Movement hydration: sip on movement…to stay hydrated!

Can you relate?

Imagine you’ve been sat still for a long time, perhaps working away at a screen, reading a book or watching tv and you haven’t moved much. You find that you start getting signals from your body like discomfort, fidgetiness (if that’s a word?!), physical tiredness, or your brain becomes far less productive.

Often, when you do finally move, you can feel stiff and achy and it takes a while to get back to moving your body more freely.

Back to back zoom calls can have this effect and an example that resonates with most is long-distance flights, where you feel hemmed in and can hardly move, and yet some people’s working days can emulate this level of movement.

These signals are your body’s way of saying, just like thirst, that your body is already lacking movement (it’s ‘dehydrated’ of movement) and needs to be moved to bring it back to a more balanced state.

When we see our body’s need for movement in the same way it needs water, we realise that for optimum health and performance throughout the day, we need to move throughout the day too.

If you’re lucky, you start to notice these signals early on and can respond to them.

You wouldn’t drink your daily 2 litres of water in one go. The same goes for your movement. Try to take sips of natural movement all day

However, if you don’t respond to these physical signals to get moving, everything sort of switches off, or slows down; muscles switch off, your circulatory system becomes less efficient and so on and you feel sluggish and foggy.

When these long stints of being sedentary are interrupted by a call of nature, the doorbell, or having to go to the other side of the room to get the phone, and you get up and move in these small ways, you almost always feel just that little bit better. When you then come back to your desk you’re able to focus just a little bit better, you’re slightly refreshed and obviously relieved if it was for a comfort break!

Tuning in to the improvement in the way you feel from micro-movements can start to reap rewards and help you notice the signals earlier when your body starts to need movement. You start to ‘check-in’ more regularly on how you are feeling.

Just imagine how you could feel if you used more regular movement to break up your day?!

If you’re ‘hydrating’ regularly with movement, improvements in mood, productivity and even mobility and strength are all outcomes of added natural movement breaks.

I do my 150 minutes exercise quote a week. Isn’t that enough?

Exercise is key for healthy longevity. The national minimum requirement for exercise and it’s importance has been communicated heavily, and there's thankfully now general knowledge that we all need to perform exercise of different types to stay healthy.

What hasn’t been communicated well, is for that quota to either be spread throughout the day for optimum health or to be supplemented with regular movement sprinkled throughout the day. Even being a ‘sedentary athlete’ (those who sit for work for 8 hours and then perform longer one-off intense exercise sessions) has now been associated with negative health outcomes.

Every bit of movement counts towards long-term wellness

Adding 2, 5 or 10 minute movement breaks can improve our general well-being, helping our body fight off disease by boosting our immune systems. We can keep ourselves mobile and agile as we age, and we can add in movements to strengthen our bones and muscles so we can keep moving well for life. All of these benefits are well known with regards to what we term as 'exercise', but less so with simple regular daily movement.

What constitutes hydration?

Flipping our thinking on simple practical daily movement means even chores around the house become less arduous because we realise how beneficial they are. When we understand that the flood of oxygen and nutrients created by movement is adding to our health, but also increasing our productivity to make us more focused and energised mentally for the tasks we need to perform, we flip a powerful mindset switch.

Let’s take a normally mundane task as an example: how many times have you dreaded a huge pile of washing that needs to be separated into piles, folded and then put away?

There are actually many wonderful movement elements to this task. You can start with a deep squat to get the washing out the machine (supporting your heels if required), you can then perform a strengthening lift to move the washing to another room with space on a (clean!) floor. You can then get down with control and good technique (provided by your natural movement coaching of course!) onto the floor. Whilst you’re creating folding piles, you can move around on the floor into different seated positions and transition between them, getting wonderful hip, knee and ankle mobility. All the time you’re moving, you’re boosting your cardiovascular system by using your muscles. Then, when you’re finished folding, you get up from the floor by pushing your body against gravity, strengthening and practising a key skill you want to maintain for life. You then lift the washing to put it away, if you have an upstairs climbing at a good pace you. The whole activity includes squatting lifting, carrying, getting up and down, ground movement, strength and cardiovascular work. The benefits are improved mobility, strength and cardiovascular fitness.

When put like this, it almost sounds like one of my natural movement lesson plans. It certainly shares the outcomes!

Nothing new?

You may well say, ‘I do that anyway, so how is that going to help me?’

My answer would be that if you tune in to feeling better physically (and mentally) after doing the task, you are more likely to create a loop in your brain that helps you notice how good it feels to move your body. This tuning in to the benefits like starting to feel stronger and more mobile as you incorporate more movement, in turn encourages you to want to move more.

The more movement we have in our lives, the more we can enjoy movement and the more able our bodies are of moving well, the better everything becomes. We feel confident to choose new hobbies, set ourselves challenges, take up a new sports, and the more rewarding our movement lives become.

Ideas for movement breaks

If you struggle to get up and down off the ground or if you find yourself running out of ideas for different ways to sit or move on the ground, or you want to know how to lift well, these are the natural movement skills I coach.

Becoming efficient in our movements and using good technique that can be used in practical daily tasks helps us to embrace the movement in our lives, feel better so you can do more in your life.

Get sipping and I guarantee you will feel better!

For ideas, go to for 5 and 10 minute natural movement break series.

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