You’re familiar with this idea right? When you haven’t eaten for a while, you feel the pangs of hunger, and with it, emotions of irritability, anger and impatience. It’s very obvious to you that when this starts, that you need to EAT. The longer you allow yourself to starve, the stronger your urge to eat. The more irritable, angry and impatient you become.
There’s no doubt about this. No one will question this concept. We do not need scientific research to let us know that we are hungry.
The same is true for sleep. When you haven’t slept for a while, you feel the familiar sensations that signal to you that it’s time to sleep. Your eyes start to feel heavy. You might begin yawning. You feel a general sense of lethargy. You start to yearn for your bed, or your trusted couch. There’s no doubt in your mind that when you feel sleepy… you need to sleep.
Are you following with me at the moment?
There are clear physical demands that’ll arise on a day to day basis that you will address without question.
When you’re hungry, you eat.
When you’re sleepy, you sleep.
But what about this?
When you’re sedentary… what do you do? The correct answer would be move, but is this actually happening? Most sedentary people are sedentary for long periods of time. Weeks, months, even years are commonplace for sedentary behaviour.
But let’s take a step back.
When you haven’t eaten, you’re hungry.
When you haven’t slept, you’re sleepy.
When you haven’t moved, you’re…?
How do we define this? In the absence of a clear definition, how are we to recognise what needs to be done?
We know that when our bodies haven’t moved for a while, we feel sensations of stiffness, tightness, soreness, and tiredness. Accompanying these physical sensations, we might feel lazy, unfocused, uninspired, and demotivated.
To the best of my knowledge, there’s no clear label to describe feeling of being sedentary. Despite this, it’s undeniable that this feeling exists. Since no word currently exists, perhaps it is best that we use the sensations and emotions that commonly accompany sedentary behaviour, and match that with the actual reality of physical exertion based of the individual, in order to discover whether they actually are in need of movement.
If your clients are feeling stiff, slow, lethargic, or demotivated AND have done very little to no movement – perhaps they don’t need more rest. Perhaps they need to move. They need to exert effort.
Perhaps some of our problems can be simply reduced to a lack of activity – extending far beyond that of physical health. If we attribute sleep and hunger to emotional disturbance, surely movement must be the same, if not closely similar.