When it comes to fitting movement into the day, many of us are stuck with an all-or-nothing mentality. We only feel accomplished when we hit 10,000 steps or fit in a full hour at the gym, and brush off the other efforts we make to get our bodies up and moving. But that perspective can hinder our progress. Our perfectionist definitions of “what counts” are actually holding us back from reaching our full movement potential, says Michelle Segar, Ph.D., the director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center.
“Most people’s beliefs reflect the ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy. The problem is when people believe that exercise is only worth doing if it meets specific standards of duration, intensity, and activity type — they have rigid, fixed definitions and goals,” Segar tells Thrive. And of course, the truth is that any amount of exercise is worthwhile!
Practicing the Microstep of getting off public transit one stop earlier is a valuable way to add more physical activity to your day, but it could be your perspective that’s holding you back from truly putting your Microstep into action. If you still have the mindset that it’s only a long, sweaty workout that’s truly “worthwhile,” you’ll be less likely to value the movement you’re getting from your Microstep. It’s worth reminding yourself that every bit of movement is worthwhile. “Count every opportunity to move as valid, and choose to take it. Know that any and all movement is worth doing, and will benefit our mood and energy level immediately,” Segar says.
The benefits of small bouts of movement, like taking the last leg of your commute on foot, affect more than just your mood. Segar points out that moving around for just a few minutes can boost energy and executive function, and reduce stress. What’s more, it can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and cancer, while improving cardiovascular health. So if you’re still letting that all-or-nothing mentality get the best of you, it’s time to think again: Any type of movement, big or small, will have a positive impact on your health, and your Microstep will help you get there.
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