“My doctor says I need to lose weight and I should be exercising more. …if I don’t, I’m at risk for atherosclerosis, a heart attack, diabetes,…” Dave S.
“I am concerned about my muscle tone and excess flab. Can you help me?” Nancy B.
I hear quotes like these all too often.
Again, we’ve fallen prey to convenience and are suffering the consequences.
All of our technology: from cars to cell phones, to automatic wash machines and dishwashers,…
You name it we don’t have to move and our health is suffering as a result.
We can get rid of movement from the environment but we can’t get rid of our bodies’ need for it.
We’re designed to need lots of physical movement. YET, at the same time our brain is naturally wired to conserve energy.
Thus, avoiding movement easily wins out.
But in the long run we’re paying a high price.
We have to be intentional in today’s world about getting physical activity
…if we want to avoid the ailments of our affluent, sedentary society – osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, pelvic floor disorder (PFD), cardio vascular disease, overweight, inflammation, joint replacements, hypertension, degenerative disc and spinal issues...
When I say physical activity, I don’t necessarily mean exercise, rather natural movement that our technology driven world continues to remove.
We can do what we love – swim, bike, run, baseball, soccer, football, palates, CrossFit,…
BUT our fitness exercise does not fulfill our daily requirement for movement.
It’s a good start, but fitness and exercise don’t necessarily equate to good health.
Exercise has much of what makes movement good.
Yet it’s inferior. Even though we workout daily, we’re sedentary most of the day.
It also uses small quantities, high intensities, and large unnatural and repetitive forces in the joints.
This can help explain why professional-level athletes, weekend warriors and gym rats have no better health (in such terms as surgeries, medications, and death from cardiovascular disease) than those who do nothing at all.1
Movement specific to the requirements of survival keeps us fit and matches the mechanical requirements of our human bodies.
These are movements like walking long distances, squatting to bathroom and birth, carrying loads, hauling your weight up and over, or lowering your full body weight.
Doing natural, reflex-driven movements from birth utilizes not only the large muscle groupings we commonly think of at the gym, but also the other five hundred muscles, including the muscles between the ribs that open and close to inflate the lungs, the intrinsic muscles of the feet that create the arch shape of the foot, or the constant force-generating sheets that make the pelvic floor.2
Since most of life’s essentials no longer require movement, we’re cheating ourselves out of good nutrition – physical activity is part of our nutritional requirements to keep our cells and tissue alive and healthy.
Most of us fail to make the connection between our lack of daily movement and our health issues.
Don’t get me wrong. I love exercise… but I know I would be better off walking, walking and walking3 and building more movement into my daily routine.
Movement keeps our body in a state of re-generation instead of degeneration.
Our physiology functions much like a self-winding clock. We are comprised of more than six hundred self-winding clocks – each muscle has its own responsibility to feed itself and the tissues of that area.4
Lack of moving for years has left us overusing a few joints with the rest of the body sitting dormant and inert.5
I talk a lot in my blogs about our diets and food, but physical activity and lifestyle are equally important.
Many of the aliments associated with aging (arthritis, postural changes, degenerative disc issues, decreased bone density, loss of muscle mass, decreased hormone production,…) are underpinned by physical activity. For example, testosterone and human growth hormone (aka: HGH, a repair hormone) are increased by certain types physical exertion.6
Physical activity improves body composition and cognitive ability (translated better mood and a reduction in cognitive decline).7
It can improve gut flora and activate and enhance the immune system.8
The right type and the right amount can significantly reduce systemic inflammation.9
It can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation. Just the mere act of standing (from sitting all day) starts to breakdown triglycerides.10
And you’ll burn more calories with increased physical activity.
Our pastor recently did a sermon series on life-hacks11.
He related this story as an example:
“At the end of the church work day there were big piles of trimmings. We loaded pile after pile into a pick up truck. Each time the truck got full, I would stomp it down so we could load more.
As we got to the end, we thought, ‘how long is it going to take to unload all of this when I take it to the transfer station?’
The hope was that it would slide off.
