Physical wellbeing is not just about what you eat, even though your local health food shop might like you to think it is. It is just as much about movement. We all know this, we’ve been told it for as long as we can remember and the older we get the more imperative the directive seems to become. The question though is how much and how often. The advice filtering through from the experts seems to be changing. It used to be three times a week of a good half an hour to an hour of vigorous exercise and then you would be set, fit as a fiddle. Not so now, the latest advice that has been dominating my facebook page and the Internet is to move as often as possible and less vigorously than those three times a week sessions wanted us to do. In fact walking, not a give it all and sweat everything out at the gym session, is what is being touted as the healthiest form of movement. But you shouldn’t just walk, your movement should be varied including things such as squats, hanging and climbing and you should, of course, avoid sitting in those chairs for extended periods of time.
It makes sense when you think back to our ancestors living in tribal times. They didn’t go for a half an hour run and say ok, that will do me for a couple of days. They moved all day everyday, hunting, gathering, finding a location for the next campsite. There was no chance of their body getting fixed in a certain position because they never stayed in it for long enough.
Some of the healthiest and longest living people I know are people who incorporate natural and continuous movement into their everyday lives without even thinking about it. It’s just what they have always done and into old age continue to do. Our neighbour across the road is eighty-four, he’s an old farmer. He’s still got cattle that he has to get out of bed for early every morning, he can still jump across the creek, he’s still happy and as fit as a fiddle. My nan who lived until she was ninety seven used to walk up the road every day to go to the shops until she was well in her eighties. It was a good three quarters of an hour walk one way and then she’d walk back, her arms weighed down with heavy shopping bags. When we lived in Europe in the Swiss Alps for a while you would see the old people walking all the time, up and down the steep hills, negotiating the slippery walkways, carefully making their way up the stone steps. They were fit and strong, happy and healthy.
Our sedentary life style of computers, televisions, tablets and mobile phones is not only slowing us down and making us unfit, it is slowly and insidiously making us sick.
So the question is, in a world that often demands we sit at a desk hour after hour and then for relaxation we lounge with some sort of screen in front of us, how do we bring movement, continuous and varied movement into our day? In my ideal world I would get up and move every hour to every half an hour, it doesn’t often happen that way, but that’s the aim, and I guess it’s good to have one. One thing that I have come to realise though is that if I’m going to move I have to take the task out of it, I have to remove the chore and the need to do it right. It has to be about fun, about wanting to get up and move. So I’ve gone back to my childhood and looked at all the ways I used to love to move. And I did love to move, I was constantly moving in the way of play and fun. So now in my adult life I’ve pulled those activities from childhood forward. It’s such a fun process rediscovering the ways you used to move, what used to make you sing and laugh. So I’ve got a hoola-hoop. I used to be able to do all sorts of fun tricks with. At first I couldn’t even make it stay up around my waist, but now I can and I’ve almost made it come back up from my knees. I’ve got a basketball hoop and a ball. I go to the basket ball hoop intending to be there for five minutes, ten, fifteen at the most but without fail get distracted by the swish of the ball passing through the net and find I stay there much longer than I intended. There’s a soccer ball that I’m learning to juggle and a skipping rope that I’ve re-learnt how to do peppers with and how to skip backwards. And there’s a bit of climbing and hanging going on too. I can almost do one chin up by myself, almost.
So yes, I know, if you’re stuck in a cramped office somewhere this could all be a bit tricky, but go on, challenge yourself, see what you can come up with. Let yourself go back to that little kid who just couldn’t sit still and see what it is that he or she would have you do. It’s got to be more fun than sitting in front of a screen all day.
For more information about how good moving is for you have a look at this website http://www.katysays.com/