In March 2020, at the beginning of our shelter-in-place orders, I wrote an article, “Keep Moving in Place,” that gave a broad overview of all the places movement could “fit” into a home. Close to six months later, many of us are finding ourselves moving less than we were a year ago. This is a problem, given that movement might be one of the most proactive preventive measures we can take when it comes to keeping our bodies and families well. This “Dynamic at Home” series includes a handful of articles, each diving more deeply into individual tips from my first article, providing more images, examples, and considerations. Find other articles in the series linked at the bottom of this page.
Quick question: Where are your arms right now? Are they down by your sides? How many hours do you spend with your arms down by your sides? Even if your whole body exercises regularly, how do your arms move while doing so (walking, cycling, running, Zumba, etc.)? Do your arms move? How/in which direction are they moving, exactly?
That was more than one question, sorry!
What I’m trying to help you see is 1) how little your arms move in a day and 2) when they do move, how narrow of a range they might move within. You can read an entire chapter on this (Mouse Hands to Monkey Arms) in Move Your DNA, but what we could all use is more arm movement and more specifically, arm movement that gets our arms overhead. In fact, why don’t you take a break and reach your arms out to the side and then up overhead right now.
Once you’ve moved your arms differently for a bit, consider what you can do to remind yourself to do this more often, especially when in your house (which, for many of us, is where we’re spending more time).
Your entire house, if it’s conventional in set-up, is designed to NOT move you. Here’s the thing: YOU HAVE ALREADY DECIDED YOU WANT TO MOVE. You have both the desire and intention. All you’re missing is an environment that reminds you of what you’ve already decided to do. If you want to move more with less planning and will power, you have to change your environment.
Take a tour of my dynamic office set up
I just did my first Instagram Live, for Maria Shriver’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. Watch it below to take a tour of the Nutritious Movement shipping offices to see how we’ve set up them up for more movement, including how I fit in my personal “must have” movement—HANGING!
Personally, our family’s saving grace when it comes to all of us feeling moved despite more time at home is our “hanging station.”
What’s a hanging station?
A hanging station is an area of your house or yard where hanging from a bar—or branch or whatever—is possible. Bonus points if you have to pass through this area multiple times per day, i.e. a hanging station in the basement will move you only when you decide to go down to the basement to move, whereas a pull-up bar in the bathroom or kitchen doorway is likely to prompt you to move your arms more often as you pass through the area. (If you're new to the idea of hanging and want a plan to strengthen your arms in this way, check out Hanging and Swinging 101.)
Here’s a list of things to buy or make that will help you add this movement to your home-life.
Doorway pull up bar
Rings (plastic or wood)
Free-standing pull up bar
Strong ladder, hung horizontally (read more about all you can move with a ladder!)
Suspension trainers (like TRX)
Finger strength/rock climber's training board
Please note that setting up anything for you or your family to hang on takes certain knowledge. In many cases pre-fab items come with instructions but when you're making things yourself, reach out to local builders or carpenters for assistance to ensure you've made or hung your items correctly.
Reaching stations are also fantastic
You probably won’t convert your entire home into a “primate habitat” (although, SURPRISE! It already is) but you can, in addition to one area/apparatus to hang on, set up reaching stations at every doorway using a top technology: Post-it Notes. If you’re not hanging yet, then reaching stations are key!
You want to get in on the Post-it Note action because these are essentially a form of TIME TRAVEL in this case. Your current self is sending clues to your future self. That’s exciting, right? You always wanted to star in a sci-fi movie (or is that just me?) and now you can.
Put a sign in multiple doorways you know you’ll be walking through and send a message to your future self to get those arms up and reach as you walk through.
Kids and reaching, hanging, climbing and swinging
If you’ve got kids, spaces that indicate and facilitate monkeying around are a must. Below are pictures of how friends, family, and readers have created more dynamic homes for the children in their lives as well as some additional ideas for robust arm movement.
I said it once, but I'm writing it here again because it's important (and we live in what seem like "skim-reading and quickly applying" times): setting up anything for you or your family to hang on takes certain knowledge. In many cases pre-fab items come with instructions but when you're making things yourself, reach out to local builders or carpenters for assistance to ensure you've made or hung your items correctly.
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Inspired by our indoor monkey bars, my sister's family put these up. Installed Christmas Eve, the kids woke to these down their hallway (a better use of space than ours, those of you in an apartment or small home). That was two years ago and her kids became wicked strong, spending--I kid you not--two to three hours a day on these, every day that first year. And I love them as I can throw down a few swings and climbs when I'm here which is two to three times a week. Taking some close-up pics so you can see how they were installed. Working to find an architect who can draw some plans to share for all bars I've posted on here! #MoveYourDNA #movetheirdna #dynamiclivingspace
If you're new to hanging, make sure to read Hanging and Swinging 101. Once your hanging space is set up, make sure you've got a "Dynamic at Home" matching dynamic work/school space, and check out our other Dynamic At Home series posts "Sitting Well" and "You're The P.E. Teacher Now!" For more on how to get kids moving more, read through our top resources here.