We are almost at the end of August, and I am finishing up my August 30-day challenge of obliques. You might find it hard to believe: but this has been my favourite challenge so far.
I have discovered some new exercises that I have never done before. I will definitely be keeping the “Woodchopper swings” in the September 30-day challenge!
But you might find my 30-day challenges absolutely distasteful.
If so, I think that’s great!
Because the same way that I champion ditching the diet to face the feelings, I advocate ditching the gym and moving your body.
Well, ditch the gym if you hate it.
Stay if you love it!
What I really care about is movement!
Consider a toddler or a 4-year-old: they aren’t worried about doing exercises or “do I look fat in this?”. They are busy having fun, moving around, wiggling, dancing, running, jumping, and stretching. They move because their body hungers for movement.
Your body hungers for movement as well.
Just imagine: it considers chewing movement.
If we go back to even fifty years ago, we lived a much more active lifestyle than the modern sedentary one. We walked to catch the bus or train and almost always walked to cycled to the grocery store. Now we hop in the car just to pop down to the corner store.
Two hundred years ago, life around the planet was entirely distinct. Work and jobs were dissimilar. Transport was radically different. Consider how much more movement people had in their everyday lives – exercise was typically unnecessary.
Now we guilt those who don’t exercise.
Perhaps you have felt your body ask for more movement. It might be a cramp or twinge in your lower back or a slight ache in your knees. Sometimes it’s more than that!
Consider how often your body might have asked for movement, and you’ve indulged it with a walk to the kitchen or directly to the fridge. So, you satisfy the request for activity. Still, you grab a bite to eat because you are at the fridge, even if you’re not actually hungry.
Of course, the only reason I use this example is that it is my own example. Or rather, it was me.
Moving away from pain
I cannot tell you how many times I get up from my chair and walk to the kitchen with writer’s block.
I recognise it now for what it is. This is not hunger or a request for food. It is simply a feeling of discomfort; I am forced to sit in the chair, write, and, therefore, squirm to remove myself from the hot seat!
Let me move away from this! I’m anxious, and I want to escape. Even if it’s only a two-minute walk around the house to clear my mind. It is instinctual: I often find myself in the kitchen before I even realise what I’ve done.
How movement serves to calm or energise
Have you noticed that when you’re anxious or stressed, you walk and move quickly? On the other hand, when you are tired or depressed, you move lethargically.
But there is another option: when you are tired, have you ever made yourself walk briskly? What happened to the way you were feeling?
If you were stressed and anxious, if you slow down your walking pace, have you noticed that you calmed down as well?
I was recently upset in my office: I took about 2 hours to do some colouring. My fingers, hands, and arms’ intentional, slow movement ultimately worked through the emotional response.
The same way that your mind can rule your body – your body also has the power to influence your mind and your mood.
Physical activity and the human body
It’s all tied together – every organ, your emotions and thoughts, and even your senses.
Consider a recent finding by doctors that were studying fight/flight. The protein Osteocalcin is responsible for triggering our response. So, you know that saying of excitement or fear, “I can feel it in my bones” – well, you have no idea how true that is! You CAN feel it in your bones!
Many recent studies examine the relationship between our body and movement. They notice the impact movement has on the interrelationships between organs and even emotions. Different types of activities help move the body out of a depressed state. Some doctors now prescribe running, yoga, tai chi and qigong for depression.
Of course, depression also links to the gut and gut bacteria or flora. Physical movement is essential in bowel movements and the digestion of food. Given that about eighty per cent of your immune system is in the gut, what do you think is the effect of movement on your immune system?
Consider how movement can give your skin a healthy glow, as more oxygen is pumped through to all of your cells. Not only is your blood flow affected, so is the lymphatic system of the body. The lymphatic system removes toxins more effectively when you are in movement. This allows all of your cells, including your skin, to filter metabolic waste more efficiently.
When you consider that movement improves blood flow to your cells, remember this also means that your brain is receiving more oxygen. This might be one reason why exercise helps clear brain fog, allowing you more significant focus. A side-effect of regular movement is that it reduces anxiety, making the Fight/Flight system less reactive.
