The human body is designed to move. However we label it; movement, physical activity, or exercise – most of us have heard plenty about the health benefits and yet so many still struggle to do it. Why is that?
Our lives have become structured in a way that makes it easy to not move; we sit in cars, we sit at desks, we sit on the sofa at night to relax. We take elevators to avoid a flight or two of stairs. We eat out or drive through, avoiding even the small movements of prep/cook/cleanup in our own kitchens. We shop online and have it delivered to us. We hire people to maintain our homes – inside and out. This all adds up.
For some people “exercise” brings about images of “fitness people” and “working out” and gyms – things they cannot relate to, find unappealing, or out of reach. Some believe exercise is just for looking better (wrong) or losing weight (helpful, but that’s mostly diet).
Fundamentally, movement makes us feel capable, confident, and free. Fitness – defined on your own terms in the context of your own life – is simply the state of your body, mind and spirit to live the life you’d like to lead and do the things you’d like to do.
Fitness is nothing about a gym. It’s about being up to the tasks of your life, not just the mundane but also all the fun stuff. It’s about resilience, and vitality, and immunity. Fitness in a gym is fun (for some), but fitness for life is golden.
Exercise became a thing as we engineered movement out of our life. We realized we had to add it back in, because our individual (and collective) health was deteriorating without it. Now Exercise is used as a prescription to off-set a non-moving lifestyle and for relief from what ails us. It can work that way for sure, but none of that sounds particularly appealing or motivating.
How about this; no matter how you start, the more you move the better your body will function and the better you will feel. Your muscles, connective tissues, bones, heart and lungs will all benefit. Balance and coordination will improve, as will your mood. You’ll get stronger, sturdier, more resistant to the stresses of life. Yes, ultimately what you need to do depends on what you want to be able to do and sometimes professional help is warranted to achieve those results. But, since movement is fundamental to the health of the whole system, your body loves it all.
You really can start with just moving around more. Simple stuff. Walk – the kids, the dog, with your partner, or just yourself. Park a little further away when you’re out running around. Take the stairs whenever you can. Shop, clean, do yard work. Walking is exactly the type of physical activity we are most adept at, and it delivers a lot of bang for your buck, not to mention the minimal risk of injury. If you did nothing else but walk a lot you’d be in better shape than most Americans.
When you’re ready to step up your game, add some movements that challenge your balance, coordination, range of motion, and strength. At this level, 2x/week for 30-60 minutes can lead to truly significant changes. Physical limitations from health conditions or previous injuries? There are always ways to work with or around those things. Remember; you’re designed to move.
The bottom line is this: movement, or the lack of it, affects how we feel physically and emotionally. Movement can make us feel, perform and live better, regardless of age, size, and experience. Get rid of your preconceived notions of how it should be done (they’re keeping you stuck), and just get moving. Who knows what you may be motivated to do if you were feeling better?