Category Archives: Blog

Are You Actively Sedentary?

Last Saturday morning I met a friend and Restorative Exercise Specialist™, Galina, for an early morning walk along Lake Washington Blvd. Afterward, I was thinking about the changes I’ve undergone in the last couple of years, regarding health and movement.

When I had a regular job, sitting mostly, at my computer, I would go out for a lunchtime run, and come back to my seat, getting up only to get quick bite of my lunch. Then I’d commute home (usually by bike), eat dinner, and crawl up on the couch for an evening of surfing the web. My back would be stiff and sore when I got up, and my legs tight.

Meanwhile, at my  annual check ups, my blood pressure started creeping up – not a good thing with a familial history of cardiovascular disease – and my weight, despite the running and cycling, seemed to plateau. I attributed it all to getting older.

Then, I was laid off from my job. About a year before,  I came across Katy Bowman and (now) Nutritious Movement. With extra time on my hands, now was the time to sign up for her certification program in Restorative Exercise™. I started a two year program in January 2015; the first year involved weekly assignments around moving. We learned how we move, how frequently we move, what we move over, and what parts might not be moving as well as they could. I got rid of my couch, started walking more (and over textured terrain, in minimal shoes), sitting on the floor, stretching tight muscles (like hip flexors) and strengthening weak ones (like hip stabilizers), and did more calf stretching. Over time, my blood pressure returned to normal, and I lost about eight pounds, without ‘consciously’ doing anything. All I really did was move (heh) from being an actively sedentary human to one who moves more.

The term ‘actively sedentary’ is now used to describe how, in our modern lifestyle, a supposedly active person (think: runner, cyclist, for ex) might be as unhealthy as a sedentary person, if other than that activity, they sit most of the day. In other words, sitting, then running or cycling or fill-in-the-blank for your favorite ‘cardio’) then sitting, can be as hard on your body as just sitting all day.  In sitting frequently, and for long periods, our hip flexor muscles get tight, and over time, become physically shortened, as do other muscles. Cardiovascular health is also affected; going for a run (immediately) after sitting all day does not automatically restore length to those muscles, and in some cases, can be harder on your heart. Going back to sitting with muscles still warm just helps mold them back into that shortened ‘L shape’. Cycling (especially road cycling), followed by sitting, doubles the hip flexor tightness too!

Walking after a dentist appointment. Rain stopped; so I picked a bus stop farther away

I’m NOT SAYING don’t bike or run! Incorporate walking into your exercise; transition via walking, especially if you’ve been sitting all day. Even more important is to move throughout the day. Here are five ways you can move more. Think of other ways to create your own!

  • At home – Try standing up while you eat breakfast.  Or squat, like you might around a campfire. If you have a window nearby, you can check out the scene outside, giving your eyes a stretch. (Once, when I did that, I caught two huge raccoons in the process of digging for grub – right in our backyard!)  I keep a half dome under my kitchen table, and get a calf stretch in while I drink my espresso.
  • Commute – do you drive to work? Take the bus? Sitting for an hour or more is HARD on your body! Try parking farther away, or get off the bus a few stops earlier, and walk the rest of the way in. Give your legs a nice stretch before settling in to the workday
  • At work – if you are sitting in front of a computer or workstation, take a break every thirty or so minutes. Even standing stations can stagnate our bodies – watch this. It only takes three minute for a break, but that movement adds up over the day! If you have a window nearby, take an eye break, too! Stare at something (trees, clouds, birds) far away- you’ll be relaxing those eye muscles that work to focus on that screen!
  • After work – you get home and either pick up dinner (on foot!) or prep it. If your usual MO after dinner is to sit on the couch and veg out, switch it up! Try sitting on the floor. Not ready? Ease down! First move to the edge of your couch or chair and stretch your legs out straight. As that becomes easier, drop down to a footstool or crate that’s lower than the couch or chair. Over time, move to a cushion on the floor. When you sit on the floor, you have to get up, too. That equals more movement!
  • Before bed – take a night time walk. My friend Amanda takes a night time walk with the whole family. It’s a great way to catch up and, it’s been shown that a walk before bedtime promotes a better night’s sleep. As good as a hot bath, it warms you up before bed without taxing your body.

When you think outside the box (car, bus, home, office, etc), you’ll find other ways to work in more movement through your day. In the end, your body will thank you!