But it was only after we had loaded everything that someone told me a ‘life-hack.’ He had seen where you put a piece of plywood on the bed of the truck with golf balls underneath the plywood so that you can just slide plywood off the truck to unload the debris.
I could have used that life-hack. It took me about a half hour to get all the debris unloaded. They were tangled and heavy. It was a lot of work.
I wish I had had that life-hack.”
Yes, it would have made it easier, Pastor Ryan. BUT think of the great service you did yourself.
You were outside on a beautiful day getting fresh air and sunshine, and getting to use muscles and parts of your body that you normally don’t have to move.
Thinking differently about situations in our daily lives like that of Pastor Ryan’s is going to take a big mindset shift for most of us. We’ve been conditioned to seek ways to safe time and effort.
But ask yourself what I am asking myself:
“What will Karen Future thank Karen Today for?
What common aliments mentioned above will Karen Future have averted or reversed because Karen Today started intentionally adding back in natural movement?
Movements needed for survival, long since forgotten.”
Here a just some suggestions for starters:
- Whenever possible, walk when “running an errand” instead of hopping in the car.
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park a further distance away.
- Leave the remote on top the TV.
- Look for creative ways to break up sedentary time – Nitric Oxide Dump (NOD), squats, push ups, litter walks,…
- Go for family walks.
- Get a dog…that needs walking several times a day.
- Have a jump rope competition.
- Get outside and do some yard work.
- Pull weeds by hand.
- Get rid of the blower. Instead rake the leaves, shovel the snow and sweep the patio.
- Start a garden… or a farm or homestead if you want to go all out.
- Find an “old school” jungle gym and monkey bar set and have some fun.
- Give thanks for a poor memory…when it causes you to go up and down the stairs multiple times because your keep forgetting something
- Cook with cast iron
- Look for other ways to avoid convenience and enjoy doing so, enjoy the process, live in the moment.
And give thanks for those impromptu, unplanned workouts like I did recently.
I unplug my router at night. The other morning when I plugged it back in, the internet would not come on. After calling and chatting on the phone with a Verizon assistant, we determined that there must be a problem with the actual phone equipment.
Getting to the equipment required unloading the entire bookshelf that was hiding it.
The Verizon assistant apologized to me for making me go through this physical labor. “Don’t apologize,” I said. “This is great. I am getting a second workout for the morning. I need to build more movement into my days. So, thank you!”
What’s more, after moving the shelf, determining that a technician would have to come out, scheduling the service, and hanging up, I got to vacuum.
I did so with a smile, now knowing the health benefit this was to me…and remembering that God, who controls all things, has a sense of humor.
* * * * * * *
Here’s a helpful hint to help you shift your mindset toward physical activity:
Spend less time thinking about exercise (even if it’s just thinking, “I should be…”) and more time thinking about a whole movement approach to physical activity all of those components of movement that you need every single day that will lead to vitality.
This will make it easier to avoid convenience and integrate movement into your life – all the little things you can do to get movement into your day.
And please make sure your passing this revived lifestyle on to your kids and grandkids. Help them to enjoy just playing outside like we did as kids… until it got dark and your mom made you come in.
* * * * * * *
We’ll take a look at where you’re at on your health journey, where you’d like to head, and how I can help you get there.
I would love your feedback too. So, leave a comment.
What are ways you have or would like to incorporate natural movement into your daily life?
Peace and grace,
P.S. Let nature help you find balance. Get outside and get fresh air and sunshine. Go for a walk in the woods whenever possible. According to Yoshifumi Miyazaki, Japan’s leading scholar on forest medicine, a walk in the forest provides preventive medical effects by relieving stress and recovering the immune system diminished by stress. It even calms a crying baby.
1Bowman K 2016. Alignment Matters. Propriometrics Press
3Walking improves bone density, pelvic floor health, mental health, cardio vascular health, digestive health and lymphatic flow. We apparently need to be walking several miles a day to drain our lymph system. https://alignmentmonkey.nurturance.net/2012/walkingbenefits/
4Bowman K 2016. Alignment Matters. Propriometrics Press
11Life Hack refers to anything that makes your life easier – tips, short cuts, ways to save energy, time, frustration, headache.