Primate Change.
Many people feel that with all the pressures of life they don’t have the time or energy to
exercise more. But it’s not all doom and gloom! Whilst exercise and physical activity are
important, there are steps you can take either instead of or in addition to any exercise you
might want to try or are already doing.

Add more movement to everyday activities

In line with the recent Move More Sheffield tagline #everyminutecounts, I invite people to
consider their NEAT. Their what, you ask? The acronym NEAT stands for Non-Exercise
Activity Thermogenesis (the production of heat by metabolic processes i.e. movement)). I
recommend considering how much ‘NEAT’ you are getting, even if you are someone who
already exercises regularly.

Here are Ten NEAT Tips to help you to move more:

  1. Stand up and fidget/stretch regularly to break up a period of time sat at your
    computer or watching TV.
  2. Look at things in the distance to give your eyes a rest, if possible through an open
    window.
  3. Place things a little bit out of reach in your kitchen so that you have to crouch down or
    reach high to get them.
  4. When shopping, walk to the shops with a rucksack.
  5. Park your car in the furthest possible parking spot at the supermarket.
  6. Sweep your floor with a dustpan and brush instead of only vacuuming.
  7. Use heavy cast iron pans to maintain your grip strength.
  8. Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.
  9. Housework and gardening are great calorie burners.
  10. Get on the floor and play with the kids.

Active Sedenterism – fidget, move, stretch, refocus

There is also a concept called ‘active sedenterism’, and the first bullet point above relates to
this. It’s a fact of life that for most of us, large portions of our 24 hour day involve being fairly
inactive, whether this is sitting, lying or standing, but there are ways to break this time up
somewhat in order to encourage more movement in our joints and muscles, which will
encourage circulation and help to prevent stiffening up. So, as well as standing up regularly
and fidgeting you could also:

  • Sit on the floor sometimes, and/or chairs/stools of different heights, meaning your
    joints have to flex at slightly different angles and you have further to go when you
    stand up
  • Perch on the edge of your chair/sofa sometimes so that you have to use your core to
    sit up rather than always leaning on the back-rest
  • When you notice you’ve been sat for a while and choose to stand up, stretch your
    feet or calves whilst looking out of an open window
  • Take short walk-breaks outside, do a lap of your garden if you have one or your
    building if you live in a flat
  • Change your task every hour or so. ‘Cycling’ through different positions and tasks
    means you still get stuff done but the change helps to keep your full attention on the
    current task
  • Notice if your head creeps into a forward position and regularly ramp it back, keeping
    your gaze up and giving yourself a double chin. This will help to increase circulation
    to the brain, encouraging better moods, memory and energy levels

Get in touch to learn more

If you are interested in learning more about how to incorporate more ‘NEAT’ into your
life as well as why it would be such a valuable addition to any exercise you’re
currently doing, come along to a free taster, contact me here.