How many steps did our hunter-gatherer ancestors take in a day? Perhaps they had to take a night stroll after building the fire in order to reach 10,000 steps. How many calories did they burn? Did they go to the gym after intensively tracking an antelope on the Serengeti? These questions and statements seem preposterous, but it helps to prove a point. Exercise is a man-made activity that has become a necessity in our modern world as we have outsourced most of our survival strategies. For most of our existence on this earth, we had to move throughout the day to obtain food, water, shelter, & safety. Movement is one of the keys to human life and by practicing natural, functional movements, a new horizon for health is within reach. I like to distinguish movement from exercise because one must precede the other for the true benefits of both to be realized. If your body can not move adequately under control, then it will be inevitable that injury will occur down the line. Our structure is extremely resilient so it may not happen overnight, but eventually the toll will become too great for your body to compensate.
What does natural movement look like? For starters, it is exemplified by infants and adolescents. They crawl, they jump, they climb, they balance, they roll, and they still enjoy sitting on the ground. There is nothing extraordinary about any of those motions, but they are what make us human.You can think of us like the Swiss Army Knife of movement when it comes to the animal kingdom. Our species is not the fastest, strongest, meanest, or even most agile; however, we can perform some of the most amazing feats of movement. That is why we enjoy watching sports, as athletes have trained themselves to be exceptional movers. One may argue that we are the most intelligent species when compared to all other sentient beings, but our cognitive abilities are a byproduct of the capacity for movement. Something that is decreasing as we become more sedentary is our overall intelligence and critical thinking skills. If you do not see the immediate connection between intelligence and movement, look no further than the Koala bear. It is unique in its ability to derive all essential nutrition from one plant, eucalyptus, meaning that it does not have to maneuver through nature for its sustenance. Add to that, all of its natural predators have gone extinct, so finding safety is almost a nonexistent concern. Unfortunately, for these cute little furballs, their brains have shrunken inside their skulls as they have become completely sedentary amongst the trees, making them extremely susceptible to head trauma. It does not take much thought to extrapolate out that our modern sedentary lifestyles are causing our brains to shrink too, since the body will always eliminate any unnecessary baggage not deemed useful.
Bringing us to the act of exercise. I love to exercise but I have learned how to harness its benefits in a short amount of time, unless I am playing a sport or exercising in a social group which takes the beneficial outcomes up a notch or two. Remember that exercise should be enjoyable and not a tedious chore. If someone is short on time or going through a stressful time in their life, I would prefer them to focus on movement quality rather than beating themselves up for an hour in the gym. An infrared sauna session will take care of the sweating component and enhance proper detoxification as you will be in a parasympathetic state. I always think about the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder.” There are times when you should push your body to the limit, but those instances are few and far between for the majority of us walking on this earth.
You may be somebody that loves going to the gym and I applaud that. Keep doing your thing if that makes you happy. I would encourage you to spend some of that time on mobility drills, breathing patterns, and motor control to create more resiliency for your structure. For those of you that dread rolling out of bed to hit the treadmill or just want to go home to your family after a long day of work, play around with movement throughout your day. Have a yoga mat on hand, set a timer every hour for some stretching, or you could even just do eye movements if you have to answer phones all day. Explore different movement, access forgotten ranges of motion, and be a kid again on occasion. Do not take life too seriously.
If you would like assistance on your health journey and are fed up with the conventional medical model, then contact our office at (727) 789-4020 and Janine will get you all set up for your initial consultation. I look forward to meeting you and helping you to be your best self.