Using Movement as Medicine
We were made to move. A normal, healthy, human body is extremely efficient when performing physical activity for extended periods of time, especially cardiovascular activity. However, when looking more closely at modern humans, “moving with efficiency” may not be the best phrase to describe the status of population health. In fact, when studying health trends from the past 50 years, it becomes clear the world’s population is the most unhealthy on record. This doesn’t just extend to physical health, it also carries over to mental health as well. In an age of advanced technology and modern medicine, the rapid decline in population health seems to be a paradox. Especially since there are so many “experts” claiming to have the “get health quick” solution. So what is the issue?
While it is not the ONLY issue affecting global health, limited physical activity is certainly a large contributing factor. With so many conveniences like smart technology, cellular devices, and luxuries such as rapid food delivery and online shopping, “movement” is becoming less of a necessity. Additionally, work has transformed from being active to mainly static- with most processes transitioning to computers or automation. We don’t HAVE to move, so why should we?
Physical activity is proven to improve cardiovascular health, musculoskeletal health, control weight, reduce stress levels, improve mood, enhance cognitive ability and prevent chronic disease.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it is true, and it is simple! According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), it is recommended that adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity a minimum of 5 days weekly, or 150 minutes per week. This does not mean going to the gym 150 minutes per week. In its recommendation, the ACSM deems “physical activity” as anything that involves physical movement and elevates the heart rate. This could include walking, gardening, playing in the yard with your children etc. This is great news! Essentially, if we simply “move” with consistency our physical, mental, and emotional health will improve while simultaneously reducing the risk of chronic disease.
It is safe to say, movement IS medicine. Where should one get started? The answer is starting small, keeping things simple, and staying consistent. As little as 5 minutes a day of intentional activity will start to improve health. Look for activities that are enjoyable to you. What matters is that the body is in motion and that the heart becomes elevated from a normal resting state. Lastly, enjoy the journey! Do occasional self “check-ins” to see how intention movement is affecting you. Pay attention to mental states, mobility and cardiovascular health. You may be surprised by how effective this “medicine” can be!