HAES supports all people in adopting sustainable health habits for the sake of health and well-being. Developing a healthy relationship with food and exercise is an important part of self-care. Life-Enhancing movement is HAES 5th principle. This blog will review ways that you can find your joyful movement, why it is important and how you can stay motivated to move!
What does HAES mean?
HAES is an acronym that stands for Health at Every Size. It is pronounced “haze”. Health at Every size (will be referred to as HAES throughout this review) is a social-justice movement that is working towards ending fat-phobia. HAES aims to help people of all sizes have access to resources that will support their health.
The HAES activists work towards promoting weight-inclusive health care, supporting size acceptance and body diversity. This means that all body sizes can see benefits from behavior change. The HAES approach rejects the use of BMI, weight, or size as indicators of health and the myth that your weight is a choice.1,2,3 Check out my previous blog for more information : HAES: Part One. A brief overview of Health at Every Size – Waistline Dietitian
What is the HAES movement?
HAES is a paradigm shift in healthcare to include the self-care of all people with the goal of improving overall health regardless of a person’s weight status. This includes the effort to include all people of all different social, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.
The Health at Every Size® (HAES®) approach is a registered trademark of The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH). This nonprofit organization originally developed in 2003 and was revised in 2013 to promote size acceptance and end weight discrimination and stigma. 2,3,4 For more information about the HAES Movement click on my previous blog: HAES Movement – Waistline Dietitian
HAES supports sustainable life enhancing behaviors:
HAES focuses on behaviors that all people can make to support self-care. Self-care and self-compassion are the key to promoting sustainable healthy lifelong habits. HAES helps people re-connect their bodies internal awareness to find practices that improve physical, emotional, and mental well-being
HAES helps people find sustainable practices that address health and support individual and community well-being. The HAES practitioners dig deep to get to the underlying cause of all health disparities and get to the root cause of health issues. 1,5
HAES 5th principle: Life-Enhancing Movement:
The 5th HAES principle is Life-Enhancing Movement. HAES supports physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree they choose. Joyful movement for the sake of mental and physical well-being, and not for the purpose of burning calories or trying to change body shape. HAES encourages mindful movement and intuitive exercise.
Finding a way to move that feels good to you so that you are intrinsically motivated to move. Intrinsic rewards may include improved mood, sleep, self -confidence, energy, body image, and cognitive function and decreased anxiety. There are many other health benefits to physical activity, but the immediate intrinsic rewards will help keep your momentum and motivation to move going! 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Why is joyful movement part of self-care:
I would relate physical activity as “paying yourself first” or “putting on your oxygen first, so you can save others”. Physical activity provides many health benefits that improve the quality of your life by impeding the aging process and promoting longevity. Even a single bout of activity will release endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in your body that will improve your mood.
Sedentary behavior is linked to many chronic diseases. The effect of sitting has been likened to the transmission of a car. Sitting for a prolonged period is like putting a car in reverse, causing one’s overall health status to go in the wrong direction. Long sedentary hours have been linked to a twofold increase in diabetes and cardiovascular disease and a 17% increase in mortality related to cancer.8,9,10
Benefits of joyful movement:
Immediate benefits of joyful movement:
Improved cognition, mood, and energy
Improved insulin sensitivity
Reduced feelings of anxiety.
Reduced blood pressure.
Long term benefits of joyful movement:
Regular physical activity provides important health benefits for chronic disease prevention including:
Brain Health: Reduces risk for depression and dementia.
Heart Health: Lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Lowers the risk of 8 cancers: breast, bladder, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach.
Helps with weight maintenance.
Improves bone strength.
Balance and Coordination: Reduces risk of falls.
Emerging research suggests that physical activity may help boost immune function
Physical activity can also manage existing health conditions:
Decreased pain from osteoarthritis.
Reduced disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes.
Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease
Any amount of physical activity has some health benefits. Overall, you want to move more and sit less.8,9,10,11,12,13
HAES supports life-enhancing movement:
HAES encourages people to build activity they enjoy into their daily routine. When you are focusing on how you feel instead of how many calories you are burning, you are less likely to see exercise as a chore. Your movement will become more joyful.
Physical activity tops the list of lifestyle habits that influence your health. Studies have found that it is easier to stick to activity in short bouts of physical movement throughout the day. Instead of carving out time for a “workout” you can find ways to incorporate more movement into your day. For example, short walks on a lunch break and brief periods of activity before and after work all count, and the sum of their duration may have similar benefits to a single continuous interval of exercise of the same duration.4
Active living refers to moving more as part of your everyday life. There are many ways to be active without strenuous exercise. Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, and adverse effects on mental health and muscular strength. Even acting like a fidgeter (standing often, getting up from sitting, pacing, parking at the back of the parking lot, and taking the stairs) can help! 12
What are the current recommendations for physical activity in adults?
