My town is participating the an Iowa wellness program called The Blue Zones Project. It is an effort to make Iowa communities happier and healthier places to work and play. This project is inspired by Dan Beuttner’s research of Blue Zones – areas around the world where people live long, fulfilling lives. He has identified nine traits (called the Power 9®) that these Blue Zones have in common. One of these traits is that the people living in the Blue Zones move naturally.
Since I first became involved with The Blue Zones Project late last year, I’ve increasingly started thinking about moving naturally. What does it mean? If you had to pick between exercise and moving naturally, which is more important? And how do we re-structure our schools, workplaces, and communities to encourage more natural movement?
I like to exercise, but I’d rather get my exercise from activities of daily life. Why? Because it feels more natural!
So if you’re ready to jump on the “move naturally bandwagon” (except, it would be better to walk next to it), check out these ideas for how to move naturally:
1. Walk Your Dog
There is a reason why one of the personal pledges of The Blue Zones Project is to get a dog. Dog owners are more likely to get out and move naturally!
Most days, I take my dog, Sophie, for a walk after lunch. Not only is this good for digestion, but I get 15 minutes of natural movement, and Sophie gets to say hi to the neighborhood dogs.
2. Clean Your House
I confess, there have been times in my life when I’ve hired somebody to clean my house. Because I’d rather spend those hours doing things such as blogging and reading and biking and watching movies.
But I realized that if I think about cleaning as moving naturally, it’s a lot more fun and feels like time well spent (plus, there’s nothing like a sitting down with a good book in a comfy chair in a room in a house that you just cleaned with care).
3. Use Your Bike for Transportation
Biking is often associated with exercise. However, in most parts of the world (including Sweden, where I grew up), bikes are an important mode of transportation.
If you’re not going very far, biking can be almost as quick as taking the car – especially if parking is a challenge. And it’s fun!
4. Rake Some Leaves
It’s leaf raking season! You don’t need a leaf blower. An old-fashioned rake will do. A person who weighs 150 lbs will burn 146.3 calories in 30 minutes. And it definitely counts toward your recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.
(I think I know what I’m doing this weekend – if it every stops raining.)
5. Shovel Some Snow
Oh yes, the raking principle applies to snow shoveling as well. Snowblowers are nice (we certainly have one for the massive dumps that bury everything), but much snow removal can be done the manual way.
Just make sure to check out these tips for how to prevent low back injury.
6. Walk Everywhere
Walking is so simple, yet so powerful. Just 30 minutes of walking each day can help prevent all sorts of scary diseases.
Dr. Henry Emmons, an amazing holistic psychiatrist who wrote the book The Chemistry of Joy, recommends taking a 15 minute walk after each meal. That would add up quite nicely to meet your daily activity goals.
Other Ways to Move Naturally
These are just a few suggestions for how to move naturally. Your ability to implement specific ideas will depend on your situation. Where I live, I can walk everywhere, but you may not be able to.
Here are some additional ideas:
- Use stairs instead of elevators and escalators.
- Park a few blocks away from your destination.
- Use the restroom on another floor (or in another building!).
- Avoid household machines that “make life easier.”
- Buy a push mower.
- Start a walking school bus.
- Go for a hike in the woods.
- Stand up as much as possible (e.g. when you’re listening to a webinar).
I’m sure you have others to add. Let me know in the comments.
Added bonus: Notice that many of these ideas are also better for the environment. It’s a win-win!