Written by Gavin Sklar, 2023 Let Go & Grow Summer Intern
Edited by The LG&G Team
The title of this article says it all. Before we dive any further, what is medicine?
According to Oxford Languages, the definition of medicine is: “the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.”
Although medicine is commonly thought of as prescriptions from a doctor or in bottled/packaged form, medicine can come in many different forms- some that are so simple, they can be overlooked easily.
Have you ever gone outside and felt instantly better? Or went for a little walk? Or took a deep breath and felt more relaxed? These are in fact healing modalities that are medicine too!
There are many different types of medicine, some of which may initially come to mind as pills, liquids, and/or treatments prescribed by a doctor. These traditional approaches to medicine in the United States are definitely both helpful and needed. However, there are also evidence-based natural options that we can explore, many of which are completely free!
Think movement, being in nature, mindful breathing, hydration, meditation, community and more. When combined and integrated into a lifestyle, these choices can work together to amplify the result.
Today, however, let’s focus on building more awareness around movement in particular by diving into new approaches, possible perspectives, some interesting statistics and research.
- According to the CDC, “Only 1 in 4 US adults and 1 in 5 high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity. Not getting enough physical activity comes with high health and financial costs. It can contribute to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, several cancers, and obesity.”
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Almost 500 million people will develop heart disease, obesity, diabetes or other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) attributable to physical inactivity, between 2020 and 2030, costing US$ 27 billion annually, if governments don’t take urgent action to encourage more physical activity among their populations.”
- According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “As many as 50 million Americans are living sedentary lives, putting them at increased risk of health problems and even early death.”
- According to the Washington Post, the average adult sits for about 6.5 hours a day, for teens even more.
Speaking at the American Psychological Association’s 117th Annual Convention, Steven Blair, PED, called Americans’ physical inactivity “the biggest public health problem of the 21st century.” Blair is a professor of exercise science and epidemiology at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. He is one of the world’s premier experts on exercise and its health benefits and was the senior scientific editor of the 1996 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health. “Given that these individuals are doubling their risk of developing numerous health conditions compared with those who are even moderately active and fit, we’re looking at a major public health problem.”
Above, we can see that it is possible physical inactivity is causing more deaths than smoking! Sedentary activity has become standard- and often remains hidden. This is where awareness and commitment to change can be so effective. With more awareness, we have the power to make small but powerful choices to come into alignment with health.
If you are suffering from poor health or inactivity, do not be hard on yourself. Many unhealthy habits such as sedentary activity have vicariously become a part of everyday life as society has evolved. You may be asking yourself questions daily like, “Why do I feel tired? Or fatigued? Why do I feel pain? Or low energy?” Just as I often do too, but we encourage you to try not to get too caught up in these feelings.
We can consider focusing on feeling what you feel, understanding it, and connecting to what you can do. A practice that may help you do this is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping; which is a practice in Chinese medicine that involves tapping with your fingertips along energy centers of the body to help understand and release emotions.
WE have the power to CHANGE. Below, we dive deeper into the benefits of movement and more approaches that may align with your individual needs and interests!
Movement is the Answer
There’s a quote by expert brain coach Jim Kwik I like: “As your body moves, your brain grooves.” In fact, “A recent UCLA study found that exercise increases growth factor in your brain, making it easier for your brain to create new neural connections.”
Essentially, these connections make it easier for your body to send signals, therefore to function at more optimal capacity. This includes better focus, digestion, and awareness. Additionally, exercise increases your heart rate (for better cardiovascular adaptations), and pumps oxygen to your brain.
Even more benefits of physical activity are known to be:
- Improved sleep
- Increased ability to perform everyday activities
- Improved cognitive ability and a reduced risk of dementia
- Improved bone and musculoskeletal health
- Can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% (71% for those over 60)
- Stimulates the release of endorphins (hormones in the brain that relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve mood)
Moreover, you may already know that inactivity is a problem. You also may already know the vast benefits of physical activity. However, you may not know where to start, and that’s ok! Below are some tangible ways to begin that may work for you.
The awesome thing is that movement does not have to mean something intense like going for a run- it can also refer to simple things like standing up from the chair every 30 min to an hour. Or at a very basic level, even changing our posture while seated! For example, linked here are some alternative positions while working on the computer that may work well for you.
Walking in particular, as an approach to movement, is a simple activity that is another very underrated form of exercise, boasting all those same benefits described earlier. These include increased mood, energy, and blood flow, as well as more fat burning because walking takes place at a low-moderate intensity level. What’s even better is that you can do it while having a conversation with a friend, taking work calls, or even listening to a podcast.
A walking meditation is another great option to build more awareness; here is an example (ideally without the phone nearby):
- Tune in to how you’re feeling from an observer’s perspective. What thoughts and feelings are coming up?
- Circulate thoughts of gratitude, for example with affirmational statements: “I feel grateful for ____.” “I feel grateful for my two legs that allow me to move.” “I feel grateful for the sunny day today that warms my body and mind.”
- With feelings of gratitude within, ponder steps to take in regard to work, school, or family for the day.
- Finish with a smile and some deep breaths. Keep this feeling within, and remember it throughout the day as wanted.
*Key: keep it simple. The above steps are just suggestions in which any can be excluded.
Some other examples include group exercise, outside cardio (running and biking), sports, and dancing! Pictured is a group exercise format I coach at UCF called F45. It is a combination of high-intensity interval and functional training. More importantly, it provides an atmosphere for all individuals, wherever they are at in their fitness and life, to come together and exercise in a supportive environment. It can get even more fun when you take a post-workout picture with your friends for the memories, and take a themed class! My co-coach Roni and I designed a disco-themed class with 70s music for a more interactive and exciting vibe. Take a look at the link above to find classes in your area.
