By Megan Storey | January 4, 2021
Happy New Year readers! We have our fingers and toes crossed for an enjoyable and positive 2021. We all know that the turn of the year is an opportunity for many to wipe the slate clean and start over. It doesn’t matter if you are a resolution-setting type person or not, have you thought about what you could do to improve your health this year? If you need some help to decide this, we are here for you. If you’re going to jump on the movement train and try to increase your exercise this year, that’s a great aim, and we applaud you for it. Movement is key to everything we do, and as humans we need to move often in order to stay healthy. Moving often is very important, but we must also move WELL in order to get the most out of our bodies and be truly healthy.
Why is movement so important?
Our bodies are designed to move. Not only do we need to be able to physically move from place to place to carry out our daily tasks, but the insides of our bodies also rely on our movement to function properly. We’ll explain more, but first have a think about what it would be like to be unable to move. Without movement, we cannot reach for the box of tissues, kick a ball, blink or swallow. It’s easy to take it for granted, until you no longer have it. For some people in this world, having a lack of, or inability to move is a reality. There are conditions which change the way we move, or stop it altogether. Neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease and progressive supranuclear palsy are examples of progressive conditions that alter a person’s ability to move. As conditions progress, a person eventually requires help with daily activities, including toileting, dressing and eating, to name but a few. Hopefully this puts into perspective how important movement is, and how those of us fortunate enough to be able to move should make it our duty to move often, move well and make the most of life.
Benefits of moving
The benefits of regular movement include:
- Improved muscle and joint function: Movement is pivotal for our muscles and joints (and other body tissues) to remain fully functioning. If we want our muscles to get stronger, we have to contract and relax them over and over. Movement also helps to keep a steady production of fluid that nourishes the insides of our joints.
- Reduced pain: This is where moving well plays a big role. Our body systems have to work in unison in order for our movements to stay efficient. As soon as something in the chain begins to fail (e.g. muscle injury, joint restriction), our movement becomes inefficient and this paves the way for pain to develop. Following injury, we need to retrain our movements to a more efficient level in order for pain to disappear for good.
- Improved mental health: Movement in the form of exercise is a great way to keep your mental health in check. When we move, our body releases hormones that make us feel good. Endorphins (known as the happy hormones) are hormones that are released when we exercise. Regular movement equals regular release of hormones, and if you feel good, your mind remains clear, your motivation levels increase and your concentration levels improve. You become a more productive person, and you feel great for it. The world becomes your oyster!
- Improved circulation of fluids around the body: Our body relies on movement to help with the flow of different fluids around the body. Our lymphatic system (our bodies defence and waste disposal system) relies almost completely on our movements and muscular contraction in order to pump lymphatic fluid around the body. We also need to move to help pump blood from our limbs back up to the heart.
- Improved digestion and regulation of bowel movements: Moving helps our digestive system function more efficiently, by aiding with passage of food along the digestive tract and out again when we need to open our bowels. Movement is one form of treatment for constipation!
- Improved sleep: Regularly pushing our bodies during exercise can help increase the amount of deep sleep we get each night. Our bodies need this to repair and rejuvenate for the next day.
- It helps us to remain independent beings: As we have already mentioned, when we lose the ability to move, we become dependent on others around us to help us get through each day. Working on your body every day, ensuring you are moving well and often, will help you to maintain independence into your latter years.
What happens when we don’t move?
It seems pretty straight forward that if we don’t move regularly, we are leaving ourselves open to a poorer functioning body. Essentially, the reversal of all the good things mentioned above:
- A weak body: If you don’t use it, you lose it! Lack of movement leads to weakened muscles and bones, stiff joints, and an increased risk of injury.
- Increased pain and swelling: Poor movement patterns lead to injury and pain. Lack of movement can also cause fluids in the body to pool in the extremities, leading to swollen limbs.
- Increased rates of depression and low mood: No movement means we don’t get that regular boost of the happy stuff. Over time this can lead to low mood and an increased risk of developing depression.
- Increased weight gain: Lack of exercise is a big risk factor for becoming overweight and developing many other related conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. People who move less and are overweight also at higher risk of becoming constipated.
Looking to make some changes? We’d love to help you get where you want to be. Come and see us today, and we can look at you move, pick out what needs working on, and set you the task of putting it right. Don’t take movement for granted, it is a gift. Let us help you move well each day so you can keep your body functioning, your mind stimulated, and life good!