Stretching at your desk counts as moving!

Don't Exercise - Just Move!

Created by
Karen Gray CH, RN

There is no question that moving more benefits us both physically and mentally, and in the lives of a diabetic, maintaining that balance between diet and exercise can be life or death. But I feel like “exercise” sounds a whole lot like “work.” And what’s more, it feels like one more thing that I’m not sure how to fit into my day and when I don’t get to it I am going to feel bad about myself.

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So, how about we not exercise? Let’s just move more.

Moving more can be a challenge for many people. Chronic pain, fatigue, work and family obligations, and so many other factors can make moving your body seem like a chore, especially when it seems like we just don’t have the motivation or energy to do anything else with our day.

In a moment, we are going to explore some ways that you can move your body more, without going anywhere or even without leaving your seat. But first, let’s talk about why moving is so important.

Is Not Moving Really a Problem?

It is. Doctors call it sedentary living. Prolonged, morning-to-bedtime sitting has been shown by researchers to play a significant role in many of the most troublesome health issues of our time, from obesity and heart disease, to diabetes and depression.

The average person’s typical day looks a lot like this. Count up two hours for meals, one hour or more sitting in the car, five to eight hours sitting at work, up to five hours watching TV, and seven hours sleeping. That adds up to 20 to 23 hours out of a 24 hour day off your feet.

The human body is not designed to sit all day. Our physical and biological structure was designed to move and be active regularly. In fact, there are some body systems, like circulation of blood and lymph, that depend on your movement to function properly.

Until recently, experts considered formal exercise to be the cure for sedentary living. But new research has shown that simple movements, walking, using muscles, and just being up and about throughout the day can be healthier for you than doing a rigorous workout.

This new thinking is important. It means that if you can live longer, healthier, and happier by moving your body throughout the day. You can get all the health benefits and more than people who are working out in a gym and spending the rest of their time being inactive.

How Moving Helps

It is important to point out that I am not talking about exercise. Exercise is an event that you participate in that feels like a chore to do, feels good after we do it, but is difficult to fit into our lives, and we feel guilty when we don’t maintain the unrealistic regimen. Compared to exercise, movement is a humbler, subtler, and easier to implement in dozens of ways throughout our day.

Your mind and body are intimately connected. And while your brain is the master control system for your body’s movement, the way you move can also affect the way you think and feel.

Moving our bodies every day is important for maintaining our mental health as well as our physical strength.

Improve Circulation

Moving your body gets your heart beating and your blood flowing. Increasing your blood flow helps feed your cells and removes waste and toxins from your body. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to every cell in the body.

Encourage the flow of Lymph

The lymphatic system is our body’s way to detoxify, nourish, and regenerate tissue, to filter our metabolic waste, and to keep up a healthy immune system. The flow of lymph fluid relies on the actions of our muscles and diaphragm in order to circulate. Moving can increase lymph activity by 10 to 30 times its compared to its activity at rest.

Boost Energy

I know that it seems counter-intuitive, but physical activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your day.

Enhance your Mood

Physical activity stimulates brain chemicals that cause you to feel happier and more relaxed. Moving your body is a simple way to boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem while also reducing stress.

Regulate Digestion and Elimination

Your intestines are a muscle, and just like any other muscle in the body and they need to stay toned in order to function at their best. When we move, we stimulate intestinal circulation which encourages regularity. When we become more regular, our body is able to rid itself of toxins much more effectively.

Improve Your Mental Health

Physical activity has been proven to be an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, insomnia, ADHD and a wide range of other psychological maladies. Exercise is medicine. In many cases, aerobic activity, strength training, yoga and mindfulness can be more effective than pharmaceutical treatments.

How to Get Moving

Throughout the day...

  • Walk faster - Walking faster burns more calories, strengthens leg muscles, is great for your heart and lungs, and for your attitude and sense of vitality.
  • Take the stairs - Climbing stairs for two minutes, five days a week provides the same calorie burn as a 36-minute walk. Consider setting yourself a quota of say, 60 stairs per day. A typical staircase has 10 steps, so that’s six flights.
  • Add 15 minutes of walking to your lunch menu - At work or at home, we often allot 30 to 60 minutes to eat, but eating usually takes just 10 minutes. Spend your extra time walking, not sitting.
  • Dance - Move to the music at every opportunity, even if it’s just shimmying to music on your own while you wash the dinner dishes.
  • Park on the perimeter - If you park in an empty spot closest to a store entrance, you might only walk 20 steps to the front door. Parking at the far edge of the lot could mean you take 200 strides or more.

At Home...

  • Turn TV time into a workout - Sit up straight and grab one hand with the other. Press your palms together hard for five seconds, then release. Repeat at least four times. Next, straighten one of your lower legs so it’s parallel to the floor, then lower it, switching back and forth between legs for as long as you can do it. Next, use commercial breaks during TV shows as a chance to rise off the sofa and stretch or move around.
  • Put drinking water in a gallon jug - Keep it in the refrigerator, and when you need a drink, pour it out. A gallon of water weighs more than eight pounds, and that is enough to give your wrist and arms a workout with each pour.
  • Use your windows - Rather than just turning on the air-conditioning come summer, learn how to create breezes through your home by opening and closing certain windows. You’ll save money in electricity, and regularly raising, lowering, or cranking windows is real exercise.
  • Exercise your calf muscles while standing - Place your feet flat on the floor, then rise up onto the balls of your feet, hold for two seconds, then sink down. Repeat 20, 30, 50 or more times. Do this also while washing dishes or standing in line.

In the Yard...

  • Spend an hour outdoors each week - Pull weeds. Walk the dog. Practice your golf or tennis swing. Mulch the beds. Look for unusual birds. Bicycle. Visit a neighbor.
  • Rake by hand - Don’t use a leaf blower. By grabbing a rake instead, you’ll burn an additional 50 calories per hour.

At the Office...

  • Talk standing - Whenever talking on the telephone, stand up and if possible, walk or pace. Never be seated while chatting on the phone.
  • Have walking meetings - Need to discuss an important matter with a colleague? Skip the conference room, slip on some comfortable walking shoes, and invite them for a stroll. Bring a small pad and pen to jot down notes, or use the voice recorder on a smartphone.
  • Get face-to-face at work - Instead of emailing or calling colleagues, walk to their part of the building for some face time when you need to ask a question or solve a work issue.

The Role of Hypnosis

David Spiegel, a psychologist at Stanford, describes hypnosis as the feeling of living in the moment without feeling self-conscious about your behavior.

“You do shift into a different kind of brain function when you go into a hypnotic state,” he says. “It helps you focus your attention so you’re not thinking about other things, you have better control what’s going on in your body, and you’re less self-conscious.”

But more and more, researchers are defining hypnosis as a subject’s heightened susceptibility to suggestion, whether an induction procedure was used or not. The hypnotic state can occur in all manner of situations, even by simply visiting the doctor’s office.

The power in this is that our heightened suggestibility can make us perceive something as either better or worse than it actually is. Medical professionals often unintentionally increase a patient’s pain by simply suggesting that a procedure will hurt. When we’re in that place of suggestibility, our brains can change our perception of an event based purely on suggestion.

If you are in a place where you just can’t find the motivation to get up and move, hypnosis can help you by giving the suggestion that you want to move, and you are looking forward to moving more. These suggestions, in this hypnotic state, become your reality. If you are stuck in patterns of unhealthy eating, emotional eating, and binge eating, hypnosis can help.∎

Karen Gray is a Certified Hypnotist, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, you can visit, contact Karen at, or call (802) 566-0464.


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