Furthermore, if you are limited on time, there are options as well. With youtube you can search keywords like “10 minute bodyweight workout,” or “20 minute moderate-intensity workout.” Other resources like Instagram or TikTok are great resources too that you can also explore with the search bar feature.
Movement is Contagious
Ever heard energy is contagious? Well, movement is too!
For example, people have seen me in public using the computer stand you see in the pictures in the article here, and have pointed out to me “that’s a cool stand” or “how can I get one of those?” I definitely have gotten really funny looks, especially with bringing the foam pad.
To admit, at first, I was afraid to bring my computer stand and the pad to a public workspace. I was afraid of what others would think. But after pushing through this fear, I realized that movement is contagious. This approach to movement has turned into a great conversation starter where I have given quite a few people the Amazon link (in the resources section below, as well as the laptop stand) and shared perspectives around movement. Additionally, while my positions and/or foam pad might have made some people chuckle a bit, I have shifted my perspective to find it cool that laughter and joy have come to their mind because of what they have seen me do. It’s worth it if I even might make others think for just one second, “hmm maybe I should move more.” Especially when I’m dancing while doing it too. It is so FREEING!
Movement has changed my life… I have been through many injuries and had plenty of time in physical therapy. Something I love is that the main approach for healing they take is to move!
This is profound to me because to many people, movement is the opposite of what they think they should do for an injury or for fatigue. But, movement promotes healing by increasing blood flow and energy production while also strengthening the musculoskeletal system.
It is important to note, there have been many times when the exercise I’ve done in physical therapy has been uncomfortable, but interestingly enough effective. Just as with cold exposure, we can change our perception and relationship with discomfort, for positive outcomes.
The NIH (National Institute of Health), recommends about 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. While these numbers are important, movement is very individual, therefore it can be more helpful to focus on particular activities that you like doing. That could mean morning walks, yoga, going for a run, swimming, or lifting weights- among many other options. Make sure to schedule your movement and put yourself in position to look forward to it.The key is listening to the body, and giving yourself what you need; giving yourself what feels good.
Movement is the MEDICINE that has been here all along.
How do you move?
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Physical inactivity poses greatest health risk to Americans, research shows. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2009/08/physical-inactivity
Awareness as a gift not a curse, what drives you?. Dr. Brooke Stuart. (2021, September 7). https://www.drbrookestuart.com/awareness-as-a-gift-not-a-curse-what-drives-you/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, May 17). National and State Diabetes Trends. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/reports/reportcard/national-state-diabetes-trends.html
Explore physical inactivity in the United States: Ahr. America’s Health Rankings. (n.d.). https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/measures/sedentary
Home. F45 Training. (2023, July 5). https://f45training.com/
How to L.O.V.E. Your Brain. Jim Kwik. (2023, January 10). https://www.jimkwik.com/podcasts/kwik-brain-054-how-to-love-your-brain/#:~:text=E%20stands%20for%20Exercise,Exercise%20stimulates%20neurogenesis%20and%20neuroplasticity.
How to take pride in yourself and your choices. Dr. Brooke Stuart. (2021, December 12). https://www.drbrookestuart.com/how-to-take-pride-in-yourself-and-your-choices/
Lack of physical activity – centers for disease control and prevention. (n.d.). https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/pdf/factsheets/physical-activity-H.pdf
Lifestyle and weight management inactivity risk graphs. (n.d.-b). https://intermountainhealthcare.org/ckr-ext/Dcmnt?ncid=522600683
On emotional freedom technique (EFT) tapping. Dr. Brooke Stuart. (2023, May 31). https://www.drbrookestuart.com/on-emotional-freedom-technique-eft-tapping/
Open roads, how freedom can moonlight as restriction and vice versa. Dr. Brooke Stuart. (2022, January 23). https://www.drbrookestuart.com/open-roads-freedom-restriction/
Park, J. H., Moon, J. H., Kim, H. J., Kong, M. H., & Oh, Y. H. (2020, November). Sedentary lifestyle: Overview of updated evidence of potential health risks. Korean journal of family medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7700832/
Professional, C. C. medical. (n.d.). Endorphins: What they are and how to boost them. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23040-endorphins
Shifting from scarcity to abundance. Dr. Brooke Stuart. (2020, December 22). https://www.drbrookestuart.com/the-shift-from-scarcity-to-abundance/
LG&G Team (2023, July 8). Taking in the good, a powerful practice for more joy and peace in your life. Let Go & Grow. https://letgoandgrow.com/notebook/articles/taking-in-the-good/
LG&G Team. (2023, June 24). Plunge into life: Growing through resistance: Articles, internship articles: Ice bath, perspective. Let Go & Grow. https://letgoandgrow.com/notebook/articles/plunge-into-life/
World Health Organization. (n.d.). Who highlights high cost of physical inactivity in first-ever Global report. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news/item/19-10-2022-who-highlights-high-cost-of-physical-inactivity-in-first-ever-global-report
Gavin Sklar is someone who strives for excellence in everything he does and is. He is passionate about feeling his best within his own body and helping others do the same. Gavin grew up playing plenty of sports with his main sport being baseball where he competed at the Varsity level in High School and was the team captain for his senior year. Sports taught Gavin the values of commitment, discipline, and effort while doing something that he loves. Additionally, growing up as the oldest of 4 children and later on the captain of the high school baseball team, he needed to learn how to lead others in many different ways for both an optimal family and team dynamic. Now, Gavin holds the positions of Content Writer at Let Go & Grow International and President of the Holistic Living Organization at UCF where he aims to grow and impact others on a daily basis.