Your health depends on movement
The body contributes far more to our lives than just physical attributes such as strength and endurance - it plays a major role in emotions, learning and relationships. The body is intimately involved in all our thought processes, understanding, emotions and decision making. The mind and body are inseparable, from our endocrine system to the "brain in our gut" - the body is your brain!
Most need a more "anti-fragile" experience, but too often we have extremes of inactivity and lack of exertion or inappropriate intensity that sends the stressed organism over the edge. "The dose makes the poison" and it is really just about finding that sweet spot. There is exercise, and there is movement. This is not about smashing out reps and killing yourself as an enabler to continue being in denial of a delusional lifestyle. Completing a "work-out" to achieve an external goal at the expense of not enjoying the process is short-sighted and not sustainable.
All learning, no matter how abstract, is physical. “Early movement experiences are beneficial to optimal brain development.” (Gabbard, 1998, p. 1). Stop a child from moving in early childhood and see what happens to their learning capability... oh, wait?!
We have stopped moving
“In less than two generations, physical activity has dropped by 20% in the U.K. and 32% in the U.S. In China, the drop is 45% in less than one generation. Vehicles, machines and technology now do our moving for us. What we do in our leisure time doesn’t come close to making up for what we’ve lost” - designedtomove.org
Being sedentary has become "normal". A modern human has the luxury to ask why run? Why jump? Why climb? When everything is accessible, when you are not forced to move to catch your prey or avoid being prey. Most people have a disconnect between their mind and body. We work in jobs that don't require our bodies, simply sitting at desks clicking mouse buttons and tapping on keyboards. The narrative and relationship between our bodies and our movement is forgotten, not heard, ignored. We only notice our bodies when "something goes wrong" with it. We have, in effect, betrayed our bodies, ignoring and dishonouring them by using them purely as “locomotive devices" to transport the head.
What is Movement?
"Exercise is Optional, Movement is Essential". What is the difference? Exercise is a modern invention, an obligation or chore designed to give us a way out, a get out of jail free card that lets us believe three weekly trips to the gym lets us off the hook with our bodies. It is pain, rather than pleasure driven. It is generally focused on specificity and lacking in real skill development. Most exercise regimes use machines and isolated exercises that make us experts in movements that are not practical and are limited, to put it politely.
Movement is something entirely different. Movement is ancient. Movement was here first. Hunting and gathering, dancing round the fire, walking, climbing, running, jumping, crawling, lifting, swimming, fighting...even sex! These are all movements the human body is designed for. A lot of public health research now points towards needing more movement in our lives, as opposed to exercise to remain healthy. For example, no amount of exercise will undo the pathology that is sitting and remaining sedentary. And conversely, you could go your whole life without ever doing exercise but instead move as part of your everyday life and remain healthy.
A big impact on the history of the current "fitness" paradigm and thus exercise is the visual impact and imagery of the rise of bodybuilding a few decades ago. What Bodybuilders do for their sport, takes amazing dedication but unfortunately the effect on the fitness culture as a whole was that of isolation purely for cosmetic motivation.
Thankfully there seems to be a shift in paradigms. More and more people are realising that we need more than exercise for aesthetic reasons alone, we even need more than so called "functional training". We need movement.
If you train, then "train movement, not muscles". Find out what movement means to you. For most moving is being in the present, enjoying the moment. Enjoying what you are doing. You are not exercising, you are moving. Movement for movement's sake.
Special mention to these teachers. I have used their words and inspiration and any similarity is meant with the upmost respect.
Frank Forencich, Erwan Le Corre, Ido Portal
What can you do?
Remove sitting in chairs - Simple but tough to actually put into practice for most. Prove me wrong! Sit less in chairs and learn to squat and sit on the floor instead (and yes it often needs to be taught). We should be able to sit on the floor in various archetypal resting postures that are our birthright, contained within the interaction of many joints and muscles. Standing from these archetypal resting postures to our full upright bipedal posture contains many integral movement patterns most have lost due to preferring the chair or sofa! GET MORE FLOOR LIVING into your life NOW.
Find out what movement means to you - Research and seek high quality movement material and never stop digesting new stuff. Develop a BS filter to discard what is not useful. Seek a teacher/coach, someone with a practice and a process. Enjoy movement for its own sake instead of external rewards.
Make movement a priority - Once you've found movement material you love, turn it into your passion and your obsession.
Movement snacks - Move more. Incorporate movement into your life, your job, wherever and whenever you can. Don't wait for your "workout" - do it now! Prevention is better than cure. Be a movement opportunist. Move, move move.
"Train movement, not muscles" - What are you training for. Muscles? Losing weight? An event maybe? Will it ever arrive?
Embodiment - Use movement to reconnect with your body and bring the body back into our experience.
Where possible move in nature - We are designed to be exposed to and move in all sorts of natural environments. Touch the world with your senses - go barefoot, even hug some trees if you want!
"Be strong, to be useful" - So once you've improved yourself, that's great and all but now what? Personal self striving alone can become stagnant and meaningless if you do not help those around you. After you have focused within, turn your attention outward to help others. You family/tribe, your community, the environment - the world. Once you have "changed your body" what will you do to "change the world"?
Play - with your children, with an adult, by yourself. Play has many forms. Most are afraid or conditioned to not see it's importance. Are you play deprived? When's the last time you wrestled, played tag or hide and seek. It is far from a waste of time. "Play like your life depended on it".