Movement for life
Are you convinced yet that moving improves your thinking, helps you build stronger relationships and provides you with the ability to focus on your priorities and purpose in life?
While some people really enjoy “exercise”, I don’t really.
And yet here I am, doing another 30-day challenge. I’m already thinking about the one that I want to do for September!
I don’t believe in exercise for the purpose of weight loss, fitness and looking better. Don’t get me wrong, I think those are all fantastic secondary effects!
As a society, we need to focus on movement. Those who can move quickly and freely have more confidence in themselves.
Just knowing you can keep up with your toddler is a boost in self-esteem! Believe me. I’ve been there!
Imagine: dogs or cats, after a fight, walk away and then shake. They literally shake the anxiety, the fear and the stress or tension out of their bodies as they walk away.
Consider a heated discussion at the office. After you’ve had it, you walk into the bathroom and have a cathartic shake or dance – moving all that pent up energy out of your body! Hopefully, with no one looking! Can you imagine if we did this?
Perhaps, instead, you choose something more acceptable. You go for a run, or you throw punches at a sparring partner. As you keep moving, you find that movement frees you from fear and anxiety, as you can shake it off more easily.
A whole new world of choices and options opens up when we have more significant movement and flexibility. Activities that were previously out of our ability and comfort zone become possible. This allows us to feel more empowered, more energetic and focused.
When your body works, you have more choices and can choose to do more things.
Born to run – or just made to move?
Let me be clear – not everyone was born to run! Personally, I love
running jogging. I’m even happy just walking the dogs at a leisurely pace.
But you don’t have to smash out the reps or train for a marathon to be fluid in movement.
The more you move in a particular way, the more your body learns to be fluid in that specific movement. For example, suppose you are only training your biceps. In that case, that’s the only muscles in your body that are getting fluidity and training. There will be some small benefits for your back and shoulders, but the reality is that you are ignoring the rest of your body.
Exercise is optional.Anonymous
Movement is essential.
Are you using exercise as your “get out of jail free” card – because you don’t have an active lifestyle?
Movement is ancient – consider how the human race has
All this movement since the beginning of time. Activity is essential to remaining healthy, even if it’s just leaning over to pick up the toys or hanging out the laundry!
Find movement that you love!
Forget about the calories burnt – focus on how your body feels. Consider the possibility of simply “training movement” rather than taking up a particular exercise regime.
If you aren’t interested in becoming a bodybuilder, why limit yourself to only those movements and muscle groups?
Back in March 2019, I did a challenge of “Move through March”. Each day we attempted a new type of movement within our Facebook group. There was dance, walking, yoga, stretching, and even just meandering through a museum. It was an exploration of activity– rather than an organised workout. Some of the examples include:
- Try out a class at your local gym/YMCA/Community centre – something that you have never done before
- Go and play with your kids – whatever they are playing, you have to play!
- Start your day with 2 songs of dancing
- Go extreme – what’s the most extreme sport you’ve ever tried?
- Try out an online Yoga or Qigong video
- Go and visit a local historic site or gardens that you have never visited
- Get in 10,000 steps today
- Try out a team sport – indoor soccer, volleyball, basketball, etc.
- Connect with nature – visit local gardens, lakes or parks.
- Try a kettlebell workout or something with weights that you’ve never done before
- Go for a walk, even in the cold weather
- Can you do 20 squats?
As you can imagine, there were 31 activities in total! It wasn’t about getting fit. The invitation was to experiment and find a movement that jived! To try things outside of your comfort zone and see what you discovered you enjoyed.
What movement do you enjoy? Start small and build from there!
Now, keep moving!
It doesn’t matter what you discover a love for – whether salsa dancing, karate, tai chi or walking. Perhaps you enjoy the social nature of exercise or a team sport.
Whatever it is, start with what you know and then gently expand from there. Play with your strengths – so if you are naturally competitive, find something that pushes you to compete.
If you are social, what activities can you do that incorporate movement and social aspects of life? If you love animals, perhaps you want to walk a dog, visit a rescue centre that needs dog walkers, or try out horseback riding.
Find the movement that you love, and then keep moving. The benefits will surprise you! Your body will respond with gratitude, appreciation and joy!