Movement = Health
Movement is essential for life. Its what we were designed to do. We were not meant to stick ourselves in stagnant positions all day, we were not meant to stand still all day and certainly not to sit all day. When we deny ourselves of regular movement, we are fighting our body's natural ability to maintain a balanced environment as well as disrupting the efficiency in which our body can heal itself.
Below is a brief description of ways that movement drastically impacts our wellbeing, followed by an example of how we can start taking "self-inventory" of our tension and restrictions. Lets start moving and exploring!
Movement = Less Pain.
Joint pain can be an indicator that there has been too much inactivity or chronic poor posture. Our bodies are excellent at adapting so if we spend our lives in certain positions, over time our body accept that as normal. For a simple example, if the extent of our movement is sitting at a desk typing away until its time to journey to the fridge to get something at shoulder height, we begin to lose the ability to reach overhead. This is where the old phrase “use it or lose it” comes into play. When we move exploring ranges of motion, not only are we freeing our tissues of sticky restrictions, we are also creating a pump like effect in our joints and promoting synovial fluid production which is our joints fluid lubricant.
Movement = Mental Health.
Movement allows our brains to focus on something other than what is going on outside of our bodies. We are made up of an extensive electrical network where every part of our body is constantly sending signals to our brain and our brain is sending signals to our body. The cerebellum, an area sending and receiving signals related to balance, coordination, our motor skill and even posture, is also sending and receiving signals related to thinking and emotion. Aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease tension and anxiety and increase
endorphin release. (2) By deregulating our nervous system, we become less reactive to our brains “fight or flight” response. In times like this, we may find ourselves encountering depression type symptoms and if you are, please contact your doctor. In the meantime, try increasing your movement and/or activity levels. If done at the appropriate levels for you, it definitely can’t hurt.
Aerobic movement has also been shown to increase an individual’s ability to sleep longer. (3) Again, boosting our moods increasing our ability to recover AND improving our mental health.
Movement = Immunity.
Our lymphatic system which is responsible for distributing immune cells throughout the body as well as removing the bad stuff like toxins and chemicals is not equip with a pump. Instead, it is our muscle contractions that “power” this system and pushes our lymph fluid through the system. In additionally, movement has been shown to Increase white blood cell concentration in the blood, increased neutrophil count and increased lymphocyte levels. (1) That is a significant effect. This, combined with the immune system boost we get from improved sleep, a less reactive nervous system and an improved mind/body connection all the sudden makes moving our number one ally in staying healthy.
1. Let’s Explore!
Pay attention to how it feels to move.
Listen to your body:
When you walk or run, do you feel pain or restriction? How long is your stride? Do your arms and legs swing freely? Do feel your hips moving? Are you able to look straight ahead?
When you stand, is your weight evenly on both feet? Is your weight evenly distributed on the whole foot? Do you feel like your weight is always toward the front of your foot?
When you sit, what is your head position? Are you slouched? Is there more pressure in any area than there should be?
When you work out or even warm up, can you feel your muscles working? Can you perform movements with proper form and range of motion? Do you feel and slight pains or restrictions stopping movement?
2. Let’s think about this!
Consider whether you’re moving as well as you could. What could improve? What would you like to see improve? What movements do you find yourself avoiding that you feel should not be a problem? Are you confident in the way you move going into a workout? You should be!
3. Let’s Evaluate!
How about other ways to move.
If you’re working out a certain way because you think you “should”, but it’s not fitting your body well, consider other options.
Or, if your current workout is going great but you’re curious about other possibilities, consider expanding your movement experiences anyway.
Everything from archery to Zumba is out there, waiting for you to come and try it out.
Remember: You don’t have to “work out” or “exercise” to move. And you don’t need to revamp your physical activity overnight, either.
Take your time. Do what you like. Pick one small new way you can move today — and do it.
Pedersen, B. (2007). Influence of Physical Activity on the Cellular Immune System: Mechanisms of Action. International Journal of Sports Medicine , 23-29.
Firestein, G. B. (2008). Firestein: Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, 8th ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders company.
Passos, G. P. (2010). Effect of acute physical exercise on patients with chronic primary insomnia. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine , 270-275.