Humans are ME(a)NT to MOVE.
Our innate bioengineering with the gift of limbs and complex energy provision systems in the body, enable us to have inertia. And aside from physical movement, human beings are wired to want more.
To grow and perform… all of which is the metaphorical enactment of our physical design to be able to move from one state of being to the next.
So much of our Western life however, is designed for convenience, for ease and for comfort. As much as this can be considered ‘progression,’ it has in fact had a negative impact on the way humans make benefit of the physiological design of their bodies- to move and set in motion. Ironically, the word movement contains the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root *meue which means ‘to push away.’ Fitness and weight loss regimes have blurred the lines of movement comparative to exercise- and for those for whom pumping weights and raising a sweat in a gym doesn’t resonate, they end up ‘pushing away’ the goodness that low grade, low intensity movement can afford one.
Movement is an important precursor for the optimal functioning of so many of our body’s critical systems. Everything from hormone regulation and metabolism, to immune system function, blood flow and circulation, digestion and detoxification, is affected by movement. And again, it is important to reiterate, this is not movement or endurance sport, this is low intensity, consistent movement. Movement also triggers cerebral functioning as it activates neural pathways that facilitate learning. Many ailments and disease can be turned around if we start to use our bodies for their intended purpose. James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., director of Obesity Solutions at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Arizona State University notes “Excess sitting is now linked with 35 diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression,”
The psychological effects of movement are also endearing. Movement helps release accumulated stress. It can boost your mood and improve your sleep. It can also enhance mental alertness which, together with building new neural pathways, provides a powerful combination for learning and improvement.
What type of movement?
As you’re reading this, what movement can you do right now in whatever position you’re in? If you’re sitting, can you stand up? Walk around? Wiggle your toes, lift your legs, stretch your arms, do an upper body twist? If we can develop the habit to challenge ourselves to be continually mindful of how to counter periods of sedentary states with a state of movement, we are tapping into our body’s potential and it will respond positively.
- Can you alter periods of desk time with standing desk time? You may not have the luxury of an Ergotherapy Standing desk but can you create this with a few crates or stacked books? Alternating sitting and standing desk time will improve circulation and aid your concentration.
- Movement is posture awareness too-can you straighten your torso, contract your abdomen, focus on expansive diaphragm breathing through your nose?
- If no screen sharing is needed for work meetings, can you host a telecon and use the time to walk around your home/ office/ garden?
- Can you set yourself a fun challenge to do some plyometric exercises every hour, on the hour? 10 squats, 10 calf raises, 10 knee lifts?
- Put on some great tunes and do a bit of housework with rhythmic beats!
- Struggling to formulate a solution or crack a problem at the office? How about a quick 15 minute walk outside to get moving and strategise a resolution in your mind. Not only will the fresh air do wonders for your brain fog, but if you can walk in a park (barefoot even!) you’ll be more grounded and centred upon returning to your desk.
- If you have green fingers, a bit of gardening work is great movement!
- Could you pop a small backpack on and walk to the shops for the mid-week groceries? Listen to a podcast whilst you’re doing this and you’re learning too!
A balanced contrast
The ‘pancake flip’ (aka balanced contrast) of movement is rest. The essence of mobility is two-fold:
- Active mobility
- Passive mobility
The counter of all good movement is understanding and honoring the rest and repair cycle of the body. Ensuring sufficient sleep is vital- so too is decluttering and emptying the mind with rest- be this in the form of meditation or mindfulness or by a hike in nature, time in the garden or playing with kids and pets.
If getting moving is challenging for you, rewire your brain with the reward mechanism that for all movement you engage in, the receipt of rest (never mind fluid body health) is a just reward. As Steve Maraboli, author of ‘Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience‘ notes, “take action! An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of intention.”
Intend to use your body for which it was designed.
Action with movement.
Achieve health, alertness and body optimization.