The health benefits of moving are huge! I do not want you to miss out on this because you do not enjoy “exercising”. To obtain the most health benefits from physical activity, adults need at least 150-300 minutes a week (approximately25 minutes every day😊). This moderate-intensity aerobic activity would include walking, dancing, mowing the lawn, vacuuming, mopping, walking the dog, bike riding, swimming, jumping rope, vigorous house cleaning, gardening, and hiking to name a few. As little as 25 minutes a day. This can be broken up into 10-minute spurts throughout the day.
Adults also need muscle-strengthening. This is recommended at least 2 alternate days a week. You can use your own body weight, hand weights, resistance bands, or weight machines. Start light and increase weight or resistance when the moves become easier. These physical activities to strengthen your muscles should work all the major muscle groups of your body—legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms. 10,11,12
Tips for increasing your physical activity in your daily life:
Adding more physical activity is part of self-care! Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Moving more in your daily life.
Active living refers to moving more in your daily life. If you are not able to set aside extra time in your day to exercise, its ok! You can still get many health benefits from moving your body in your daily activities.
The key is to move more and to sit less. Pay attention to how you feel. The immediate intrinsic rewards may be improved mood, energy level, and reduced stress. How does the movement make you feel? We know that any physical activity has some health benefits.
What if I don’t have any extra time in my day?
It is often easier to stick to activity in short bouts throughout the day instead of trying to carve out 30 to 60-minutes at one time. Find ways to integrate more movement into your daily routine. Try starting with a goal of moving for ten minutes a few times a day.
For example, start with 10 minutes in the morning. You may head outside for a walk, or a march in place as you watch the morning news. Then, park your car at the farthest end of the parking lot at work. Walk for 10 minutes at the end of your lunch break. Taking a walking break during work has been shown to improve mood and productivity. In the evening after dinner take another 10 minutes of some type of movement you enjoy.
Walk and talk. Hold walking meetings. Walk while you are catching up with friends. Walk whenever you are talking on the phone. Walk while you are listening to books on tape or your favorite music. Explore nearby state parks with friends on the weekend. Walk after work or school to relieve stress.
Adding more movement when you are stuck at home:
The goal is to get your body moving more and sitting less. Start where you are with what you have. Gradually progress as your body allows more time and more enthusiasm in your movements. Set goals. You may want to schedule your movement time into your daily calendar.
Set a timer or a reminder to get up and move during the day. Wear comfortable clothing and supportive shoes.
Walk or march in place, dance during every TV commercial. Stand up and then sit down. Keep doing this during a commercial break.
When you are on the phone, pace throughout the house. Get up and move to a different room. Stand. Sit and then stand again. Set a timer to remind you to move.
Go get the mail, one bill at a time. Try a stationary bike if you sit and watch the television. Vacuum, dust, wash the floors, windows. Scrub your bathroom, Garden, mow the lawn with a push mower, weed. Plant a garden. Wash your windows or the car. Household chores can count towards your physical activity.
Ideas for Joyful movement when you are on the road:
If you are traveling, keep walking shoes in your car so they are available to use.
Many hotels have gyms, swimming pools and Staircases😊.
When driving long distance, stop at rest stations and walk around.
Visit state parks and enjoy the scenery. Meet up with friends to walk and talk.
Increasing joyful movement into your busy workday:
If you are sitting for work, stand up any time you can and move around the room. If you can, invest in a standing desk. A good rule of thumb for each 30-minute period: Sit for 20 minutes, stand for 8 minutes, and move for 2 minutes.
Fidgeting is also beneficial. There is research that just fidgeting can greatly increase your energy expenditure. Standing or lightly ambulating, pacing back and forth, taking the stairs.
When walking, gradually increase your pace as your body allows. Walk, hike, bike and explore new walking paths. Listen to your favorite music or get books on tape and listen while you are moving.
Remember, any amount of physical activity has some health benefits. Overall, you just want to move more and sit less. Start where you are with what you have. Find fun comfortable movement. Physical activity is part of self-care. Feel the difference!
Why should you include resistance/strength training into your physical activity?
As we age, we lose lean muscle mass. By the age of 50 we have lost about 10% of our muscle mass. Your muscle mass decreases on average by 15% per decade in your 60’s and 70’s! So, by the time you are in your 80’s, you may have lost as much as 40% of your muscle mass. This is a condition called sarcopenia.
One of the many functions of your muscle is to protect your joints and tendons. By preserving your muscle, you are much less likely to suffer from common physical injuries as well as falls. Muscle cells also burn 3 times more calories than fat cells. Therefore, increasing your muscle mass can increase your overall metabolism.
Resistance training helps maintain and combat the loss of muscle. Resistance or strength training makes you stronger and helps make daily activities, such as lifting a laundry basket or doing yard work, easier and safer.
