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Why Lack of Movement is Our Biggest Enemy and How to Deal With It

Why Lack of Movement is Our Biggest Enemy and How to Deal With It

However far apart, our mornings are probably just the same. There’s that sting in the eyes you feel as soon as you open them and that blatant pain that keeps on spreading from your lower back all the way up to your shoulders and head. And, finally, the realization that nothing will change, not even today – in the exact same order as the years before, you’ll have some pastry and coffee for breakfast, a tense stomach until noon, and a fuzzy head throughout the day.

Accepting Responsibility

    Once again, you’ll hear all about the glorious possibilities that the digital age has endowed us with, and once again, you’ll go to bed wondering what makes your muscles so sore and your bones so weak. Another day, you’ll come across an article about all those troubling consequences of a sedentary lifestyle and you’ll try to convince yourself that your fatigue and stress are caused by too much work.

    Having gone through all of that myself, I must warn you that extrinsic factors are not always to blame. Your aching lack of movement is a modern disease, indeed, but it still begins in your mind-set. Your choices might be your worst enemy, but the good news is that you can change them for the better.

    It will be hard, I won’t delude you. But, once you start waking up with the sun on your eyelids and a smile on your face, you’ll see that it was all worth it.Here’s how to flip your future beforehand, and replace pain, frustration and dispiritedness for vigour, achievements and contentment.

    Flight or Fight

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      It would be foolish of me to assume that you have never tried dealing with your sedentary lifestyle before, so I won’t tell you that everything begins with a plan. The biggest problem, after all, is that all of your organization tricks have probably already failed you, and what you need now is encouragement to carry on.

      So, instead of advising you to set up your morning alarm to go off an hour earlier, I’ll remind you of the consequences that await you if you don’t. The terrifying prospect of what my body will feel and look like if I continue choosing Netflix and TV dinners over walks in the rain and oranges was what urged me to make a change, and the same basic fight-or-flight response rests in each and every one of us.

      In the Aftermath

        You’re most certainly already experiencing some of the side-effects of an inactive life. I’ve mentioned only a couple of them before simply because they are the most common. As such, they are simultaneously infallible indicators of a decaying body and mind, and a red alert that keeps warning you to get up and start moving.

        Even though you spend a majority of your time seated – be that at work, where your job is to tirelessly type and click, or at home, where everything you want to do after a whole day of looking up to the screen is look up to the screen a bit more – you somehow cannot get enough rest. You’re constantly tired and sleepy, and you have no idea why. And, worst of all, you have pains in your body and weakness on your mind.

        Well, all that is because the human body was developed through movement, and it starts deteriorating if it doesn’t move. When inactive, it rarely does anything at all – your muscles stop burning fat and your blood runs more slowly, thus clogging the flow to your brain, heart, and limbs. No wonder that the consequences are reduced cognitive functions, brain fog and depression, obesity and diabetes, back pain, varicose veins, swollen ankles and loss of muscle and bone strength.

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        Now that you know all the symptoms you can expect, let me say just one more thing – as estimated by The World Health Organization, a lack of physical activity that the sedentary lifestyle implies is linked to 3.2 million deaths a year. A scary thought indeed.

        Finally, here’s how to shake it off.

        Time Waits for No One

          And, now back to the morning alarm. Whatever phase of your life you’re currently in, you cannot deny that there aren’t more interesting and fulfilling things to do than watching TV. I understand that hard work wears you down, but that was my story too. Sometimes, I would return back home at 8 p.m. and I had zero energy for doing anything else. Still, and it may seem like a phrase, little things are what keeps you running.

          Don’t cut off entertainment, just make it productive. The only movie worth re-watching hundreds of times is The Godfather; instead of wasting your time on mindless TV marathons, pen down a list of films and series that will make you elevated and smarter.

          The more little things you accomplish during the day, the more you will feel like a winner once your head hits the pillow. Don’t be afraid of scheduling dates, family outings and meetings with friends – in fact, once you commit to something, avoiding it will be much harder.

