Is there a difference in how you relate to exercise compared to how you relate to movement?
As a species, humans are more sedentary than we’ve even been–up until a relatively short time ago in our history, humans moved to Live. As technology has evolved, especially in the last few decades, many of us no longer have a need to move for shelter, food, work, protection or connection. We were designed to MOVE.
Moving is no longer integrated into our lifestyle as it was for our ancestors, who walked miles, lifted and carried things, and got up and down from the ground multiple times a day. We’ve sacrificed our movement in favor of what seems, at least in the short-term, to be convenient.
For some, exercise means taking specific time out of the day to go and workout, or forcing yourself to move in ways that feels uncomfortable. It may mean paying for a gym membership or trainer, and for some it feels more like a punishment than a reward. Exercise can feel depleting.
Movement, on the other hand, is something we’re all born to do, occurs 24/7, is sustainable, and allows us not only to function, but more importantly, to fully participate in life.
Breathing fully is movement, except many of us have stopped taking full breaths and our spine, ribs and organs are no longer capable of the resilience we need to take a deep breath.
Getting up and down from the floor is movement, except now we sit on comfy chairs with supportive backs and our torsos and spines can no longer support us without the “right” chair. And our hips and legs cannot bend into the shapes required for sitting on the ground.
Chewing is movement, except now we eat more cooked and softened foods–the face, jaw and tongue no longer have to do the work they were designed to do.
What are we to do about all this?
First, let’s acknowledge that exercise is a great thing, and there are many exercises we can leverage to improve strength, mobility, coordination and power. We don’t need to throw out the idea that getting more exercise is a game-changer!
Maybe you lack the motivation right now to carve time out of your day to exercise, and then end up feeling guilty and ashamed. That’s not a great space to spend time in, and will never lead you to finding the joy and fun in exercise. I suggest instead of beating yourself up about not exercising, you embrace the opportunities you already have to add more movement to your day.
Here are a few quick and simple ideas:
- Once a day, sit down on the floor instead of on a chair. It doesn’t matter how you sit, or whether you need to hold on to something to get up or down. At first, you’ll feel awkward–that’s normal. Perhaps you only spend a minute or two on the floor before getting back up–that’s OK too. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend on the floor, the number of times a day you get down and up, and challenge yourself to use your arms for support less and less.
- When you go up and down the stairs, don’t hold on to the hand rail. Can you take the stairs two at a time as you go up? Three at a time? On the way down, can you stay on the balls of your feet instead of using the whole foot?
- Take 5 minutes in the morning to breathe deeply and fully in and out through the nose. Keep the eyes closed and focus only on the breath completely filling the lungs and emptying. This will not only begin to increase the mobility in your chest, but it also has a calming effect on the nervous system. You’ll be ready to take on the day!
- Make a commitment to walk every day. Maybe it’s 5 minutes, maybe an hour–the length of time doesn’t have to be consistent, just the commitment to walking as many days as you can. Walking has tremendous benefits for us. If you can get outside and walk somewhere with your shoes off, even better.
- It’s OK to lift and carry heavy things. You were designed to be able to lift and carry things. If it’s been a while, begin gradually and work up. You can start with small items like a light grocery bag, and move to larger/heavier things like flower pots, suitcases, boxes etc. Experiment with different ways you can lift and carry things. The problems we have with lifting and carrying usually stem from lack of practice and preparation. To get comfortable with lifting, you have to do it consistently, just like anything else. It’s not something you attempt on a weekend when a friend asks for help moving furniture!
I love hearing about your movement and life adventures, so have a go at some or all of these suggestions and let me know how it goes. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.