Move That Body
By Kathy Ferguson, RN, Parish Nurse
Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. John 5: 8-9
We have heard it before…exercise is good for you. Do you know what I have also heard? I HATE to exercise! I think that it is time to reframe “exercise”. Let’s call it healthy movement instead. We do not all have the same physical fitness talents. I, for example, will never be a runner (or a pole vaulter or a downhill skier). I have accepted the fact that I won’t be doing these things and I am actually quite relieved. However, even though we may not have the talent of an Olympic caliber athlete, we all have the ability to move our bodies in some way or another. Over the last few weeks, I don’t think that I have seen so many people out moving about as when we were under stay-at-home orders.
Every day I saw people walking, running, biking, skateboarding, hiking, working in their yards…you get the picture. Would you consider all of these activities exercise? Maybe some, but many we consider as just enjoying the outdoors and breathing some fresh air. You don’t have to be outdoors to move your body. How about some dancing? I like having my own dance party while listening to 70’s music. (There is a reason that I do this in the privacy of my own house.) Other ways to move inside—yoga, using the treadmill or other equipment, stretching. Even in this time–and maybe especially in this time–of COVID-19 we need to continue to think of our whole health which includes moving our bodies. In this month’s article, we will continue to explore the Healthy Living Wheel by looking at ways to move our bodies and maintain our health in the process.
You may be asking, “What’s so great about moving my body (or exercising)?” There are several benefits of getting ourselves up and moving:
Makes us feel well—both our body and our brain
Improves circulation—gets your heart beating and your blood flowing
Increases energy level—with regular activity you can improve how your heart and lungs work which leads to increased energy so you can do all the things you love
Reduces stress/makes us feel happier
Keeps our digestive system moving along
Allows us to interact with nature
Connect with others (post-COVID-19)
Some ideas on how to add healthy movement to your daily life:
Walk or bike to work and feel energized when you arrive (but maybe a little sweaty).
In parking lots, park as far away from the entrance as you can. At Bethel, this is a great way to incorporate some activity and leave closer parking spots available for those in need.
Take the stairs rather than the elevator. I used to work on the 7th floor and the walk up the stairs was a challenge at first but got easier as time went by.
Instead of a coffee break, take a walk break. If you work at a desk or use the computer at home, get up every hour, and take a little walk and stretch.
Dance with someone or by yourself—relive your younger years and have fun!
Gardening or yard work. You can work a lot of muscle groups while pulling weeds, raking the lawn, or mowing the lawn with a push mower.
Stretch while sitting at your desk, watching TV, or reading. Stretching your neck, shoulders, and upper back feels great, especially if you have been sitting in front of a computer.
Play with your friends, kids, or grandkids. I have improved my soccer and basketball skills while playing with my grandsons.
Take a hike. We have so many places in our area to take a hike and most are relatively easy. You can also head out for a bike ride on the trails around Rochester and in southeast Minnesota.
Revisit a favorite activity that you did as a child. It could be anything. Did you like swimming? Get back in the pool—just walk around in the water or swim laps or take a water aerobics class.
Try a new activity. Maybe you have heard someone talk about Pilates or yoga, but you aren’t sure you can do it. Sign up for an introductory class and bring a friend with for moral support. I have found that I like boxing—just some sparring with a trainer or some kickboxing moves. It is an excellent stress reliever!
If you started being more active during our stay-at-home orders, don’t stop now! Just remember how good it felt to get out there and walk or bike or run. You know what? It will still feel great after the orders are lifted!
Move that body… and don’t call it exercise if that is holding you back.
Question of the Month: Name some ways that movement enriches your experience of life.
Beyer, A. (2019). 5 ways to find joy in moving your body, for everybody. https://www.healthline.com/health/joyful-movement-for-all-bodies#1 .
Church Health. (2014). Model for healthy living: Introduction with reflections. Church Health: Memphis, TN.
Qardio. (2018). Get up and move: benefits and tips for daily movement. https://www.getqardio.com/healthy-heart-blog/tips-for-daily-movement/ .
Wright, B. (2018). 5 benefits of moving your body. https://chopra.com/articles/5-benefits-of-moving-your-body