Chronic disease and obesity numbers have skyrocketed to astronomical values. According to data from Harvard, nearly one out of five kids (17%) were obese in 2010, which is more than a threefold increase (5%) since the 1970s (Child Obesity, 2016). In adults the numbers are even higher, with an estimate of about 39.8 percent of the American population, which equates to approximately 147 billion dollars in medical costs according to data from 2008 (Overweight and Obesity, 2018). The problem with these statistics is that many of these cases are preventable with proper lifestyle habits including: physical activity, nutrition, hydration, sleep, and additional stress factors. Additionally, all individuals suffering from obesity are at an increased risk for developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and psychological-related illnesses. This is a trend that needs to be addressed by everyone involved!
In reality the solution is simple: move more and eat high quality foods in smaller volumes. Supplement those two behavioral changes with adequate sleep, plentiful sunlight exposure, less technology use, and minimal additional sources of stress and you have a recipe for success. The problem with this simple solution is that although simple in theory, it is very difficult for many individuals in practice. As a society we have developed behaviors that favor short-term fixes to long-term solutions, and often fail to prioritize aspects of our lives like health and wellness until something catastrophic has happened and a reality-check occurs.
Children learn much more efficiently than adults, but it often takes a major negative event to change habits of older individuals. We begin to develop subconscious behaviors and biases when we are young, and it becomes increasingly difficult to change these habits and trends as we age. This can be illustrated in the acquiring of skills such as learning a language, driving, swimming, tumbling, and almost any other skill you can think of. This is important to note for two reasons: one, the sooner you start the easier it is to maintain a certain behavior; and second, behavior change is often the biggest obstacle to creating a meaningful change in a person’s life. Almost everyone knows they “should” eat well, they “should” go outside more, and they “should” move more, but getting them to actually follow through with the plan is often much more complicated.
The first step to creating a meaningful change in behavior, however, is proper education as to why one should even change what they are doing in the first place, and that is the goal of this post. From there I personally believe it is your personal responsibility to take ownership for yourself and create an environment where the goal can be properly sought after and accomplished. As Napoleon Hill stated in his book Think and Grow Rich, the first step to riches or any other meaningful change is an insatiable desire for whatever it is you want to achieve (Hill, 2011). This is analogous to anything in life.
Movement, or physical activity as it is often referred to, has been shown to have benefits to all systems in the body when appropriately monitored and dosed. This includes: neurological and brain function, learning and memory capacity, cardiorespiratory function, musculoskeletal health, emotional and psychological well-being, and sleep quality. This is not a comprehensive list, but are just some of the areas that moving more will affect your life in a positive manner.
Even if you are an athlete, moving more will probably benefit you as long as you are careful and moving well. This does not mean you should go out and run sprints at every opportunity, or even that you should go for a jog with a friend or family member whenever they ask. I am not telling you to be obsessive about always moving, or freak out anytime you sit down and relax. Resting is essential, too. However, what I am saying, is that getting off the couch, putting down your phone, and spending time to simply focus on your body and your surroundings will have endless benefits to your health and well-being as a whole.
“Working out” is often the only way people in our modern-day lifestyle move anymore. The issue with this is that it is a very constrained mindset. You should not have to plan a “workout” to move. You should simply add movement at any opportunity you can as long as the environment and situation is safe and appropriate, and you are not in need of additional rest for whatever reason. A perfect example would be to take yourself through a safe and effective routine where you move all of the joints in your body through focused and controlled ranges (what many people would call a “mobility routine”) while watching television, watching a movie, watching an online video, or listening to a podcast. You could do yoga, mobility drills, lift weights, perform a bodyweight circuit, just move around, or hold challenging positions isometrically until fatigue. Use this time to focus on movement rather than being sedentary and still. Your body will thank you.
Another way you could add more elements of movement to your life would be to set a timer, either physically or mentally, when you are performing tasks that require you to be sedentary. Whenever the allotted quantity of time is up, you can get up and move for 3 to 5 minutes and then return to whatever task you are doing. For example, if you work a desk job and spend a lot of time at a computer desk for a majority of your day, every 30 to 60 minutes you can get up and walk around, stretch out, or just stand up and move around your entire body for a few minutes. Then you can return to whatever task you were working on with a fresh mind and get back to being productive. Or you could even invest in a desk that requires you to stand or walk and alternate periods of movement with periods of being still. You can also utilize opportunities like taking the stairs over escalators or elevators, parking your car far away when going to stores, moving in place when filling up a car with gas or waiting in line somewhere, or walking or biking as opposed to driving to destinations that are close. There are endless possibilities, you simply have to be committed and creative enough to actually follow through with whatever plan you have in place. Some people may think what you are doing is obsessive, weird, or crazy, but that is the entire reason we live in a society filled with a shortage of individuals that are in a state of true health and wellness anyway. Do not let the opinions of others prevent you from doing things that better you as a person and allow you to realize your true potential.
My final suggestion is to spend more time finding activities that involve physical components that are enjoyable to you, and spend more time doing these activities. This can include anything from dancing, hiking, biking, walking, playing sports, swimming, bowling, combat sports, climbing, or any other activity that you personally find enjoyable. Humans are designed to move, and as a society we spend too much time being sedentary and preventing our joints from doing what they are designed to do. Move away from the constrained mindset of “working out” and “training” and simply find some time to remove yourself from your life and spend time doing something you enjoy while bettering yourself as a human being. Last but not least, do not put this activity as the final priority on a list of things and then constantly put it off until you reach a point where you give up. Make time for yourself, and I guarantee all aspects of your life will improve. Move more, and move every day!
Child Obesity. (2016, April 08). Retrieved October 31, 2018, from
Hill, N. (2011). Think and grow rich: Original 1937 classic edition. Place of publication not
identified: Tribeca Books.
Overweight & Obesity. (2018, August 13). Retrieved October 31, 2018, from