Oh just blog it! Things I learned at Certification Week with Nutritious Movement

Some may know that I’ve been spending almost the last two years working toward certification in Restorative Exercise™ with Nutritious Movement. A couple of weeks ago, I attended certification week at the Nutritious Movement Center in Sequim. For teachers we had (most of) the staff from Alignment B.E.A.C.H. – Breena Maggio, Tim Harris, and Michael Kaffel – as well as Katy Bowman and Michael Curran (check here for pics of them!) All week long! Plus, I was with a group of like minded people who are all working to better themselves in their bodies, so that they too can help others. In short, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! 🙂

I’ve been lax on putting all my thoughts and learnings to paper (or computer, in this day and age). But, I have made a few posts about it on Instagram (because a picture is worth a thousand words, but could also use some elaboration ;)). So in lieu of a blog post, I’m sharing links from my IG page @movewellmovemore. Explanations are in the linked photos.

It will be a few months before I am fully certified (have some other requirements to fill) but when I am, I’ll be offering sessions. And will continue exploration because one should never stop learning!

BTW, eventually, I’ll be moving most of this content to a new website – movewellmovemore. Stay tuned!

Grouped by subject, here are some of my IG posts… 

On grip strength
Crawling on a beam (repost from @nutritiousmovement)
Demo of grip strength and fruit
Muddy hands and patterns
Baby Carrying and Climbing
We’re losing our grip!

On Proprioception
Log walking
More log walking
Movement opportunities

On climbing and descending 
Stairs
Ground force (repost from @alignmentrescue)

On Movement ecology
Where did this come from

My awesome housemates for the week
Some of us
All of us

Think outside the chair!

The Accidental Dog Walker

For the last week, and 1.5 weeks more, I’ve been covering for a local dog walker while she takes28574823053_9800cf2e9d_z time off to get married and honeymoon. It all happened by accident. I was laid off a couple years ago from my regular job, and still work very part time there. I also still work with clients who come to me for Chi Running or Walking, but I do have free time on my hands. I use a lot of it prepping for certification in Restorative Exercise™ via Nutritious Movement, but can always stand more income.  I didn’t know if it would be overwhelming, time-wise, and allow me to do what I needed to at my part time job. But I did want something that would incorporate more movement into my life, as I have seen huge benefits over the past year from getting more varied movement in my daily living.

Accidental job

I often take care of Pixie, when her owner, Madi, is out of town. Our home has become Pixie’s home-away-from-home. One day I walked into our local pet store, Wally Pets, with Pixie, and the owner Paul rang up my purchases, saying ‘I give all dog walkers 10% off.’ I explained I wasn’t really a dog walker but it was something I was interested in knowing more about. He put me in touch with Jessica, his FAVORITE dog walker, as she needed someone to cover her clients (see above), and a relationship was born. We arranged to meet and I walked a couple of dogs with her, asked lots of questions, and finally met the owners. My fears of commitment gradually eased, replaced by falling in love with the dogs.  I now walk 5-8 miles a day (I was BUSHED after the first couple of days; I’m getting ‘trail hardened’ now) and I get the satisfaction of someone (the dog) happy to see me, several times a day. Talk about a soul filling job! And now I have to get a card to Paul so he’ll quit asking me for one. Ha!

Movement

As for movement nutrition, there’s the 5-8 miles a day of walking. There are also plenty of opportunities to work on balance, strengthening, flexibility…you name it. Here are a few.

  • Pelvic list or balancing on one leg – Dogs have to stop and sniff. A LOT. This is a good opportunity to practice balancing on one foot, ala pelvic list, which also strengthens your lateral hip muscles.
  • Calf stretch – Another stop makes an opportunity for a calf stretch, especially when I’m in my most minimalist sandals, my Lunas. Can’t do too many of those! All I need is a curb or rock or log.
  • Squats – And of course, if the dog poops, it has to be bagged – that’s the law! Rather than bend over, flexing your lower back (ow!), it’s a good time to squat. And if they leave what I call a ‘trail of turds’ you can move laterally in that squat to make sure you got it all.
  • Upper body strengthening – Many times, especially if I have a ‘puller’ that weighs more than 20-30 pounds, I’ll use a waist leash. That frees up my arms for movement, and I can still grab the leash if needed. But sometimes I use the owner’s leash. With a puller, that’s an opportunity for working on upper body strength! The day after I walked an 8 month old springer spaniel, I felt it in my shoulders. It’s better than tug-a-war!
  • Distance looking – We all need more distance looking, as we stare at the phone or computer screen far too long. All this near work contributes to myopia, tension headaches, etc. When you’re walking a dog, it’s a good idea to watch for another dog coming down your path, at least a block away, so you know if you need to switch to the other side of the street to avoid conflict. Sometimes I have to stare a minute to see what the other walker is doing and where they’re headed.

All these moves help undo habits and damage from modern living of sitting long hours, walking over flat and level terrain, and missing out on varied movements. Best of all, I get to walk and vary my walk in many ways (I have #7 covered)! I’m enjoying this job, and hope to continue when Jessica returns. My new moniker will be The Accidental Dog Walker, but really, it’s no accident. It’s like it was supposed to happen.