Why is movement so important to us?

Inactivity is a killer. Worse apparently than just about anything else. It comes across that sedentary life leads to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, neural degeneration and arthritis and eventually once the system is broken down enough, death. But this is all yesterdays news, right? We all know this. Rolling stones gather no moss and so forth. It's in the old sayings, equally it's in our very fabric to move and to exert ourselves. You feel better after a long walk. You sleep well after a days' hard work. Etcetera. Etcetera.

And why is it that we are not all running marathons every other weekend?

Humans developed in times of hardship. We grew into the beings we are by being able to catch meat for the dinner table and the ingestion of fat and protein allowed our brains to grow. This led us to become more and more sophisticated with the use of tools and mental skills. Great. In a way it also sowed the seed for inactivity. Fast forward a few thousand years and the tools have taken over. Now there is very little hardship in our lives. We can feed ourselves reliably (after all food comes from the supermarket) and we have various forms of transport to take us from one place to another. We sit down all day. We lie down all night. Where now, is the ancient hunter gatherer that was the peak of strength and fitness?

I feel that there is a subtle change in the wind. Maybe the tide is slowly starting to turn. I say this because mass participation sports are now more popular than ever. More and more people flock to running, cycling and triathlon events, the mud and obstacle course runs are booming. New and exciting combinations of sports are cropping up all the time. This is our very DNA guiding us. The thing is that people are finding it fun to move again. Fun. Exactly. It's becoming socially acceptable to exercise for the sake of exercise, it's becoming ok to go and have fun. Sweaty and muddy is no longer frowned upon - as long as you get a medal for it. But the bottom line is, that the reason why this shift is happening is because people feel the need to exert their bodies. It makes them feel better.

When we are pushing ourselves physically a number of things happens to us physically and mentally. There is a surge of hormones. The cardiovascular system is pushed into over drive. Muscles go through full cycles of contraction and relaxation. Our metabolism is kicked up a few notches. We reach mental clarity. Afterwards there is the post exercise glow. The endorphin filled haze when everything feels rosy and the muscle ache has not yet kicked in. We can ride the high from a few hours up to a few days - depending on the scale and scope of the endeavour undertaken.

The benefits of regular exercise are obvious. The leaner physique, the high energy levels, the better ability to focus and to concentrate, and the lower risk of death by various unpleasant diseases. When learning new skills the brain will adapt and become better able to handle more complex scenarios, which results in finer motor skills and better cognitive functioning that is sustained for decades - which may even put off dementia for a decade or two.Yet for many people this is still not sufficient motivation to get moving. It's too much hard work. It hurts too much. It's Tuesday. I have the ironing to do. I have a kids birthday party to attend to this weekend. There's always an excuse. I think the reason for this is that these people have not found what they enjoy doing. They need to somehow learn to have fun again. And here is the rub. These people are still too stuck in the old fashioned social conditioning by which having fun is frivolous and unacceptable. "One must simply work hard and then stare at the telly when at home. And don't complain about it."

Luckily there is a lot of variety available now. Running and walking are the easiest activities to get into. Cycling and swimming follow closely in the numbers of participants. Team sports are popular and readily accessible. Still, the variety can be found everywhere. There is the crossfit, the gymnastics, the martial arts, the various dance forms and gym classes. You can get into stand up paddling or kayaking or surfing very easily. Even shooting and archery clubs are widely spread. More and more people are realising that they don't have to aspire to compete at a national or international level to get into these sports. Heck, they don't have to compete at all. They can simply partake for their own enjoyment and for the benefit for their health.

If the threshold is still too high or you simply cannot find the time to go anywhere for your exercise, despair not. You can do it all within our daily activities. You can transform your life into a constant piece of movement art and a mixture of various forms of exercise. It boils down to awareness. Being present in the moment and seizing the opportunities when they arise. For example, walk a part of your commute, take the stairs instead of the lift, squat instead of bend over, do things with your non-dominant hand, stop slouching in the sofa - sit cross legged on the floor, do sitting down exercises when on public transport, in a traffic jam, or when in the office. Even things like gardening and hoovering can become sources of strength, coordination and balance. Brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, standing on one leg and with your eyes closed makes it a lot more exciting - and fun.

And this is what it boils down to. Carpe diem. Learn to listen to your body. Allow yourself to have fun again. Seize that childlike sense of wonder in the physical movement - do things simply to find out if and how you can. This kind of stimulation is much deeper and much more satisfying for your brain the artificial high intensity bombardment that assaults your brain from the TV.

This is why movement is important to us. It makes us feel like we are living our lives in harmony with our heritage and DNA. It makes us feel complete.


You can take the first steps to learning how to improve your health, vitality, energy levels and longevity by joining us in our Movement 101 Workshop In Shepperton.

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