Healthy Byte: Surprising Benefit of Moving More & Sitting Less

Phoebe Lapine challenged herself to move for 30 minutes a day for the month of July — and the benefits weren’t just physical! (Photo courtesy of Phoebe Lapine)

Who wouldn’t benefit from a little less sitting and a little more moving?

Phoebe Lapine, a food writer, chef, and creator of Feed Me Phoebe, challenged herself to make movement a priority for 30 minutes a day for the entire month of July. It’s all part of her “Wellness Project,” which involves taking on a new health- or beauty-related challenge each month. (You can also read about her month without alcohol, sugar, and caffeine, her time spent without a microwave, and how she beat her back pain by making a point to stand more.)

Phoebe shared with Yahoo Health the most surprising benefit of her commitment to move during July, as well as what she realized she likes — and dislikes — about group fitness classes. And for the full recap, be sure to click over to Feed Me Phoebe.

YAHOO HEALTH: Why did you choose moving for 30 minutes a day to be your July challenge? 

PHOEBE LAPINE: I’ve talked before about how I’ve had issues with back pain, and what a journey it’s been for me to try to combat some of that pain naturally through exercise. One of my past Wellness Project challenges was to actually strengthen my core. In doing so, I gained back a bit of my confidence when it comes to exercise. But if the first part of my exercise challenge was making room for movement again in my life, the second part would have to be leaning into my discomfort and fears around physical activity. And that would involve seeing what all the crazy fitness junkies in New York have been up to all these years.

YH: Were there any surprising benefits from making movement a priority, aside from the typical body-boosting effects of exercise? 

PL: The challenge made me work walking breaks into my workday in the same way I would have lunch. And those walks ended up being more productive than I had ever given them credit for.

When I was down in Tennessee at a writer’s colony, for lack of any other healthy form of distraction or procrastination, I would end up taking a daily walk around 4 p.m. to clear my head and get my legs moving. I usually returned to my desk a lot more focused than when I left. I worried though that the frenetic energy of the city, plus my tendency to walk with phone in hand, wouldn’t have the same effect once back home. Studies have shown how mid-day walking can be a meditative experience that reduces work time stress and promotes productivity. But I wondered: how much of that positive impact was the movement and how much was the fresh air?

I did find my daily walking breaks to be similarly rejuvenating in New York City, even if the fresh air was slightly smoggier than when I was in the woods down South. In fact, one of my favorite parts of this 30 minutes of movement experiment was that I did a lot more outdoor activities versus formal exercise. And I think the extra vitamin D was just as worthwhile as the added endorphins from sprinting on a stationary bike for an hour. Plus, it was a lot more efficient for my schedule and left me feeling less guilty than if I had scooted away from my desk for 2 hours to do burpees in a hot crowded room.

YH: As part of your challenge, you also made it your mission to try a new workout class each week (by signing up for ClassPass). Did you find a class you ended up loving? 

PL: To help me stay committed for this part of the challenge, I tried to partner with a workout buddy. But finding someone whose schedule and fitness level matched my own was hard! My friend Sarah was the best candidate in terms of mid-day availability, but after I accompanied her to an SLT class, which turned out to be Pilates on crack, I realized I was way out of my league. Still, I got dragged to other experiences with various friends. I tried 305 fitness during a bachelorette weekend, which was another humbling physical experience, as the class involved two of the things I suck most at: coordinated dance and cardio. I also tried hip-hop moves (and trampolining) during Bari, and also gave The Class a shot (it’s a mix of interval training and aerobic mat work, mixed with motivational instruction and emotional catharsis — achieved by encouraging people to break through their psychological barriers by yelling).

However, none of these above-mentioned classes were the perfect fit for me. The class I liked best — and will probably return to, now that my July challenge is over — is Barre3, where I felt encouraged by the instructor/owner Sadie Lincoln as I alternated between squats and bar planks.

YH: Is there something you’ve learned about your personal fitness philosophy after trying out all these fitness classes?

PL: I could go on and on about some of my experiences in these classes, and I do have the desire to keep trying more through my ClassPass membership. But I think I’ve discovered so far that these trendy workouts just aren’t for me. I thought I would find a shoe that fit. But I think I’m just a simpleton who likes yoga and pilates, walking and biking.

Despite my hating, now that I’ve had a week to cool down, I must say that my body feels pretty great! And I definitely successfully jumped many mental hurdles. If I can survive mega reformers, trampolines, dance routines and lady viking battle cries, then I’m pretty sure my mind and body are ready for anything.

Originally Posted HERE

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