Everyone can agree that regular exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. But working up a sweat at the gym isn’t enough on its own. If you work out an hour or so at the gym, then spend the rest of your day in a recliner watching TV, you will not reap sustainable benefits. How could you? You would only be dedicating four percent of your time to physical activity.
The better alternative is to schedule tasks that are enjoyable or necessary, and that require you to move around a little – otherwise known as purposeful movement.
This logic is backed by ideology of the Blue Zones, a term coined by author Dan Buettner in his bestselling book, “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.” Blue Zones are areas of the world where people have adopted lifestyle choices that have led to remarkable longevity. Working in partnership with gerontologists, Buettner studied these lifestyles and cultures to define the “Power 9” – nine traits shared by Blue Zones inhabitants that promote longevity.
Together the Power 9 traits address all components of healthy living, from cultivating a close community and eating healthfully to engaging in purposeful activities. When it comes to physical activity, there’s a clear directive: Move naturally. People who live in Blue Zones use their daily activities to subtly create functional movement throughout the day. They garden, prepare meals, clean their houses, and travel by foot.
Many of the purposeful movements of Blue Zones inhabitants are born of necessity. They must grow their food and care for their livestock in order to survive. As residents of the cosmopolitan Tri-City Community, most of us do not share these burdens. We enjoy modern conveniences that allow us the flexibility of leisure time. The key is to use these advantages to invest in creating and enjoying the best lives we can.
Incorporating purposeful movement is easy and can be done gradually. Instead of taking time to order food or other goods online, walk to a store and peruse the aisles. When you feel stressed, spend time doing yoga, meditating, or walking in nature. Make an effort to visit friends and schedule active outings; a shared walk, hike, or other active excursion will have far greater benefits than meeting for lunch or a drink. Build healthy routines, such as swimming or surfing, joining an exercise class, starting a garden, or going dancing – the possibilities are endless! The key is to be purposeful, move naturally, and encourage your loved ones to do the same.