5 Little Ninjas

Movement, Daily, Exercise

Cute… and very good at what they do.

Sometimes, you have to make do with what you have, no matter how “little” that is. It just might turn out it is not that “little” after all, once you get moving.

If you are like most people nowadays, that means you work a mostly desk-bound job, commute for a sizable chunk of your day, don’t get enough sleep, drink too much coffee and in general consume too much NOT FOOD items. Oh, and you have precious little time to exercise the way you know you should.

That’s why when I saw this image of five little ninjas, I was inspired to remind us all about the ways in which we can sneak exercise into our days without requiring big changes to our lifestyles. (As I wrote this post, I was also reminded of some ads for smoking replacement products that featured ninjas, so I can’t claim to be very original. But bear with me. My ninjas are cuter. And more healthy.)

So let’s call this the 5 Little Ninjas of Daily Exercise. (5LNDE for short in the rest of the text.)

Just like real ninjas (supposing such persons really exist), the 5LNDE are sneaky, which means that others might not even notice they are there.

The 5LNDE are also quiet; they don’t require big noisy equipment, or loud grunts on your part.

And because they are little ninjas, they might not appear deadly, but they certainly can make a difference if you do them often enough. Don’t be fooled.

So, without any further ado, here they are:

Walk Ninja – The very essence of stealth and quiet. Simply walking more on a daily basis will make a difference in your muscles and bones, and even though it does not burn many calories, it burns more than sitting and doing nothing in your car or in public transit. Go for a walk at lunch time, have a walking meeting. It does not require any extra time; just make it part of your daily getting from point A to point B. Let this little ninja sneak into your daily habits.

Stairs Ninja – Also very quiet, and can also be done as part of your normal movements during the day (instead of escalators/elevators, for instance). Or use a break or part of lunch time to sneak into the stairwell of your building, and go up and down for a while. 5 minutes. Very good for your muscles and bones, and burns a decent amount of calories, without making you sweat too much. Good ninja to have on your team.

Getting Up Ninja – To go talk to someone, or get water; any pretense is good to get up from your chair. Sitting is really, really bad for us. So the more often you can interrupt a sitting session, the better. Best still if you can work standing, but that is hard to pull off. The most effective, and sneaky, approach to this is simply to stand up once in a while. At least every hour, preferably more. The more active your day becomes, the better off you’ll be.

Squats Ninja – This may seem strange to witnesses, but when you have a moment, perhaps in conjunction with the previous little ninja, go down and then back up again from a standing position. Do 10 at a time at first. Slowly, while breathing. 20 is better. Full amplitude is better than partial; however, just doing the sitting to standing squat, and back down again, without using your arms to help yourself in and out of the chair, does the trick. It only takes a few minutes, so you can do it multiple times during the day. Easier if you have a closed office, but this little ninja can be active anywhere, without being overly conspicuous. And it does wonders for your legs.

Push-ups Ninja – Yes, I know, push-ups are hard. Harder than squats, and stairs. Perhaps even harder than running. But guess what? That’s precisely why they are so good. We systematically under-use our muscles, which means our bones have no reason to remain strong, and our base metabolism slows down because the muscles are smaller. Time to change that. You don’t need to do a whole lot; maybe 5 at a time to start. But do them a few times per day, and you’ll soon see results. Maybe not at the office, though I dare you to start a “lunch push-up club” and recruit a few co-workers to share the pain, er, I mean, fun. Do them first thing in the morning (it is very much like eating a frog), and in the evening. It takes almost no time, so it is the quickest of the ninjas. But just as effective.

That’s it. The 5LNDE.

Make them part of your team in the fight for better fitness and health.

Image from Pixabay

A (first) simple prescription for moving more

My goal is to help people move more. Sustainably. So that we will all be more fit, and ultimately more healthy. Or, perhaps more accurately, as healthy as we can be.

Let’s face it: with a few exceptions, we are all far too sedentary. We have used our tremendous brainpower over the centuries to devise ways to save ourselves much in terms of efforts and physical labour.

So it is only natural that I propose some ways of moving more. “About time this blog starts being useful”, you might even think!

If you are hoping for a silver bullet, a no-effort required method that has guaranteed success, you will be disappointed.

If you are hoping for a simple way to make a big difference, well, then, there is hope. But it requires some effort nevertheless.

I’d like to propose a first tookit, a prescription of sort, to get moving more:

1) Move every hour.

Whether at work or at home, we tend to sit way more than is healthy. What you should do is 10 minutes of moving for every 50 of sitting. At least 5 minutes, if you think 10 is too much. The moving part does not need to be very dynamic. Go for a walk on your floor, or around the block. Do some squats and some push-ups. Or take the stairwell and go up one floor, then back down. The key is to not spend hours on end without moving. Getting that blood to flow a little faster will help your overall productivity. Also, the mental break of switching away from what you are doing does wonder for idea generation and clarification…

2) Take the stairs.

I warned you (if you read my previous post), but this theme will keep coming back. Stairs are great. Stairs are your friends. Really. Whenever there are escalators, don’t take them. Whenever you “must” take an elevator, get off a floor or two higher or lower than where you are going, and walk some stairs. There’s a big opportunity for daily, quality moving, in just making that slight tweak to your habits. It really doesn’t take that much longer, and the payoff is substantial.

3) Walk more.

Whether you commute by car or public transit, a long distance or a short one, a change to your habits to include more walking will make a huge difference. Get off a stop (or more) sooner than you usually do and walk the rest of the way. Park your car at a farther (and perhaps less expensive) parkade and walk from there. If you normally drive but could take public transit, consider switching to the already more physically demanding method. The key thing is to include some systematic walking in your normal habits on a daily basis.

4) Do something with your muscles every day.

This is more tricky because it conjures up images of body building and going to the gym. But, in fact, although it is the more difficult part to add to your daily routine, it has great potential and does not require that much of an effort. I’m a big fan of the “7-Minute Workout” which aims to get your most important muscle groups to work a little more than most of us are unfortunately used to in our sedentary lifestyle. Restoring muscle tone means increasing your base metabolism, and immediately helping with your overall ability to deal with daily demands put on your body by the rest of your activities.

That’s it. For now.

I’ll get back to this topic frequently, offering more advice and tricks, and explaining the numerous benefits. But there you have it. Already enough to make a big difference…