Move for your body’s design is a continuation of Health Made Simple, discussed in previous entries.
Is it your goal to move or exercise more in the New Year?
It can be a confusing and complicated journey with new and conflicting advice coming out everywhere you turn. First, let’s think about your health in simple terms and ask, “What does the body need to be healthy?” As previously discussed, here are the 4 KEY Requirements.
- Movement: To move for your body’s design requires more, and different, types of movement that are currently “normal” for the average person.
- Fuel: Provide the building blocks for life. You are what you eat and drink.
- Recharge: Focused time and energy put toward regenerating and restoring the mind and body.
- Brain/Body Connection: The 3 categories above are typically what people think about when improving their health. The things above happen effectively through an optimally functioning nervous system, free from obstruction. (psst…We can help with this!)
Our bodies tolerate great inadequacies but we cannot survive without these four things. In addition, we can’t be healthy and perform at our best if there are inefficiencies.
It’s important to note that you are NOT invincible if you fulfill these requirements perfectly (which is unrealistic for anyone). However, striving to improve in these areas increases your odds to tackle anything you want – whether that is sitting through the day pain free, hiking up a mountain on your next vacation, or getting the dream job you want.
If you want more from your body, get back to basics, and keep it simple. It may also help to think about improving your health as a journey, not a destination. This is something you continue to tweak throughout your life (not just the next 30 days).
The Why Behind the What (of Movement)
We know movement is required for an optimal life simply because ALL other requirements in life depend on our ability to move. For example, breathing requires optimal movement of the rib cage, expansion and contraction of the diaphragm, and optimal spinal mobility to best fulfill our requirement for oxygen. Movement is required for life. Optimal movement is required for a maximized life.
Movement is a primary sign of life and a basic requirement for all living things. Even a plant, that seems to be stuck in the ground and without the ability to escape predation, moves a great total distance every day!
Movement is required for life. Optimal movement is required for a maximized life. No one would disagree with this principle. The only question is: What strategies best fulfill this requirement?
Move for your body’s design…in other word’s “Here’s what to do!”
Our lives are filled with daily stressors like sitting at desks, driving, working on computers, watching TV; even toxic food and emotional chaos contribute to the poor movement patterns seen in the average human. We’ve progressively become less active and this change for the worse has placed us into environments that are pushing our species away from its natural design and the flourishing state of health we deserve. Starting with a basic mobility program is the best way to begin restoring healthy movement.
Follow the links below to watch the instructional videos.
After mobility, the first form of training is lifting heavy. Being strong translates into every area of life from enhanced performance to optimal health. Relative strength is fundamental to thriving in our modern world; yet, for the vast majority of all civilized populations, it is nearly non-existent. It’s no surprise degenerative diseases, workplace injuries, and disabilities are commonplace.
Lifting heavy is a relative term. Heavy for one person may feel like a walk in the park for another. The basic premise is that we must put our muscles, ligaments and bones under tension for them to adapt.
It is in this step that scaling the movements to where you are at physically is very important. For example: While a beginner may perform a body weight squat, an intermediate a goblet squat, or an advanced trainee a back or front squat with weights, the stimulus is the same. This principle of scalability can be applied to all movements for both lifting heavy and conditioning.
The movements below mimic activities performed in daily life.
- Overhead press
- Bench press
Contrary to conventional wisdom, hours on a treadmill or miles on the pavement each week are not necessary for conditioning of the cardiovascular system or fat loss. In fact, evidence shows they may be detrimental.
While the popular trends in fitness are still long distance endurance events – running, triathlons, and “Boot Camp” style training (consisting of extended intervals for longer duration) these are not the optimal approach to conditioning. This step can be fulfilled by simply introducing intervals (a period of work – followed by a period of rest) for 5-15 total minutes. This includes using body weight movements, kettle bells, compound exercises, sprinting or even alternating between walking fast and walking at a moderate pace.
There is a delicate balance between training and recovery. Adequate sleep, de-loading weeks, and reduced volumes are part of the “art” of fulfilling move for your body’s design. The simplest approach is paying attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle cues of the body. Not every day needs to be a training day! While we have considerably more requirement for movement than most people expect, sometimes a bike ride with the kids or walking in nature is just as valuable.
Work toward fulfilling the movement requirement on a weekly basis. Here are some suggestions.
- Joint to joint movement – Daily
- Soft tissue integrity (Foam Rolling) – 3 to 5 times per week
- Lift Heavy – 2 to 3 sessions per week
- Go Fast – 2 to 3 sessions per week
- Move Slow – Daily
Where Do I Start?
Start with Baby Steps.
You are working toward fulfilling your body’s requirement for movement for your lifetime, not just for a few weeks. If you currently do little movement in your daily life, here’s an example of where to start.
First Week: Joint-to-joint movement 6-7x, Walk for 20 minutes 2x
Second Week: Week 1 + 2 sessions of foam rolling
Third Week: Add 1 day of body weight “lift heavy” exercises
Fourth Week: Add 1 day of “go fast” alternating fast walking with moderate pace walking
Track your progress
Buy a colorful journal or use technology (FitBit, Apple Watch, Garmin) to help you set goals and track your progress.
Find a buddy
Enlist a family member, friend, or co-worker to help keep each other accountable.
Try Something New
Try different classes. Group fitness classes can help you fulfill all or some of the movement requirement.
Examples: Crossfit, Orangetheory Fitness, Pilates, Barre, Yoga, Cycling/Spinning, Kickboxing, Barbell classes (Body Pump), etc.
Seek help from a personal trainer for one-on-one attention to help you feel comfortable using weights & equipment at a gym
If increased energy, stamina, strength, balance, flexibility and more aren’t enough motivation to get you to move. Perhaps a few of the suggestions below can serve as extrinsic motivation for you.
- Smart phone apps allow you to set and track movment goals
- Some group classes have a “no show” fee if you sign up for a class and don’t show up.
- Some health or life insurance policies reward you for completing workouts and other healthy activities.
If you move for your body’s design, the result will be improvement in each of the following areas:
- Cardiovascular/Respiratory endurance – the ability of the body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
- Stamina – The ability of the body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
- Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of units to apply force.
- Flexibility – The ability to optimize range of motion at a given joint.
- Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination or muscular units to apply maximum force in minimum time.
- Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle or a repeated movement.
- Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into singular distinct movements.
- Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
- Balance – The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its base.
- Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.
**the above were adapted from CrossFit**
Everything at the Same Time
Our culture has been known to celebrate high levels of skill specialization and has even socially accepted some skills as healthy and others as unhealthy. For example, a marathoner who has high cardiovascular/respiratory endurance and stamina is judged as healthier than a power lifter who has high levels of strength and balance. If we define health as optimal cellular function – in the absence of all requirements being fulfilled – neither is functioning optimally.
This is a good time to remember that, in order to be living an extraordinary life, we need to be doing everything, at the same time, for a period of time, preferably a lifetime. Following the MOVE Protocol alone will improve our health but will not make us optimal.
If we take the endurance athlete from our example and have him compete in a power-lifting competition, he would fail miserably, and likewise the powerlifter in a marathon. Specializing means focusing on only one aspect at the expense of the rest. This isn’t necessarily bad if your goal is to qualify for the Olympics in powerlifting or the marathon, but it’s not going to fulfill the movement requirements for optimal function over your lifetime.
Having a clear Brain-Body Connection allows full integration of all the requirements. Each is dependent on neurological function, and inherent in each requirement is the need for synergistic activity. In order for the body to work together, a proper nerve supply is paramount.
Insert Chiropractic here.