Incidental movement: what it is, and why it’s great

One of my favorite things to talk about is “moving more.” Have you noticed this theme over the last few posts and videos?

I recently read an article about an amazing 94-year old woman named Olga Kotelko, a beautiful, healthy woman who is defying expectations and continues to shatter records in “masters” track and field competitions (see video above). As stated in the article, “at 85, she knocked off nearly 20 world records in a single year. Today, she is the only woman in the world over 90 still long-jumping and high-jumping competitively.” 

What is Olga’s secret?

No surprise here… MOVEMENT is at the top of the list of Olga’s secrets to being a “super-ager.” She regularly exercises and rarely sits for long. 

As stated in the article, “she’s continually popping up to stir a soup, write a letter, or make a phone call. She climbs the stairs, she figures, ‘probably 50 times a day.’ She switches on the TV only to watch her favorite game shows or check the weather. Apart from a brief stint as a secretary after she left her family’s farm, she’s never had a desk job.” 

Researchers call this “incidental movement,” and it’s one of the top habits of healthy people regardless of age or stage of life. Incidental movement includes any activity built up in small amounts over the day. For example, walking up and down the stairs, or walking to and from your car. Incidental movement can prevent back pain, lead to healthy aging, and can even make you more productive at home and at work… There’s nothing more mind-numbing (and creativity-depleting) than sitting for hours at a time without moving your body.

Dishes and laundry aren’t “chores,” they are ways to burn a few extra calories AND fit more incidental movement into your day!

For me, incidental movement includes my twice-daily walks to and from my son’s bus stop (in the morning for drop-off and in the afternoon for pick-up), alternating between sitting on a stool and standing at my stand-up desk (click here for a how-to), standing or pacing when I talk on the phone, and actively seeking out parking spots that are the FARTHEST away from the store. I also look at (formerly dreaded) tasks such as laundry and emptying the dishwasher as ways to burn a few extra calories AND fit more natural movements — squatting, bending, lifting, loading, and carrying — into my day.

To build more incidental movement into your day, park in the farthest spot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do exercises when watching TV. Try a quick morning fitness routine to get your day started on the right foot! Click here for an article that describes my “miracle morning” and the quick movement routine I do every day.

Just get up, and MOVE.

The simple act of rising from your chair to stand up and stretch or shake out your arms and legs will get your blood flowing from your feet to your head, thereby improving circulation and reducing the risk of blood clots and swelling in the lower extremities. Movement is truly lifesaving, and “incidental movement” is just as important as getting your 30-45 minutes of formal “exercise” in each day!

The key is consistency.

Just like when choosing an exercise program, it’s not the type of movement that’s important, it’s the consistency with which you do it.

Stretch

Ah, the memories! This image is of me, STRETCHING during a pit stop on last summer’s road trip.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

PLEASE do not get the idea that rest is “bad!”

It’s all about balance.

Absolutely — put your feet up and rest periodically! But during your waking hours, be sure to MOVE more often than you sit.

Do YOU want to fall in love with movement?

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9 Comments

  • January 20, 2014

    jan

    what an inspiration,huh? Loved the video!

    • January 20, 2014

      Brianne

      I loved the video too! I wish I could meet Olga in person…

  • January 21, 2014

    Alice

    Love it, great inspiration !

  • January 21, 2014

    Alexandra @ Made to Glow

    Thank you for the inspiration. This is perfect timing for me. I just started a desk job a month ago and have been very frustrated by how much I’m sitting and how little I’m moving, especially compared to my previous routines where I’d walk everywhere and be up and going all day. Yesterday, I set a goal to go for a 30 minute walk outside during my lunch break as often as possible (ideally, 4-5 times per week) as well as get up an move every hour at least. I’m hoping that these walks in addition to my usual workouts will help me feel more like myself and ease my back from sitting all day!

    • January 22, 2014

      Brianne

      Alexandra – you’ve got to try the “popsicle stick trick!” You could do it at your office. 🙂 femfusionfitness.com/the-popsicle-stick-trick/

  • January 22, 2014

    Brianne

    Alisa – great summary! You’ve got it!

  • January 24, 2014

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