Exercise — or, as I prefer to think of it, movement — is important, and many of us don’t get enough of it. Gone are the days when the vast majority of the population had to put in long, physical days to stay fed and/or make a living. Instead, many of us spend our days sitting at desks, moving little more than our fingers. If physical movement isn’t inherently a significant part of your life, it’s necessary to be intentional about incorporating it.
You probably already know that regular exercise of our muscles is necessary to build strength, increase flexibility and stamina, and help prevent injury. You may be aware that certain types of exercise are also good for helping the heart in good condition and ensuring we can breathe freely.
You might not know that exercise is also important to the immune system. The lymphatic system is designed to transport fluid (lymph) throughout the body, acting as a filtration system, helping identify bacteria and deploying the immune response. But this system is meant to flow upward — and it doesn’t have a pump! So regular movement is essential to enable the surrounding muscles to push the lymph throughout the body.
It may be simplest for you to incorporate movement into your day by engaging in what we conventionally think of as “exercise” — an aerobic workout, a spin class, lifting weights, etc. But movement doesn’t necessarily have to happen this way. Tasks like scrubbing the bathtub or the car, pulling weeds, or hanging clothes on the line all get the body moving. And even more conventional exercises, like squats or jumping jacks, can be done in small snippets throughout the day instead of as one long workout, if that is more realistic for you.
Mamas, especially, check your core! If you have a separation of the abdominal muscles (“diastasis recti,” common after abdominal surgery or pregnancy), certain exercises can make this worse, rather than better. Fit2B has some great information about this, and tummy-safe exercises if you need help getting started.