The American Chiropractic Association has two words for you this month: get moving. And a hashtag for you to use to get others moving: #Move4Life.
October is not only National Chiropractic Health Month — it is where things usually start to get chilly and we start staying indoors more often. It can be hard to stay active during the cold months. And very easy to fall into a tradition of eating comfort food and lounging around the house.
But just because “the boys of summer are gone” doesn’t mean that “you can never look back”. Why not try to scrounge up some of that summer energy for the festive season of fall?
Our purpose here is two-fold: first, to suggest ways to get you moving in the first place, and second, to recommend our favorite fall activities. It’s one thing to try and will yourself to be more active. It’s substantially easier if you have a reason to do so.
“Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking across the floor.” — Kris Kringle, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
We as human beings often have such a hard time getting going that we have to encourage ourselves through song. But if singing yourself into action doesn’t work (often, it doesn’t) then it’s time to ask yourself a few questions.
We often talk about how a sedentary lifestyle is bad for you, but what does that even mean?
The way the body reacts to periods of inactivity is the same for both active and inactive people: unused muscles draw less sugar from your bloodstream, causing a blood sugar spike. This happens to everyone. The difference is that the typical, American, inactive adult doesn’t return to activity often enough and that spike is never regulated. Blood sugar spikes have been connected to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and increased chance of stroke.
And what’s scary is that sometimes we don’t feel the effects of a blood sugar spike.
So how do we keep a healthy blood sugar balance and stave off the onset of disease? A good way to start is to get moving.
Blood sugar imbalance — resulting in hypo- or hyperglycemia or diabetes — can also come about genetically. Staying active and moving around is a useful tool to help control it, but it is not always the sole solution. Please advise with your physician on how best to control your blood sugar levels in these situations.
Or rather, how does one get motivated? (cue hologram of James Cromwell saying, “That is the correct question”)
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet for motivating one to action. We each have our schedules, our own reasons for not exercising, our physical or time constraints, and work environment.
We’ve mentioned that moving is vital to good health. What’s more, on a molecular level, is the promise that moving around will make you feel better.
With all the exercise programs and diets out there, we often forget to take into account that human beings are thinking, feeling creatures that don’t necessarily need to be told what to do. This means that our bodies frequently tell us none-too-subtly when it is in distress. It tells us what food isn’t good for us. It lets us know when it’s tired.
This intuitive living not only motivates us to make lifestyle changes, but it validates our efforts when we do so. The challenge is to not cede to the body’s other request — that for laziness and sugary foods.
The goal of feeling better and living healthier should be motivation enough. But we are, after all, human beings who look in a mirror every day. So if this doesn’t get you moving, know that an active lifestyle can also help you look better.
That’s right. I’m talking swimsuit bod. And there’s no time like the present to get ready for next summer by getting moving today.
Now that you’re looking and feeling like an all-star, it’s time to take stock of your situation. Do you work in an office from 9 to 5, or are you on your feet all day? Do you snack constantly or do you keep yourself in check? Are you already semi-active and just trying to up your game?
We’re all at different places in our journey toward self-improvement, and so different things will work for each of us. Feel free to take what you can from our suggestions.
Experts generally agree that an active person takes about 10,000 steps per day. If that seems excessive, that’s because it does take effort. An already very active person may attain this goal with their daily run, walking down the street for lunch, or evening stroll. For the rest of us, we’ll need to inculcate some of these activities into our routine in order to achieve it.
Of course, that’s if you’re going for the gold. But you don’t have to if you’re just easing into activity. The “get moving” initiative isn’t meant to kick your butt. If you push yourself and you only make it to 5,000 or 6,000 steps, you have achieved your goal — not because of the number of steps, but because you have pushed yourself.
Here are suggestions on how to do so:
Did you know that the mere act of standing burns calories? There are actually quite a few benefits to standing for short periods throughout the day. Unfortunately, our circumstances often don’t make it very convenient.
Commutes and office work are predicated on a sitting position. Honestly, if this is your reality there’s not much you can do to supplant it. But you can certainly supplement it when and where possible.
“Reach right down and touch your toes, how long since you’ve looked at those?” — The Lost Boys, Hook
If you’re not about to run a race or play some two-on-two basketball, it may seem unnecessary to stretch on a daily basis. But a daily regimen of stretches can make everyday movements that much easier and will further facilitate your goal to get moving.
As we inevitably get older, our muscles tighten — especially if we lead a sedentary lifestyle. When you’re stretching, you’re really just stretching your muscles. By doing so, you increase your range of motion and your overall flexibility. The issues you’ll otherwise run into with sitting for much of the day or sleeping in an incorrect position (let’s face it, we can’t always help how we sleep) can be mitigated through daily stretching.
Here are some stretches we recommend:
We also suggest giving at-home yoga a try. There are plenty of free streaming options on Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Netflix. This is a great resource that will have you stretching dozens of different ways. However, be sure to only go as intense as you think you can handle.
The fact remains — the weather is getting colder and we as warm-blooded creatures will spend more time inside. This is comfort food season, this is the time to veg out and trim down our Netflix watchlist, right?
If these are the reasons you love the fall, you are definitely not alone. But there is so much more to autumn that will not only entertain but help you to get moving.
We challenge you to try adequately carving a pumpkin in a seated position. It is just not feasible. You need a good amount of thrust, torque, and balance to scoop out the guts and meticulously carve your jack-o-lantern. Not only will this force you into a standing position, but it will also give your arms something to do.
Regardless of your “scare” threshold, autumn holds something for everyone. Corn or straw mazes offer a fun diversion that in the most literal sense gets you moving. If you can handle it, though, nothing spurs you on like a haunted attraction. You’ll want to get through the maze or building as quickly as you can, and your blood is pumping like a full-blown exercise.
There are pros and cons to both methods of leaf removal, but either way, it gets you up and moving on a crisp fall afternoon. We believe that wielding a leaf blower is more fun and can be more effective but there is also a case to be made for the quieter, more environmentally-friendly rakes. It can also be a great opportunity to serve your neighbors.
With the cooler weather coming in, a lot of organizations choose to hold a 5k during fall. Whether you are a runner or a walker, that is totally up to you — most of them accept any who wish to participate. When you participate in a walk/run in your area, you’re not only moving about but you’re also supporting a great cause.
The classic way to get moving in autumn has to be trick-or-treating around Halloween. If you’re reading this, you’re probably too old to dress up and ask for candy yourself. But if your children or nieces or nephews are at that age, they’ll need adult supervision, and that’s where you and your plan to be more active come in. Plus, if you go on a big enough loop, you can afford to sneak a piece of candy and you should be able to walk it right off.
The month of October is one of our favorite months, but it is also a period when we all descend into our winter hibernation. Thankfully, because we are sentient, working, and responsible human beings, we can choose a different path.
As you make time to get out of the house, get up off the couch, and get moving, you will receive the ultimate payoff: feeling good. Your health will take off on an upward trajectory and you’ll even get a jump start on that summer bod (if such things are important to you).
Celebrate National Chiropractic Health Month with us by getting move on and encouraging others to do the same.