Resistance training activities include lifting hand weights, using resistance bands, using your own body, using household props like milk jugs filled with sand or your own body (push-ups against the wall).14,15,16
Key physical benefits of resistance exercise:
Improves muscle strength, endurance, and power.
Improves bone, muscle and connective tissue growth and durability.
Improves communication between brain and muscle.
Improves blood glucose regulation.
Improves aerobic fitness.
Resistance exercise can help manage and treat many underlying health conditions including:
How to begin resistance training:
- Check with your doctor before you start lifting weights if you have any concerns, medical conditions, injuries, or illnesses.
- You may be encouraged to begin under the supervision of a physical therapist or trained exercise professional if you have had an injury or illness.
- Be as active as your abilities allow. There should be no pain!
- Start slowly with light to medium effort.
- Warm up gently and cool down at an easy pace before and after exercise.
How often should I do resistance training?
Strength training goal is to provide resistance to all your major muscle groups as least 2 times a week with a rest day in between.
How hard should I work?
Start with light effort. Build up to medium to hard effort.
Where can I do resistance training?
You can easily work resistance training into your day with minimal time in the comfort of your home. If you can carve out around 10-15 minutes you can work in an upper or lower body resistance workout. You could fit this in while you are watching the morning or evening news! You could do it after your morning or evening walk. While dinner is in the oven. While you are on the phone. During TV commercials. In place of social media time.
Examples of workout programs you can follow at home:
There are many ways to incorporate resistance training into your day at home. If you prefer to follow along with a workout trainer you could find great workouts on:
YouTube: There are many different workouts to choose from. These are a few examples:
Try exercise DVD’s: you can watch a clip of the workout and get a completes description before purchasing.
- Example: Collage video: exercise, workout, and fitness (Exercise, Workout and Fitness DVDs | Collage Video)
- Total fitness DVD (Total Fitness DVDs)
- Amazon fitness DVDs: Amazon.com : walking fitness
Or rent a workout on Netflix.
Example of Water workouts in a swimming pool:
Make up your own routine to your favorite music playlist! There are workout posters you can use as a guide. You can be creative and do what brings you joy. It should be fun. You should feel great. Move to feel the difference! You deserve the best!
HAES supports sustainable healthy habits:
HAES works to support individuals in choosing where to focus their energy. Sustainable healthy practices that add value to your daily life rather than pursuing a number on the scale. Focus on how movement makes you feel. HAES supports physical, mental, and emotional health and encourages self-care. What is your intrinsic motivation for moving?
Be curious and compassionate with yourself. You are not obliged to do any activity. Do what brings you joy and what feels right!
When calorie counting and body shaping are no longer reasons you move your body, joyful movements will become a sustainable habit and you will receive intrinsic rewards.
Finding joyful movement is an inside job! Move in ways that nourish your mind, body, and spirit. Remember activities that have brought you joy in the past. Swimming on a vacation. Hiking and camping with friends. Be open to try new activities.
My own experience:
Movement improves my mood, energy, patience, peace of mind, strength, stamina, self-esteem and sense of accomplishment, better quality sleep. I feel like I can be more patient with other people. (If I get in a bad mood my kids ask me if I missed my workout😊) It has given me the energy and strength to do more with my family. (Like an impromptu snorkeling trip or hiking trip). It gives me a great sense of accomplishment. I feel like I made a personal investment in myself.
I like to regularly workout. I like to pay myself first and last😊. I generally move at least 20 minutes in the morning and then again in the evening. This just works for me. In the morning, my workout really gives me energy. In the evening it helps relieve stress. It helps me sleep more soundly. What keeps me consistent and motivated is how it makes me feel.
My personal preference is to work out in the comfort of my home. This way I can get it done quickly and I do not waste time in traffic. There are no weather issues. I do not have to wait on another person or an available machine or wait for a class to start. I also prefer to work out alone, in comfortable (unattractive) clothing.
I like to use exercise DVD’s. I have gradually built a collection, so I do not get bored. I usually get my clothes, sneakers, and DVD ready the evening before. Planning helps keep you accountable and consistent. Schedule yourself into your busy day.
Do I always feel like moving? No. On days that I do not feel like moving I just tell myself I am going to do this for 5 minutes and then see how I feel. Usually after the 5 minutes of moving my body has caught up with the idea and I keep going.
HAES supports people adapting sustainable health habits for well-being. Physical activity is just one of the many things we can include in our journey towards self-care. The most important thing is for you to look inside and find movement that feels good to you and brings you a sense of joy. Intrinsic rewards such as improved mood and energy will keep you consistent on this journey. Don’t wait for motivation before you start. Take action and motivation will follow.
2. About the Association for Size Diversity and Health | ASDAH
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