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          Finally, arm yourself with a lot of patience, since not all of your productivity and time management hacks will work right away. You’ll need to stay flexible and optimistic and try to cross off one task more from your to-do list every next day. Consistency takes practise and time, but most of all, it takes good will and determination.

          Running Ahead

            Though time management is still something I’m trying to wrap my head around, physical activity is something I’ve mastered, and the best piece of advice I can give you is to start in medias res – not on Monday, not tomorrow, but right away. That way, you’ll have no time to hesitate, overthink it or, as it usually happens, find an excuse.

            Carefully designed programs are for professionals, and everything you need to begin with is to shed a little sweat. Don’t plan to go out walking, since that rarely happens. Hit YouTube instead, search for 20-minute workout routines and finish one each day. Speaking from personal experience, these energy boosters will take exactly an hour of your day, given that you’ll need to take breathers in between and take a hot shower afterwards, so stop telling yourself that you have no time for exercising.

            And, once three weeks have passed and you don’t see any significant results, remember this – it’s a period of adjusting that your long-time inactive body absolutely needs to go through. In five weeks’ time, the pounds will just start melting away, the compliments will come from every side, your back will no longer hurt, and you’ll be so absolutely hooked on looking and feeling amazing that you will never stop working out again. True story.

            Flip the Coin

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              Unfortunately, the sedentary lifestyle is all about giving up. Once in a blue moon, you feel motivated enough to get all dolled up and grab a couple of drinks with your friends, but mostly, that’s not the case. When given a choice, you almost always walk the line of least resistance. If so, you’ll need to start practicing what I like to call the flip-the-coin routine.

              I won’t tell you to choose what’s better for your health, since God knows that nobody does that all the time, the same way that almost nobody chooses pomegranates over chocolate. If having a hard time resisting temptations – and you certainly do, since that’s another symptom of a sedentary lifestyle – make a game out of it and flip the coin. That way, your decisions will not be entirely yours to take, at least in the beginning.

              I’ve done the same with fast food – each time I felt the need for something sinfully greasy, I’d allow a coin to choose in my stead. The odds were always 50:50 and the juvenile excitement of playing a game would make me feel less guilty once I got to savour the fries, while those cases when the coin decided differently taught me that junk food was actually something I can do without.

              Paradoxically, this game of chance enabled me to regain control over my vices, simply by teaching me to balance them out. A life without simple pleasures is not a pleasurable life, which is why you’ll have to learn exactly when to discipline yourself and when to indulge. Hopefully, this cheatsheet strategy will train you to harmonize self-restraint that a healthy lifestyle imposes and hedonism that your human heart longs for, and empower you to stand behind your choices.

              If anything else, you’ll face your worst enemy and pinpoint its weaknesses. No revolution is possible without self-awakening, so allow yourself to dive deep into what you are and what you want to be before deciding to give in or to stand up and fight it off.

              Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/u/abbykihano/ via pexels.com

              More by this author

              Vladimir Zivanovic

              CMO at MyCity-Web

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              Last Updated on May 21, 2019

              13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

              13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

              Creating your productivity ritual — a routine that helps you to maintain a peak level of energy can get you the best out of your days.

              Part of creating your productivity routine involves removing activities that drain you (what I call “kryptonites”), and that includes your bad habits.

              Like it or not, bad habits are bad for you — mentally, physically, emotionally and even socially in some cases. While some bad habits are harder to quit than others, it doesn’t change the fact that you need to get rid of them. Here are 13 bad habits to quit right away:

              1. Stress Eating

              I used to be a serious stress eater. I would eat whenever I felt unhappy, stressed, disappointed, anxious, or even… happy! My eating had nothing to do with being hungry, and everything to do with using food to fill my emotional voids.

              While eating would comfort me, this feeling was momentary and would disappear right after I was done eating. Instead, what I had left would be the same emotional void that triggered me to eat in the first place (be it unhappiness or stress), a 2,000 excess calorie intake over what I should have eaten for the day, and anger at myself for having stress ate.

