Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Movement - Top 5 Things to Remember

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

When most people think of movement, they relate it to their ability to get around, to physically move. Although that is an important aspect of movement, it is also directly correlated and required for many other functions such as the transfer of nutrients throughout the body and the elimination of toxins. Digestion, respiration, even thinking, communication and thoughts require movement in order to function properly. A person's external movement, that is their ability to physically move, is a mirror of the internal movement within the body.

Being able to move freely is often something that people start to pay attention to once it becomes a problem. The ideal is to ensure that movement, of all types, is part of your everyday life. Of course, if you have any specific health concerns it is important to work with your naturopathic doctor or health care provider and get their guidance on the types of exercises that are best for you.  In general, the top five things to remember about movement are:

#1: Just Move

If you are not that active than the important thing is just start moving. The first type of movement that is important is simply moving your joints through their normal range of motion. This is where basic stretching comes into play. It is important not to overdo it.  Start slow and work on increasing the amount of movement you engage in on a daily basis.  Here are some links to general stretching exercises:

  • Morning stretching:
  • General stretching for seniors:

After you have got the stretching part down pat, the next step is to start walking as it is generally the safest form of movement for most people. Shaking is also a wonderful way to get the body more limber and to "wake it up" from weeks, months or even years of being sedentary.

If your health conditions impact your ability to walk or do all the stretching routines, it is important to engage in movement activities in your chair or on the bed. Stretching any part of the body will provide benefits.

#2: Move Often
Research shows that people that have an active life are generally more fit than those that have a sedentary life and exercise intensely three or four a week for a couple of hours. Bottom line, move often on a daily basis. You don't have to engage in intense exercise routines to reap the benefits,  just  avoid sitting or lying down (other than sleeping) for long periods of time.

#3: Move All The Joints

Every joint has its ideal range of motion. Take time on a regular basis to make sure that you can still reach above your head and behind your back, that you get down on the floor and up again, that you bend forward and backwards with ease.  The goal is to move until all movement is effortless.

Joint health is based on "use-it-or-lose-it." Too often people don't use their full of motion. They don't practice getting on the floor and getting up. They don't reach for things as they have stools and devices that make everything easy. The result is that they lose range-of-motion over time. Maintaining full range-of-motion is pretty natural if you use it.  Regaining range-of-motion once it is lost is a bit more challenging.

Poor posture, whether standing, sitting or sleeping can also impact a person's ability to move their joints freely, especially in the upper body. If you want your joints to move freely and comfortably, you need to provide them with a posture that is aligned.  Weight-lifting and occupations that build up the upper body can negatively affect the range-of-motion of the arms and neck. From an overall health perspective, it is never advisable to choose strength over range-of-motion or flexibility.

#4: Choose Movements That Balance Your Life

The best type of movement or exercise depends on your lifestyle and your job. If you have a job where you are sedentary and sitting a lot than it is best to choose an exercise such as walking to work out the tension in the joints or engage in a more rigorous exercise routine such as dancing, cardiovascular exercises, or movement classes.

If your daily life is hectic, you may find that yoga, pilates and exercise programs that encourage the body to relax and settle are more suited for you and are more beneficial in helping you achieve health.

Tai chi, Qi Gong and other forms of slow, continual movement exercises are ideal for most people. These forms of exercises look easy, but they actually provide a great cardio-workout, help with building muscle tone and most importantly work to integrate all aspect of the body and improvement overall movement, coordination and balance.

There is no one type of exercise that is suited to everyone. The goal is to ensure that your movement and exercise regimens work on all types of movement - flexibility, balance, cardiovascular health, strength training and range-of-motion.

#5: Balance and Flexibility

When many people think of exercise they thing of weight training or intense cardio.  Although there is value to those forms of exercise, if you are truly looking at exercise as a way of achieving long-term health I encourage you to put the greatest emphasis on balance and flexibility.

As a person ages one of the risks to health is falling. The better your balance and flexibility, the less likely you will fall.

A great, simple exercise is to practice standing on one foot. Most falling occurs because your weight shifts to one side and you can't compensate fast enough. Being able to stand on one-foot for 5 to 10 seconds will help not only your balance, but your bone density as well.

As with any exercise regimen, it is important to start slow. Check with your naturopathic doctor if you are concerned about being injured or if you want specific guidance on what is best for you.

To learn more about the benefits of movement and different types of movement checkout

2015 Guide to Health Series

Check out the other topics on our Guide to Health Series. Each month we will he highlighting the top five things you need to know about each topic. The topics that will be covered include:

March - Movement
April - Sleep
May - Healthy Eating
June - Hygiene and the Ability to Eliminate Toxins
July - Alignment and Posture
August - Alkaline lifestyle and personal care products
September - The Power of the Mind
October - Time Spent Outdoors
November - Addressing Environmental Factors
December - Healthy Relationships

As part of our Guide to Health Series, we will be offering weekly tweets and in-house seminars on each topic. If you are unable to attend our seminars, we will be providing video highlights of some of the seminars on our website.  Follow us on twitter  for weekly updates.

If you have any questions about breathing that you would like us to address, please contact us at We will be posting all answers on the "Breathing" page on our website.

Let us know if you are joining us on the Guide to Health Series by sending us an email or by hitting the "like" logo on our blog.