In order to keep moving…
Movement is such an integral part of our healthy existence by delivering oxygen rich blood to the cells. As we saw in the previous post, oxygen is used by the mitochondria to create energy from the food we digest (read more). The contraction and relaxation of working tissue (muscle) is what pulls blood into the tissue. The blood moves from working tissue to working tissue carrying nutrients and oxygen to, and removing waste from these tissues. Conversely, cells that do not receive this benefit from use will perish.
Movement and exercise are not the same. Exercise works the same tissue over and over making it stronger at the price of underutilized tissue. Exercise, a form of movement, focuses on specific muscles within a fixed range of joint motion, whereas, movement involves a greater range of motion and more muscles. If more muscles are involved, than oxygen is delivered to more areas of the body. For example: hiking involves a greater range of joint motion for the legs, ankles and feet especially when there are varying degrees of elevation and surface types involved. There are over 300 joints in the human body. In “Move Your DNA” Katy Bowman explains how to optimize their range of motion.
Sitting for long periods of time (greater than 4 hours) has been linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Some folks are using standing or treadmill desk to avoid long periods of sitting. Another solution would be to set a timer and offset sitting with periods of movement throughout the day.
Standing for long periods of time has inherent issues as well. Blood swells in the lower legs causing inflammation in the veins. This type of inflammation is known as varicose veins. To relieve the pain associated with varicose veins, compression stockings can be worn. In addition, employees standing on rigid floors such as cement complain of foot soreness too. An estimated 2 million people in the US every year need treatment for plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a condition brought on by too much stress on the heel bone and connective tissue. Anti-fatigue mats provide some relief as do wooden brick floors. Stretching before and after work helps too (read more).
The benefits of movement are many and include: weight loss, cardiovascular health, muscle tone, strength, stress reduction, psychological improvements, and cognitive development. The benefit of movement in the classroom has reduced “behavioral problems” in schools today. Breaks involving running in place, stretching and jumping jacks help the students retain subject matter and keep them engaged in the classroom. Most Finnish schools give a fifteen minute break for every 45 minutes of instruction boosting their academic success. The opposite has been true for US school students where the time for movement has been reduced.
Even movement-based lessons help the students with understanding abstract concepts such as atomic behavior during a fusion process. If the students are physically able to act this out, then they are more likely to understand the concept (read more).
Movement breaks should become mandatory in schools and businesses alike for the learning and associated health benefits.
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For my next post, we will look at the benefits of forest therapy on our health.
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