              I’ve since overcome stress eating. I have healthy eating habits and a healthy relationship with food today where I no longer use food as a tool to fill my emotions.

              If you are a stress eater, don’t fret — here’s how to manage your stress better:

              How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success)

              2. Nail Biting

              Not only is nail biting unhygienic, it is also socially repelling, leads to dental problems like malocclusion of the anterior teeth,[1] potentially cause stomach problems,[2] and lead to severely deformed fingernails in the long run.

              People who bite their nails tend to have shorter nails than the average person; their nail plates also experience scarring and may eventually become absent.[3]

              Understand what triggers your nail biting behavior and replace it with another neutral to positive habit. Make habits to break habits.

              For example, if you bite your nails when you are stressed, go for a walk or listen to music instead the next time you feel stressed.

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              3. Hanging out with Naysayers

              We all know these people — people who play devil’s advocate to every idea you have and every goal you want to pursue. We are already our greatest self-critics, so it doesn’t help when there’s someone beside us, ever ready to pounce on what we say and tear it down.

              Hang out less with these naysayers and spend more time with supportive people who share constructive feedback instead. You will be much happier this way.

              Learn how to get rid of naysayers with these 10 Ways to Ignore the Naysayers and Achieve Your Dreams.

              4. Being with People Who Don’t Appreciate You

              Haven’t all of us been in this situation before? Trying to please people who don’t appreciate us? Bending over backwards to be there for people when they are never there for us?

              While we give without expectations of return, we need to draw a line with people who don’t value us because these people damage our souls.

              Stop spending time with people who don’t appreciate you, and spend more time with people who do instead.

              Unsure who you should get rid of? Learn about it here: 5 Kinds of Toxic People That You Need to Get Rid of Now

              5. Smoking

              Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death globally.[4]

              In just the United States alone, about 500,000 deaths are attributed to smoking-related diseases annually. A recent study estimated that as much as one-third of China’s male population will have significantly shortened life-spans due to smoking! Gender-wise, male and female smokers lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life respectively — that’s over a decade of life right there.[5]

              Not only that, smoking causes pre-mature skin aging (i.e. wrinkles), yellowing of teeth, bad breath, and worse of all — jeopardy of the health of people around you, including your loved ones. Studies have shown that non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk to many of the health problems associated with direct smoking.[6]

              Smoking risks

                6. Excessive Drinking

                All of us know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for us, but do you know how bad it really is?

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                According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking too much — be it on a single occasion or over time — can seriously damage your health:[7]

                • Brain problems: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, making it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
                • Heart diseases: Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle, Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat, stroke, high blood pressure
                • Liver diseases: Steatosis or fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis
                • Pancreas problems: Pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
                • Different types of cancer: Mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, breast

                If you drink a lot, perhaps cutting it out right away will be tough. Cut down the number of glasses you drink each time, followed by the number of times you drink a week.

                If need be, seek help from an AA group — you aren’t alone in this. Change starts from today.

                7. Eating Junk Food (Including Diet Soda)

                Junk food — they are everywhere in our society today. From McDonald’s, to KFC, to Burger King, to 24-hour takeouts, junk food such as fries, highly processed burgers and sodas has become a staple in our society today.

                If you think, “Hey, but junk food is tasty!”, think again:

                A study by Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny suggests that junk food consumption alters brain activity in a way similar to addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin.[8]

                “After many weeks with unlimited access to junk food, the pleasure centers of rat brains became desensitized, requiring more food for pleasure.”

                And you wonder why you seem to crave fast food when you just had some the day before?

                While it may not be possible to remove junk food completely from our diet right away, we can reduce our junk food consumption starting today. Instead of soda, opt for a fruit juice (fresh juice, not the carbonated kind) or mineral water. Instead of fries, switch to mashed potato, a salad, or rice (many food outlets allow for this today). Instead of a fried meat patty, go for a grilled one.

                Where possible, opt for healthy food joints like salad bars and delis as opposed to fast food outlets. Every little step goes a long way.

