Under these global circumstances most of us are staying at home perhaps more than we ever have as adults.

With all this time stuck in one place, we may look at our habitats and imagine how they could possibly serve our bodies and minds better. How many of us have moved furniture around, purged, decluttered, deep cleaned, or bought and redesigned during this time?

Where once we might have designed our homes for aesthetics and for hosting, we may now also consider how it works to encourage flexibility, maximize movement, and incorporate fitness into our daily activities, especially during a time when we might be more sedentary than usual. This trend in practice or lifestyle goes by a few names:

‘Life-stacking’ proposes redistributing, organizing, and combining activities to accomplish more. It suggests this type of “productivity” as it pertains to our physical health through mobility and flexibility as we move about our house, rather than in other spheres of life where the term “productivity” might usually be applied.

 

What does Life-Stacking look like?

My household recently had a conversation about where to store the pots and pans in our house.

The best spot for them was on the bottom shelf of a deep pantry, which requires us to squat low and possibly bend over if we reach for those in the back. This means every time we need to cook on the stove or clean up after, we have to squat down low. When we do this a few times a day over a period of time, it may start to feel like an inconvenience. Our instinct is to move things to minimize hassle, which is somewhat opposed to this concept.

But what if we viewed this type of activity as an opportunity to get in a squat and bend in ways we were not getting that movement in any other aspect of our day. This is where life-stacking gets its name: we are both cooking and getting our squats in. We are doing things while also moving our bodies. So, although it may feel like a slight mental annoyance, it is actually ‘nourishing’ (a term coined in Kate Bowman’s material) to our bodies’—so long as we use proper form and stay within our range of motion.

This sparked more conversations about arrangements in our home. From small things, like how high or low should we store regularly accessed kitchenware, to bigger things, like what if we had less furniture to provide room to freely move around? 

In a 24life.com interview by Robin Rootenberg  with Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement, Kate asked, “What if we [equated] convenience with taking less movement instead of taking less time?” 

Take my pots and pans situation. How much time are we gaining by having the pots and pans sitting on the counter, and how much movement are we losing if we just stand there instead of squatting down to reach them? It might seem like a small, relatively insignificant movement. But they add up, quickly. In a world and culture that values time productivity, it’s a perspective change towards thinking about movement productivity.

This was somewhat new to us, and hard to imagine initially as it applied to our household. It required some research on my part to imagine a new way to structure our habits and habitat. Katy Bowman with Nutritious Movement and Petra Fisher with Petra Fisher Movement are two great resources to start exploring the concept further.

Even if you’re simply looking for how to adjust your posture or find healthy eye exercises for sitting at your desk, they have loads of content to support your curiosity. They even discuss how to make the changes easier and how to consider your cohabitants’ wants and needs while you explore potential home mobility changes. 

To get started, here are some simple home stackable opportunities:

  • Consider eating or working at a coffee table periodically
  • Make movement tools and toys (like foam rollers, reflex toys, stretching bands, etc.) more accessible, to encourage impulsive stretching and moving
  • When working at a stationary position for longer periods of time, set a timer to remind yourself to stretch your wrists, wiggle your feet, look far away, roll your shoulders, or any number of micro body movements

 

How’s it going at my house?

With the few changes we have already made, we have discovered that we stretch, move, and sit around the floor more. When we’ve had young nephews come over, I don’t have a lot to move or pick up. They swarm in, dance, roll, pull out equipment to balance and challenge their bodies, play with pets, and lounge about uninhibited. I am far less stressed about someone getting hurt or moving things back and forth for activities. Cleanup is a cinch. 

We had the opportunity to buy more than one plunger or cleaning brush when we gained another bathroom. We decided to skip it. We have one and keep it in one spot. Now we have another chance to go up and down stairs should it be needed and I have less clutter to maintain and disinfect.

So far, I’d say the little changes we’ve made might have had an initial adjustment period in our habits, but ultimately have been a benefit. We have less stress, less to clean, more space, more playtime, and all the while we are investing in moving more so that we can move for longer.

Most of the yoga, exercise, balance and pt toys and tools are easily accessible in the living room. Quick and easy access means we’re far more likely to grab and play spontaneously. A yoga ball, blanket or balance tools can provide extra seating too.

The living room has a few floor sitting options. We are currently searching for a low to the floor couch-ish replacement that fits everyone’s needs and wants. In the meantime, the couch is on sliders so it can be moved to the edge of or off the rug easily. There is no TV, just a fireplace that one kitty is seen enjoying in the floor lounger.

My desk is actually a coffee table. The chair is a bleacher seat on top of a mover’s dolly, zip-tied together. In front of a window, so I can allow my eyes a long-distance viewing break. Close at hand are a few more toys and tools for moving breaks, a yoga mat and a zafu pillow for soft surface stretching or alternate sitting postures.

We created a reflexology and sensory tray from an Ikea shoe tray and some river rocks from the backyard. We keep it in front of the counter where we do most our food prep.

We can hang from the playground structures a few blocks down the road during one of our walks, but it’s also nice to have something to hang from at home. We picked a door in our hallways that doesn’t need to be closed very often. So we walk by it frequently, and can stop to stretch throughout the day.

My word of wisdom in your exploration:

  • Be curious
  • Set aside time to imagine and experiment
  • Maks small changes to start

Here’s to gaining more mobility instead of losing it!

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