Handstand in a doorframe.
As human beings we are genetically wired to make things as efficient, easy and convenient as possible. But that convenience comes at a price. We all know that eating convenience food isn’t good for us, but what about convenience in movement?
This is a list of some of the stuff that I do differently around the house in an effort to get more movement and also more varied movement into my life.
- Barefoot – take your shoes and socks off and let your feet come alive.
- Floor sitting – instead of sitting on the sofa to watch television, sit on the floor. You can sit cross legged, kneeling, sitting with legs out straight, tucked under you, the opportunities are endless and each time you move – and you will move because it is uncomfortable, consider that an exercise in and of itself. Plus the added bonus of getting on and off the floor in the first place will mean you’re mobilising your body each time.
- Equipment around house, balls, bands, bolsters, cushions, straps. I keep my equipment close at hand so I can use it as I spot it knocking about. I use half rollers to do my calf stretching, lacrosse and spiky balls to mobilise my feet, straps to do calf stretches, walls to do legs against the wall,
- Don’t let your mum dictate what you can and can’t do in your own home. My mum would be absolutely horrified to know that I stand, lean, hang from and swing on what furniture, cushions etc. I do have, so I don’t tell her.
- See your home differently. Treat is as a playground. Use what you have.
- Touch your doorframes
- Climb under your bed – go under stuff instead of around.
- Climb over your bed – go over stuff instead of around.
- Hang from your fingertips (feet on floor!) from your doorframes
- Practice the upper back stretch on the bed frame
- Practice hanging from your stair rails.
- Practice climbing or descending stairs differently, backwards, side ways, on all fours etc.
- Bear walk down your hallways forward and in reverse.
Sit on you kitchen work surface, boost yourself up with your arms to get there, lower yourself down slowly for a tricep workout.
Standing on cushions whilst working on laptop = different surface for feet
- You don’t need to spend time working through exercises, do the exercises while you’re doing something else and use your furnishings and the building itself to help you get more movement into your day.
- Squat to chop veg or prepare food – you can prop your heels or rest your bottom on something.
- Eat whilst on the floor – the kids would love a floor picnic.
- Calf stretch while doing your hair/makeup/brushing your teeth
- Do the hip list ALL THE TIME, shower, cooking, standing in the queue at the shop.
- Stand on one leg and feel those hip listing muscles kick in, practice closing your eyes to improve your balance (not while cooking or in the shower though).
- Use a laptop/tablet etc. while you’re on the floor.
- Create a standing workstation to work at.
- Create your own anti-fatigue mat to wear at said standing work station.
- Roll your feet with the balls whilst working or sitting to dinner.
- Stand on one leg and balance to put your socks and shoes on.
- Get your leg up on something high (work surface, table) (ignore your mum’s voice in your head) to tie your laces.
- Roll your feet with the balls whilst working or sitting to dinner.
- Practice the top of the foot stretch whilst sitting in your office (shoes off).
- Drink a ton of water so you have to get up constantly to pee.
- Practice squatting every time you sit/stand to go to the loo, sit at a meeting, sit on the sofa,
- Practice planking and push ups to a work surface or low table.
- Bend from the hip whenever you bend to pick something up and squat with a vertical shin from this position if what you’re picking up is further away.
- Sit differently, sit cross legged on your chair, or kneeling, or with one leg tucked up.
Homemade DIY anti-fatigue mat
- Walk to the shops
- Walk to work or part of the way
- Walk the stairs
- Walk to do chores/errands
- Walk during your lunch hour or get up early
- Get your kids to walk with you
- Try walking on something other than concrete and tarmac – get offroad, get on some grass, sand, whatever you have nearby.
- Walk when you’re on the phone, listening to a book or having a meeting (yes, the other people/person has to come too).
Barefoot outside – it won’t kill you, I promise.
- Get a Squatty Potty.
- Change your mindset – stop viewing ‘chores’ as something that needs to be convenient, easy or avoided. Start seeing your ‘chores’ as an opportunity for movement.
- Just put your arms above your head because you can’t remember the last time that your arms were ever overhead.
- Use the side of the bath whilst waiting for it to fill to practice hamstring stretches, press ups and tricep dips.
- Use a hand whisk instead of an electrical one, use the opposite hand.
- Make your environment work for you rather than allowing it to rob you of your natural movement ability.
- Practice hand, finger and wrist stretches on tables, chairs or work surfaces.
- Mop or brush instead of vacuuming.
- Get down on your hands and knees to mop or brush the floor instead of using something with a long handle.
- Clean your windows and get your arms working and reaching.
- Clean the bath in a forward bend.
- Open doors with your arms instead of letting the automatic ones do it for you.
- Climb the stairs two at a time, a great workout for your butt.
- Stop outsourcing the work of your muscles to the convenience of furniture. Get past the cultural taboo of sitting on the floor.
- Be mindful of how you’re moving when you’re doing simple stuff, it’s the habits that you have that are creating the shape and movement capacity of your body. Change the habits and you change your body.
- Use your head and neck muscles to look behind you when reversing, don’t rely on your parking sensors and cameras all the time. By all means check them, but you should be able to twist far enough to reverse.
- Carry stuff.
- When you go to the shops carry your stuff back on either your back, in a bag, or in your arms.
- Carry your kids.
- Carry a basket in the supermarket instead of pushing a trolley. Get your kids to carry a basket too.
- Carry stuff differently, rucksack on one shoulder, both shoulders, the ‘wrong’ shoulder, the front of your body, in one hand and then the other.
- Carry stuff that you wouldn’t normally so you are using your arms for as they were intended, not just for typing and driving.
- Get outside more.
- Relax your eyes – we do too much close work, look at stuff in the distance. Get to a window and let your eyes relax, or better yet, get outside and get some fresh air at the same time.
- Take your sunglasses off so your eyes have to work to focus (be safe if driving with glare).
- Stand up – chairs render most of your body redundant, you need no muscular effort to sit and slump – standing up can burn an extra 100,000 calories per year!
- Get your swing on – most people have lost their natural arm swing when walking. This simple movement can improve your walking efficiency and upper body strength
- Change your shoes – when you need a new pair of shoes, considering buying something that doesn’t have as high a heel, or as narrow a toebox.
- Transition to a minimal shoe.
- Get outside more often, walk and spend time in nature.
- If you have a garden, spend some time barefoot in it, dig your feet in the earth, feel the grass between your toes. Enjoy bringing your feet back to life. They will thank you and reward you for it.
- Move with better alignment – learn how to sit, stand, walk and move well. The better aligned your body the less injury prone and the better and more efficiently it will function.
Most importantly don’t worry about what anyone else thinks! They’ll get over it and whilst you’re still dancing and rolling on the floor with your greatgrandkids at 90 years of age, they’ll have their replacement hips and knees and walking sticks and zimmers to play with.
*As I typed this I had the laptop at a height that I had to hip hinge to type and in between each time I stand up I’m rolling out a foot on a lacrosse ball before hinging again. Then I decided to post it as a blog post so now I’m squatting with my heels propped up on my conveniently handy half roller.