You no doubt have heard this quote before, “do the same thing, get the same results,” but have you ever related it to your exercise routine? Or perhaps, lack thereof?
What activities do you do in the course of your morning? Think about this from the moment you wake up. If you are like most people, you walk into the kitchen, turn on the coffee pot, and go to the bathroom.
Now, for comparison, watch your cat or dog in the morning when they wake up. They stretch, they move their bodies in a variety of ways, and then run over to you for their first pat on the back. This is animal intelligence. Stretching and yawning is how the body resets and recharges after rest.
There is a scientific name for this stretch, yawn, stretch cycle called pandiculation. The first order of operations before getting out of bed is to stretch, yawn, and stretch to reset and get you charged up for your day.
The human body is designed to move and without regular activity it will stiffen up. To maintain energy, we need to stay active. The majority of North Americans spend 18 – 20 hours per day sitting or lying horizontal. This sedentary lifestyle is making us old before our time and keeping our health care costs astronomically high.
The good news is you don’t have to spend hours each day in the gym pumping iron or jogging on the treadmill to be active. A few movements throughout your day will do the trick – but the key is to do many different simple things. The body is a three-dimensional network and requires a variety of actions. Over 85% of the muscles in the torso are diagonally oriented which means we are designed to twist and rotate. Your core (everything from your thigh to your collarbone) is what helps you maintain stability and balance. It’s your powerhouse and this powerhouse needs stimulation. It needs to be challenged in a variety of ways to maintain support and good posture.
1. Pandiculate – before getting up, lengthen your entire body, stretch in all the ways that feel good, and look for restricted areas. Inhaling while you reach will help get the best results.
2. Stand up – if you are at a desk all day or driving in a car for long hauls, it is critical to make time to get up and walk around. Be sure to stand up every hour for 5 minutes. This will keep your blood flowing and help your body to stay mobile.
3. Swing your arms – swing your arms forward and back like a pendulum. This will activate the upper core of your backside helping with posture and shoulder mobility.
4. Twist your body from toes to nose – stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your arms along your sides. Put your weight on the balls of your feet allowing the heels to lift and start pivoting your feet. Twist your entire body from side to side. Twisting awakens the central nervous system, giving you energy.
5. Breathe – you breathe unconsciously approximately 20,000 times per day. I’m suggesting you practice conscious or focused breathing; which means you inhale and exhale with intention. You only need to do this for 3 – 5 minutes per day to reap the benefits. Focused breathing is powerful. Research states that focused breathing will help regulate all systems of the body:
Another piece of advice is to be unpredictable with your movement: stretch in a variety of ways, walk around alternating between small steps and big ones, swing your arms fast and slow, swing them both at the same time then alternating them, twist right and then left, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, then breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. If you mix it up and vary things, your body will thank you.