Updated: Feb 28
At a time where we are becoming more aware of self care from the mental to the physical it makes all the more sense to begin a movement practice today, at any age, because we have a body and it wants to be moved. There are lots of different reasons to begin a movement practice but first what is a movement practice?
In the biggest and most encompassing stroke anything from exercise, to martial arts, yoga, tai chi, and sports are all smaller categories of movement philosophies.
On a deeper level, a movement practice is where we bring a heightened degree of awareness toward all movements from intentional exercise, to the remedial tasks of life, to forms of locomotion, to postures and positions to facial expressions, rhythms and alignments and it continues on. A movement practice is in going ever deeper into our bodies by observing, reflecting and then enacting through our physical form. It can be superficial and light or it can be incredibly expansive and deep. The main thing that matters is that we move.
There are many reasons to start moving from improved body composition, increase in complexity of movement patterns, a reduction of health issues from heart disease to diabetes, increased strength and energy, aids in fighting off osteoporosis, improved immune system, reduce pain, improve mood and is profoundly helpful in addressing depression and anxiety, increased confidence and libido, reduces stress and blood pressure. It’s also helpful in stimulating the mind and finding new ideas. Research shows that using our bodies in some kind of movement practice seems to be beneficial for us.
Our bodies want to move, our bodies evolved to move and it’s such a prominent part of our existence that our health is interwoven into our movement. Meaning, yes we get it, movement and exercise is important but what about the inverse, what happens when we take movement away?
We have heard of the forewarnings of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle that revolves around sitting and the health problems associated with that. But to accentuate things further, in extreme conditions bizarre and strange if not downright grotesque things can happen.
For example in the complete absence of movement, after some time the body begins to open up and adhere or bond to its environment, when we have a coma patient who is unable to move nurses or caregivers will frequently come in and literally move them, just lift and move them around a little bit to prevent bed sores from occurring where the body would develop sores from nothing more than constant contact (bad things tend to happen when anything is done for long periods at high frequency) the body opens up and starts to get stuck to the bedding making a mess of things which is prevented with a little movement. To even further the point of the relationship between movement and our health is the lymphatic system of our body, this is the drainage system that aids in the removal of cellular waste and toxins.
Unlike our cardiovascular system which is circulated with the aid of our heart, the heart powers the movement of blood in our body like an engine. The lymph system does not have an engine like the heart, instead it relies on mechanical movement. The lymphatic system is a series of chambers and each chamber is connected through a one way valve which as the chamber is compressed and by moving our bodies by pushing, pulling, squatting, bending, as we squeeze and compress the tissue these chambers in turn are squeezed and compressed pushing the lymph fluid to the next chamber.
When we don’t move around we can have issues with proper drainage in our bodies.
Another point to illustrate how our movement and our health is intimately tied together.
A test that is becoming ever more commonly used to gage for potential near future falls that could result in a fractured or broken hip for our senior population is simply sitting on the ground cross legged without using your hands.
If someone over 65 was unable to sit on the ground without using their hands there was a high chance that in the next 5 years the individual would likely have a fall that quite possibly breaks or fractures their hips (as we move into our senior years, osteoporosis becomes a problem along with loss of mobility) and once we break our hip, our movement decreases drastically. When our movement drops especially in our later years it seems to have a fairly direct correlation to our health. When our movement decreases it has a detrimental effect on our longevity. According to a study "The 1-Year Mortality of Patients Treated in a Hip Fracture Program for Elders" with the typical care, the 1-year mortality after experiencing a fractured hip within our elderly population was estimated to be 14-58% and that the relative risk of mortality increases by about 4% every year. The first year after a hip fracture seems to be the most crucial period.
With that said, the ability to sit on the ground without using your hands seems to greatly reduce the chances of a fall being life altering.
If we are just starting out even something as simple as starting with a routine walk can be beneficial and when we feel ready we can increase the workload with longer walks or same distance in less time to something completely different.
Gyms are great but we do not “need” to go to a gym to use our bodies and when we do the same movement in a different environment there are all sorts of new things for our body to adapt to. I.e., doing a pull up on a gymnastic bar is different from a solid metal bar one would typically find at a conventional gym, which is different from a pull up on rings to doing a pull up on a tree. In all these scenarios something new and different is experienced, its not just perceived in our mind, our body perceives this and adapts and changes accordingly.
Move, your body and your body will thank you for it.
Ultimately we get one body for our lifetime and we use it from running and hunting to breathing and eating to fighting and fucking, it seems to be a good idea to learn how to use this thing we call ourselves. As Socrates said “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable of.”