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Natural movement and our bodies

natural movement and our bodies
Ever think about whether the type of workouts we are doing are actually the right type for our bodies? Well that question does need to be asked and also put into context. This article will hopefully get you thinking about what may be the best types of exercise for our current lifestyle.

What our bodies are designed to do?

Well our bodies are designed to move, not sit around or stand still for hours on end. However while initially we are seen by many as just hunter gatherers, we are in fact able to adapt to many scenarios. One thing is for certain though, we are not designed to be as sedentary as we are now, technology has come on leaps and bounds and way too quick for us to have managed to adapt to it and be healthy at the same time. Our evolution hasn’t quite caught up with that yet.

We are therefore still genetically, creatures of movement and by not allowing ourselves to move more often has lead us to a decline in cardiovascular health, loss of muscle size, deterioration in bone density, joint issues and higher body fat percentages and much more.

Our modern lifestyle

While us humans are the most creative and innovative of all earths creatures, our advances in technology and our modern lifestyle isn’t ideal for our genetic physical makeup. As already alluded to, our bodies haven’t caught up with our modern way of life.

Conversely we have also ended up in a catch 22 situation where our diets and modern lifestyle has left us in a position that we would find it difficult  to cope with life like our ancestors who lived less than 100 years ago.

Over the last 50-60 odd years or so our physical life has changed dramatically. Most labour intensive jobs and house hold chores have been replaced by machines and various appliances and devices. We now spend most of our lives sitting in front of a TV or computer, playing games on games consoles and drive everywhere instead of walking. On top of that our diets are poor and a cause for the increase in obesity and diabetes we have now.

Despite this we are living longer though, so it’s not all completely bad news (please see more on this subject in my life expectancy post).

What does all the above mean to us?

Well as far as getting more mobile and active, it leaves us in a bit of a quandary, what and how should we be training our bodies in order to keep it fit and healthy. In the way it is designed for, but given our modern sedentary lifestyle we have become accustom to?

Firstly, there is no question that we need to move more often. Life makes it difficult though. Even as I type this I’m sitting here knowing I should be moving around. I also know I have many hours of work I need to do in front of the computer. I’m also old enough to remember when there was no internet or even home computers and was considerably more active for it and that annoys me.

It’s an unfortunate fact that our bodies have got used to not moving and therefore when we do move we can often encounter issues with mobility, posture, we suffer stiffness, aches and pains, strains, sprains, bad backs and knees, the list goes on.

However we are forced to make the best of our given situation and given that we should and can make improvements to our health by just moving more often on a regular basis and adjusting our posture we should do so.

What should we do to help our bodies do what it’s made for?

Given the above, we should therefore strives to move more often. My exercise section has various options for the regular trainer which does incorporate many natural movement exercises. But for the purpose of this article I’m going to be mentioning ways to enhance our natural movement to improve our mobility. Also doing these activities on a regular basis will help eliminate many issues associated with going from inactivity followed to doing high intensity workouts.

For those who are time constraint or unable to workout to a great deal for whatever reason, simply find time to get up and walk around, climb some stairs or take 5 minutes to do a few basic exercises. This will go a long way to improving your overall health. We all just need to keep moving more often.

For those who can dedicate more to freeing your body from its modern constraints and have time to do regular exercise to allow your body to adapt to what it should be able to do, then the following may be of interest.

This is not about building a physique, but rather about building a good practical physical foundation for our human form and body. For those looking to apply some more natural movement into their lives, then this is for you.

While regular workouts with weights, various machines and cardio equipment have been the staple of many people’s workouts, the real world movement of the human body actually is designed for a different set of movements, some of which I do include in my fitness and conditioning exercise list.

Firstly do mostly activities that train the body as a whole, using multi joints at the same time. You don’t have to lift weights to do this, anything that gets the body moving as a whole and working your stabiliser muscles will do. I would suggest doing various activities pretty much everyday not just exercises, but a conscious decision to move every day doing an activity that gets your body moving.

Here is a list of activities to help:

  • The exercises I mention in the ‘conditioning exercise’ list
  • Gardening
  • House work
  • Washing the car
  • Walking on uneven surfaces (can use poles on very rough terrain and get the upper body involved)
  • Stair climbing
  • Lifting unusual objects
  • Dancing
  • Skipping
  • Jumping
  • Swimming
  • Balance exercises
  • Mobility drills
  • Running up/down hills
  • Scrambling
  • Climbing – trees, rocks, mountains
  • Assault/obstacle course
  • Martial Arts
  • Boxing

For those that want the ultimate in functional training and are fit enough and able to recover, then bodyweight calisthenics training and/or even parkour will give you that. Or if you are looking for more then take a look at animal flow exercises or Ido portal for those looking for a way to increase their general strength, core strength, joint strength, agility, stability, flexibility and body awareness.

What are the benefits of natural movement exercises and activities?

Apart from your regular exercise health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, improved body composition, strength, cardio ability etc. Natural movement exercise tend to also benefit participants in improving overall mobility, functional strength, joint health (if done properly), flexibility, posture and balance, all things that will help them in everyday life, now and into their mature years.

Reality check and summary

I want to put a caveat here for the above. Some of the more extreme activities above require a certain level of fitness, strength, mobility and practise. The problem with trying to do what our bodies are designed to do with our modern lifestyles can often lead us into a number of issues and injuries.

My blog is about making and keeping you healthy, so let’s not get carried away. There are some that will suggest that you should be able to climb a tree or jump over objects because we are designed to do that, well no we don’t, even for survival situations, we aren’t in some kind of wild west or zombie movie, we are living in the real modern world. Therefore I don’t need to be able to do all that……..all I want is good health, fitness and enough mobility with the ability to do most tasks now and in the future.

Some of us have been sitting around for years doing nothing, so any exercise that places uneven stress, often uncontrolled stress on the body needs to be done gradually over many months to reverse how our bodies have adapted to this inactivity.

Remember you need to do many of the more challenging activities mixed with other less challenging activities regularly, as our bodies aren’t able to go from 8 hours sleep then 14-15 hours of slow paced lazy life and then expect it to cope with an assault course……Also to bear in mind, that with our modern sedentary lifestyle and doing what our ancestors did  a few hours a week isn’t going to help when injuries happen. No they did this every day, all day, all their lives and so their bodies were use to it.

But do get moving, practise better posture and do things that keep you active daily. It doesn’t have to be exercise, it can be regular manual labour combined with a stroll up and down some hills, just get the whole body moving. Remember to go slow and steady and be patient.