                Here’re some healthy snacks ideas for you: 15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home

                8. Eating Too Much Red Meat

                There has been conclusive evidence that consumption of red meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer; and suggestive evidence that it increases the risk of oesophageal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and endometrial cancer.

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                In addition, some studies have linked consumption of large quantities of red meat with breast cancer, stomach cancer, lymphoma, bladder cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer![9]

                Personally, I’m a vegetarian so I don’t consume red meat, but for those of you who consume red meat, do watch out and limit your intake — better still, cut it out of your diet. World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting intake of red meat to less than 300g (11 oz) cooked weight per week, “very little, if any of which to be processed.”

                Of if you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian, check out this guide: 5 Practical Tips For Starting a Vegetarian Lifestyle

                9. Watching Too Much TV

                I stopped watching TV since eight years ago and I have never regretted it. Every once in a while I will switch on the telly to see what is on, and then I will switch it off because it’s just the same boring shtick over and over again.

                Watching TV, particularly well-written dramas, can be a good way to unwind. However, remember that TV isn’t your life.

                Spending three hours every night watching TV will not change your life for the better. Rather, using that time to reflect on your life, take stock, and take action on your goals will.

                It’s not easy to remove TV from your daily routine right away, but follow these 6 Steps To Remove TV From Your Life.

                10. Being Late

                Not only is being late being rude to others, it also means that you’re always rushing from one place to another, playing catch up in your agenda, and having to apologize to every person you meet.

                Stop being late and not being punctual, but practice being early instead. Target to arrive 15 minutes earlier before any appointment and bring along something to do in those 15 minutes (or longer if the other person turns out to be late). Then you can stop playing catch up and stay ahead in life.

                Learn more tips about how to be more punctual here: How to Be On Time Every Time

                11. Being in Bad Relationships

                Are you always dating the wrong guys/girls? Do you end up with jerks all the time? Well, you may not be able to stop yourself from meeting bad partners but you can certainly stop yourself from furthering contact with them, spending time with them, or even… entering into a relationship with them.

                I used to invest myself in this guy who was nothing but toxic for me. After a good five months of experiencing nothing but getting burned over and over again, I realized that he was a total waste of my time and I deserved better. I decided to cut him off, and it was soon after that I met my soulmate.

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                Learn about why you shouldn’t stay in a bad relationship and how to deal with it if you’re in one: Why Trying Hard to Stay in an Unhappy Relationship Is Not Love, but Fear

                12. Leaving Things to the Last Minute

                Burning the midnight oil isn’t fun — it’s exhausting.

                Those of you who got through college by burning the midnight oil would have learned this the hard way. Not only is it damaging for your body, it is also mentally draining as you’re constantly in a hyper-tense mode, feeling anxious about whether you can finish your work on time.

                Start today on a new note. Rather than react to your deadlines, be proactive about them by planning ahead, identifying what needs to be done for the week, and getting things done in advance.

                By staying ahead of your tasks, you can also use your extra time to plan ahead in your life and get more things done.

                Take a look at this guide and learn how to stop procrastinating: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

                13. Focusing on the Negatives

                In every situation, there are two ways you can react: zoom down to the problem areas and crib about how things aren’t the way you want, or celebrate the areas that are going well and work on making everything better.

                Many of us see the importance of doing the latter but in practice, we do the former. Why though? Criticizing and focusing on the negatives is easy but it doesn’t empower nor inspire us to be better.

                Make a change — for every negative encounter you run into, I challenge you to identify three things that are good about it. Practice doing this for one week, and by the end of the week you’ll find that your first instinct is to think positive, not negative.

                And here’re even more ways to help you stay positive: 11 Tips for Maintaining your Positive Attitude

                The Bottom Line

                So here you find the 13 most common bad habits and their consequences on your mind and body. The good news’ you can quit them all.

                Just spot out your own bad habits and take my suggestions to quit them. Then you’ll find your life a lot healthier and happier!

                Need more tips to break your bad habits? Check out these articles:

                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                Reference

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