1. Sit on the floor
Sitting on the floor engages our postural muscles and causes us to switch positions often. This simple activity will do wonders for opening up your hip mobility and creating a more stable and reflexive core.
2. Put your mattress on the floor.
The amount of time we spend in a certain position (frequency) plays a huge role in determining our function. Our body will adapt to positions and forces that it experiences most often. Putting your mattress on the floor is another way to introduce more squatting into your every day routine. These kind of simple environment modifications end up going a long way, because you aren’t changing your habit (you will still get into and out of bed), you’re just changing how you do it.
3. Squatty potty.
Another way to add squatting into your day, but it also sets you up in the anatomically correct position to do your business. Well worth the investment.
4. Mobile workstation.
Standing workstations have been all the rage recently, but what about mobile workstations? We weren’t built to stand all day long, just as we weren’t built to sit in a chair all day. Kelly Starett of MobilityWOD.com has a great saying,
“Your best position is your next position.”
Set up a couple of areas around your home or office were you can go to get work done. Maybe one is on the floor, one is on a counter, one is on carpet, another on a hard surface. The idea is that you change venues often (at least every hour) in order to engage in more movement and keep your body fresh.
Walking IS your aerobic foundation. We spend the first year of our lives preparing to be on two feet, and it is a skill we should appreciate! Not only are we build to walk, but walking is a movement reset! It connects our limbs through our core, is a contralateral pattern, and keep our eyes on the horizon (activating the vestibular system). Let your arms swing naturally forward and back like you mean business on your walk, keep your gaze forward, and you’ll be amazed at how good you feel.
Check out this awesome article on Mark’s Daily Apple for more ideas on how to make your walks more engaging.
6. Ease in to barefoot.
With the recent lash back against Vibram Fivefingers, many might be wondering the efficacy of going barefoot? Is it dangerous? Are there any actual benefits? Yes and yes. It’s dangerous in that our feet have spent so long inside of shoes that limit muscle activation and ROM of the small joint of the foot that going straight back to barefoot is like Bench Pressing 400 lbs the day you get out of an arm cast. Your body needs time to redevelop the muscles and the motor control of the feet! If you simply shed the shoes and go about your normal routine, disaster will soon follow.
However, there are many benefits of learning to be barefoot. Not only do we reengage with how our feet are designed to work, but we improve kinesthetic feedback and get all of the natural gait reflexes built into our feet turned on. I.E. You’ll start to move better because you actually get all of the feedback the environment is giving you. Not only that, but there is something special about walking barefoot through the grass and feeling connected to the earth.
The key is to start slow. Like really slow. Like maybe 5 minutes at a time, always stopping before you get sore, and never progressing by more than a few minutes each day. And this is walking, not running, mind you. You had better be able to walk for most of your day barefoot before you even think about running. And then you have got to back off again too, starting with 20-50m at a time. It’s that serious. But it’s also so great that it’s worth it.
Breathing is the foundation of everything else you do. And it can improve your fitness. The breathe is the one system we have conscious control over that can affect our autonomic nervous system. You can experience this first hand right now. Take several short, harsh inhales and quick exhales and you feel your body respond as if it is about to deal with a threat – heart rate and the force of contraction will increase. Breathe slow and deep and the opposite will occur. A lower resting HR is in general associated with a higher level of fitness. Being able to keep our HR below the anaerobic threshold during periods of stress enables us to continue to have access to higher motor function – something that is critical for MMA athletes and the like.
Breathing appropriately (through the diaphragm) will also help balance O2/CO2 levels, support trunk stability and make sure your pelvic floor is functioning properly. Practice breathing in and out through the nose throughout your day, pausing as much as able in between your exhale and your next inhale (Buteyko Method). This is a simple act that can literally change your life!
8. Learn a new physical skill.
Part of fitness is the process of motor learning. When was the last time you learned a new skill or engaged in a new physical activity? I often hear people respond that (insert martial art/yoga/strength training/sport/etc.) helped them feel so much better, almost regardless of the activity. My 2 cents is that doing something you weren’t doing before, going through the process of novelty to familiarity to competence, is an experience your brain and your body crave! Our modern movement spectrum is so narrow that any variety is bound to have some benefit. Find something that will keep you engaged in the process of learning and exploring your bodies capabilities!
9. Start a garden.
Gardening is not only physical work, but you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor (quite literally)! Start your own garden, or if you feel over your head, seek out a community garden you can volunteer at. Nothing tastes as good as fresh produce you’ve nurtured with your own hands.
10. Play made-up games regularly.
This might be the most important one. When did we stop playing games? And why? When did the floor become solid instead of hot lava? Why did that furnace stop being a giant skeleton that only woke up when no one was watching? Play has so many physical, social, and emotional benefits that it would take a dissertation to even scratch the surface. So let’s not go down that road – you don’t need a reason to play other than you want to. So make up an adventure! Take your kids along (or friends). Toss, turn, and tumble. Imagine. You’ll be surprised where you end up.