Movement doesn't have to be exercise.
We live in a world where “life” is mostly sedentary, and “exercise” is the one or two hours a day we set aside to fit in some movement. While that movement is beneficial, research shows that this approach isn’t meeting our bodies’ needs for movement.
A Movement-Rich Life is one that:
Keeps all of you moving (arms, legs, even your microbiome)
Gives you large doses of “Vitamin Nature” and “Vitamin Community”
Adds movement back into your everyday life
Oftentimes, getting more movement can be as simple as making small changes to your habits and environment. This is how Nutritious Movement founder Katy Bowman made her house over for more movement.
Take a look at how Katy and some other nutritious movers keep moving all day long. And we always love seeing how you’ve been inspired to move more—use the hashtag #stackyourlife on Instagram so we can see how you’re getting it done! Check out some FAQs on what a dynamic home is like below.
Katy Bowman, M.S.
I get movement in first thing in the morning. I walk with a friend, so that my “movement time” is also my “coffee with a friend” date. Stacking my life this way, getting movement and something else I need/love to do, is key to fitting it all in. I always wear minimal shoes. A wide, flexible, and totally flat shoe means when I move, more of me is moving! At home, our family uses low tables and the floor instead of sitting in couches and chairs. When I am working, I have a dynamic workstation (I don’t work in the same position all the time), and I take movement breaks at my desk. While I am home, I use objects in and around my home to facilitate movement and I break up my workday with chores. Also, I take calls and do errands on foot, often at the same time. The bulk of our family time (before and after school, weekends, holidays) is spent outside, moving. We typically walk wherever we go—if we’re not going to walk the whole way there, then we park at a distance and walk the rest of the way...
I’m Jeremy, a vegan chef who likes to barefoot garden, roll around with my dogs, and go for long hikes with my sweetheart. At the store, when I am waiting for someone to write a check, I am stretching my calves. In the early morning, I am fortunate to have a state park close by to walk in. When I am home working in the garden, I carry lake water to the sweet potatoes. I say, “hoses are for hosers.” While I am making dinner, I am seated on the floor while chopping to get a quad stretch. For my lawn, I use a people-powered push mower.
My name is Melanie! As a chemotherapy infusion nurse, I am lucky enough to have a naturally dynamic workplace that requires movement. I squat, stand, bend, reach, walk, and lift all day long. I focus on good alignment and I try to vary my movement choices. I find giving injections a great opportunity to get down into a deep squat position instead of opting to sit on a stool. Since I live downtown, I walk to and from work every day come rain, shine, or chilling North Dakota cold temperatures. At home, I created a rock mat, I spend a lot of time cooking at this mat, which allows me to stack my movement. I also find ways to process foods by hand when I can. Grinding my own spices not only adds a new layer of movement to my day, it also adds a fresher flavor profile to a meal. I opt to sit on the floor as much as possible. On the floor I can sit in different positions and stretch out my body.
I’m Carol. Brush & Balance is how I get my teeth clean and I am working up to the single leg brush! I do a daily hang after every bathroom stop. I use my favorite African stool for eating, working and stretching out on the floor where I am overlooking my backyard rainforest. Banyan trees have the best roots for hanging & swinging around! In my living room there is plenty of room to calf stretch, top of the foot stretch, pelvic list and bosu balance.
I’m Zayd. Even though there is furniture around, the better choice for me is to relax on the floor. Inside or out this provides me with constant mobility and peace throughout the day. No matter where I am, if I think outside the box, I can find opportunities to move naturally. While in a parking lot, I can train my balance too! Movement, if only a single step up on a bench, is not only an action we take but a metaphor for life. We should always take the steps to rise higher in life. That is what it is all about.
While I am waiting for the eye doctor, there are plenty of chairs but no need to sit. Bonus points earned for looking out the window. My kids can never resist a path of brain candy, walking on stone surfaces and boy do kids need sensory input! We love rough housing, flips and acrobat tricks. The connection we get from this kind of play is fantastic. Everyone gets to use their strengths. Also, we have berry-picking play dates. Walking, squatting, moving for food. Showing the kids where and how berries happen. At these times our community of parents and kids are together and dynamically sharing relationships between families. Have a short list for the store? I carry everything in my arms through the store while also tracking my kids!
More great ideas from other nutritious movers
Movement-Rich Life FAQs!
What about schools? I’m worried about my children not moving well.
I agree that a fundamental problem with our schooling systems is that they don’t provide adequate movement. For most of us, this is where our sedentary habits were fully developed. We’ve decided to put our elementary-school-aged children in an all-outdoor nature school, where they've been since day one. These programs aren’t available everywhere yet, so we’ve done a lot of work to support this non-profit by being on the board, fundraising, etc. Other ideas include supplementing traditional schools with after-school nature programs, and spending the bulk of your weekend family time in nature, moving. For more ideas on how to get kids moving, read the “Kids and Family Movement” section on my blog.
What do you do about guests who are elderly or disabled?
The great thing about a dynamic living space is that it’s customizable. You can keep a couple of foldable chairs and bring them out when they’re needed. We have a cushioned window seat that anyone can sit on if they want, or they can use a variety of bolsters and blankets to create a seating arrangement that’s perfect and comfortable for them. Check out the tour of my house so you can see the options we keep on hand.
I’m all in—what’s the fastest way to create a movement-rich life?
The fastest approach is a whole-body, whole-lifestyle one, where you combine “stacking your life” (read this blog post for an explanation) with key exercises to mobilize as much of your body as possible. Build Your Exercise Program to start moving your own body more, and use our Movement-Rich Life resources to learn how community and nature deepen every movement practice. Use this page and Katy’s Instagram for more inspiration on building movement into your day.
What’s the easiest place to start?
We’ve all spent too much time in our lives in constrictive shoes, so mobilizing your feet will give you a ton of movement bang for your buck. Want five simple exercises for healthy feet? Try our Fix Your Feet DVD or download. If you’d rather read, try Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief. For a more in-depth foot exercise program, our video course Whole Body Biomechanics: Feet, Knees, and Hips is your best bet.
Why do you live like this? Aren’t you taking a step backward by getting rid of your furniture?
I know, getting rid of your furniture seems freaky, but right now the United States alone spends over 100 BILLION dollars on obesity and other ailments stemming from poor movement habits. Less furniture simply means more movement, more muscular work, and more calories expended while I’m living my regular life. I, like you, don’t have time to exercise more. I have two kids, a full-time career, a marriage, friendships, and hobbies. I’ve learned that I can stack my life—get movement during my time at work, with friends and with family. I spend lots of time outdoors and, in my early 40s, I’ve never felt better.
If you’re asking for a more scientific answer, read Move Your DNA, which explains how your body is affected by every single movement you do—not just the ones you do at the gym but the ones you do (and don’t do) on the couch and at work, looking at a screen and even when you sleep!