Daily Movement Snacks: 2 Tools to Move More at Home

Daily micro-movements are key to owning our big movements, like the squat, bench, and deadlift.

Today I’ll share two of my favorite ways to deck out your home for a more mobile lifestyle, without having to toss the couch. In the fitness industry we talk a lot about the big sexy movements, the best fat-burners, warrior-this, alpha-that. But we pay so little attention to micro-movements, those little snacks of movement spread throughout the day.

If you want to ditch nagging pains, improve mobility, and give your body a balanced diet of movement, you need to find ways to move more throughout the day.

What Are Micro-Movements?

Like food, we have both macro- and micronutrients when it comes to movement, and we need all of them to be a healthy, functional animal. Just as trace minerals play an important role in your body, trace movements make a big difference in your physical ability. These micro-movements determine your health and wellbeing.

So what are micro-movements? They include:

  • Shifting our weight
  • Changing positions
  • Small joint movements

Micro-movements are key to owning our big movements, like the squat, bench, and deadlift. They keep us working like a well-tuned instrument. If we ignore them during our day-to-day, we end up with a body that doesn’t quite work like a body.

Human beings are built to move for a huge amount of the day, in a variety of positions and circumstances. This huge spectrum of movement has now been consolidated into a few hour-long chunks during the week. We’re seeing an accumulation of evidence that no amount of exercise makes up for a sedentary lifestyle.1 No matter how intense it is, one hour of movement a day simply doesn’t make up for the other 23.

2 Tools for a Better Movement Diet at Home

These two simple tools will help you include more of the micro-movements listed above without throwing out all your furniture. (But I still encourage you to get off the couch whenever possible.) You’ll spend about $25.00 total and find huge improvements in your overall function.

You will need:

  • One 2 x 4 beam, about 8 feet long
  • One large plastic tub (with lid)
  • A bag of landscaping river rocks

Step 1: Train Your Brain

Your first step is to assemble a very high-tech, proprioceptive stimulus device – a.k.a., a balance beam.

Here’s the step-by-step guide:

  1. Find a hallway you walk down multiple times each day, and lay a 2 x 4 along it.
  2. Now each time you go down the hall, you can get a tiny bit of movement stimulus by balancing along the beam.

That’s it.

It may not seem like much, but proprioceptively-demanding activities like balancing light up the brain and are linked to improvements in working memory, cognition, and more.2, 3

Step 2: Strengthen Your Feet

The second step is slightly more complex. This video details how to construct your own rock bed.

This simple tool provides a much-needed change from the monotony of flat floors. The rock bed is your secret weapon when it comes to foot health. And as we’ve seen before, foot health is your secret weapon for strength, speed, and power.

Take Control of Your Health

Here’s the big take home: your body is always changing, and it’s either improving or declining. It takes cues from the things you eat, the way you sit, the environment around you, and based on those factors, it adapts.

You have a tremendous amount of control of the way your body looks, feels, and moves. If you aren’t happy with it, it’s time to change things up. These two simple tools can have a tremendous impact on your overall health and function if put into daily practice.

Remember: consistency trumps intensity.

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1. Biswas A, et al. “Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” Annals of Internal Medicine 126 (2015): 123-132.

2. Alloway RG & Alloway TP. “The working memory benefits of proprioceptively demanding training: a pilot study,” Perceptual and Motor Skills 120 (2015): 766-775.

3. Colcombe S & Kramer AS. “Fitness effects on the cognitive function of older adults: a meta-analytic study,” Psychological Science 14 (2003): 125-130.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.