Pick One Move

Pick One Move

There are many ways to approach moving more. One of those ways is to pick one movement or movement habit to work on. This approach can be helpful if you’re easily overwhelmed or simply like to keep your focus on one thing for a month at a time.

Maybe you want to commit to a daily walk or work towards doing a pull-up. Maybe you want to get up and down from the floor with fewer points of contact, or maybe you just want to sit more comfortably once you’re down there. Some years back I decided I would work on accomplishing my first chin-up. Another time I spent a month working on squatting, another time was doing a 20-mile walk, and another was jumping-up to a 20” high surface. My movement for the present month is a yoga posture called skandasana, which–unlike other poses that I flow through during a class–really challenges me. In short, there’s no right or wrong movements to pick.

Here’s the approach I am using to practice this move over the next month, i.e. tips you can use to improve the exercise you choose.

1) Give the move 15 exclusive minutes every day.

This is straight-up focused practice time, to be done every day, no exception. Even if you have to haul yourself out of bed because you forgot. Fifteen minutes is something we can just about all spare (and if not, then “figure out why you don’t have 15 minutes to move” is your first assignment). No matter the move you can probably find a free tutorial online or at the library. Or film yourself doing the practice once and then follow yourself every day. Ask your family* and friends to remind you, or better yet—to join you.

2) Break the bigger movement you want to do into smaller pieces as necessary.

Most exercises can be broken down into component parts. If you’re struggling with one big move—e.g. hanging from a bar for a minute, crossing the monkey bars, doing a 6’ jump, or squatting with greater ease—break it down into different exercises that prepare your parts. (P.S. This is essentially what we do at Nutritious Movement. We help you figure out which parts are doing what so you can troubleshoot and train to bring all your parts on board.) Can you break your move into three smaller movements you can practice to keep you on track? For skandasana, I’m working on moves that target my deeper calf muscles (the soleuseseses or solei, d’uh) and my adductors. However, even if you mostly work on the elements of your move, make sure you’re regularly attempting the full movement to the best of your ability too. This is how you fit the sand in between the stones.

3) Figure out three places the move fits into non-exercise time.

Fifteen minutes compared to no minutes at all is great, but as I explain in Move Your DNA, you’re physically adapting to what you do most of the time, not only to those focused minutes. What to do about it? Fit your movement into those times when you’re not exercising but doing other daily activities. For example, I’ve swapped my three favorite floor sitting positions (the ones I already do well and don’t challenge me at all) for one that has elements of skandasana. I’m literally writing this while holding my new ground-sitting position. Putting your movement into your sitting time is not super-challenging, focused practice—I am more focused on writing than I am on moving in this case—but at 20 to 30 minutes per “sit-n-stretch,” I am still moving my body toward my chosen movement goal. I’m on track, even while sitting here.

Where can your movement fit into your daily work time or commute? Chore time? Family time? Leisure time? How can you modify your environment, even a teeny bit, to get your move in more minutes each day?

4) Pick a new move every month or so.

At the end of my 30 days with skandasana, I don’t expect to be much more able to do the full move than I am able to do now. Doing the full move is not the point. The point is that this move is challenging me in a novel way and I want to give that challenge my attention and perhaps make it easier. Many of our adaptations to moving more are barely perceptible, but this doesn’t mean the movement is barely valuable. There’s no wasted time when it comes to moving more.

So, unless you’re a competitive athlete or have a broader long-term goal when it comes to a particular movement, vary up your movement-target regularly. This keeps you moving different parts of your body in different ways and it keeps you having fun learning about yourself.

*My kids (now ages nine and ten) love when I start my whatever fifteen-minutes-of-flurry I’m going to do. It gets the entire family frantically doing push-ups, pull-ups, jumps, cartwheels and stretches as competition. This period has been dubbed “Buff Before Bed” which is only outdone by the more rare, but equally intense “Buff Before Breakfast.” Photos have been prohibited, sorry.

Not sure what to work on? Here are some ideas with linked resources to get you started:

Improve your sit and rise score
Sit on the floor more comfortably
Cross the monkey bars
Work on walking without pain
Work on your jumping
Strengthen your feet

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