AL NATRINS – a qualified Krav Maga Instructor and Personal Trainer – is guest posting for us. He shares why moving naturally brings big benefits.
“For the vast majority of our evolutionary history, humans had to exert ourselves – often quite strenuously – to get food. We naturally spent a lot of time outdoors in the sun, walking, hunting, gathering, and performing various other physically-oriented tasks. We had no concept of this as “exercise” or “working out”. It was just life.” (Chris Kresser)
Picture the long days in nature, just being human. No worries. No mortgages, no credit cards, no traffic jams, no office desks, no computers, no ‘devices’, no pollution, no newspapers. Sure, maybe a couple of bears. But hey – back in the day we could actually move it if we had to!
Back then, not only was life simpler and far less stressfulbut our ancestors moved – naturally – all day long. Now, our modern life not only chronically stresses our body, it keeps us chronically sedentary and sitting still all day long.
Lack of physical activity has a huge impact on our health. Moving regularly not only protects us from disease, it prevents oxidative damage and inflammation – the primary mechanisms underlying heart disease and most modern, degenerative diseases. So move. Use it. Or you will lose it!
This is Part 5 of the series: ‘Detox? Or Not-To-Tox? In the first three parts we talked about the tedious ritual of ‘detoxing’ and ‘cleansing’; the longer-term restorative benefits of nutrient-dense, traditional foods; and the toxic combination of chronic stress and poor sleep
Why is movement a central element of our philosophy?
Well, one reason is that it’s absolutely crucial for the proper functioning of our lymphatic system. The lymphatic system – which comprises a series of ‘drains’ around our body – is intimately involved in our ability to detox well.
A second important reason, is that lymph fluid starts in the digestive system, so ensuring optimal detoxification also means ensuring optimal digestion. So it follows that resetting our digestive strength and moving our body also resets our natural detox pathways. However, although it’s part of the circulatory system the lymphatic system has no central ‘pump’ – so it depends primarily on our moving our skeletal muscles to transport the lymph fluid around the body to ensure the lymphatic drainage.
We humans have always been built to be active, on the go and ready to take on whatever life throws our way. Whether it’s been catching our food, building our homes or simply socialising with friends, throughout history we’ve always had to move around to get things done!
So “MOVE it, or you’ll LOSE it”!
Being active and moving frequently is what our body expects of us, and we suffer if this expectation is not met – familiar with the phrase ‘move it or lose it’? Exercise (being active) has been shown to produce a whole host of health benefits including, but not limited to:
Improved circulation and decreased blood pressure
Improved strength, stamina and mobility
Improved mood and energy, and decreased stress
Improved immune system function
Proper hormonal functioning
Optimum gene expression
It’s almost as though our bodies are saying a big ‘THANK YOU’ for moving!
Move in nature – keep it simple, natural and functional!
Guys, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need a gym membership in order to meet your body’s requirements for exercise! Although we think of exercising as something that we ‘do’ at the gym, the great news is that there are all sorts of ways that we can incorporate activity into our daily life! Like hanging from trees, for example!
Haha … seriously, the key here is to keep things simple, natural and functional by doing the things that our body was actually built for. And ‘more’ isn’t necessarily better. You don’t need to do a lot to really notice a difference (we don’t!) but of course, if you love to exercise … then go right ahead!
1. So WALK that walk!
Above all, we’re built to walk for miles a day, over all sorts of terrain, yet most of us don’t walk anywhere near as much as we need to. Walking is the probably the single most beneficial, yet most the under-rated form of movement!! But how easy is it to avoid walking while while there are cars, public transport, lifts and escalators!
Obviously, when we need to travel significant distances using transport is sensible, but here’s how we can include more walking in our daily lives:
Don’t drive or catch a bus if you can walk to where you need to go.
Park further away than you usually do to get those steps in.
If you have children or a dog, take them out for a walk!
Obvious … but take the stairs instead of the escalator or lift!
So get yourself out there with friends, family or even ‘mindfully’ on your own and enjoy walking!
2. RUN – but ‘easy’ does it every time!
Running is another way to move your body naturally, although if you’re not used to it ‘jumping in’ with both feet and pounding the pavements is … a really bad idea!
Although running’s a natural human movement pattern, all forms of running are high impact so will stress the body. If running’s something you’re not used to, you’ll need to ease yourself into it, slowly.
Running, then, is ‘high intensity’ – and as we’ve seen, can tax the sympathetic nervous system. But, some research suggests that very ‘light’ jogging can have beneficial effects on the parasympathetic nervous system.
Even so – and from our own personal experience – we’d say that those who are just starting out, suffering from chronic stress, or have been ‘overtraining’ and need to get their parasympathetic nervous system fired-up into ‘rest and recover’ mode – might be better advised to avoid any form of running and enjoy walking!
> > A word about running – barefoot or otherwise – watch this video!
There’s a whole lot of ‘mis-information’ and mis-conception out there about running. So, before you start out on any kind of running:
You might want to train or retrain the way that you run, to suit your body’s unique biomechanics (as you age, you’ll be glad you did!)
Make sure you have a good pair of running shoes, preferably minimalist
Start slowly with a ‘walking circuit’ and incorporate short intervals of running
Focus on good form and proper breathing
Don’t overdo it – aim for short distances, not 10k runs! Make LIFE a marathon, not a single run!
3. Weigh-in with CALISTHENICS – but take this easy too!
We humans have been pushing and pulling, squatting, lifting and climbing for millions of years! Good, old-fashioned calisthenic (body weight) workouts are an excellent way of improving strength, muscle tone, increasing bone density and burning body fat. And the best thing is – you don’t need much time or equipment to get great results!
But the same advice holds here as for running – it’s easy to be counter-productive, so those who are just starting out, suffering from chronic stress, or have been ‘overtraining’ and need to get their ‘rest and recover’ parasympathetic nervous system fired-up – might be better advised to avoid, or limit calisthenics and enjoy walking!
You can try going for ten of each of these, and see how you get on. When you find them easy, do another round of ten, and so on:
Push-ups – great for the chest, shoulders and core.
Think about working-out outside – you burn more calories! It won’t take long for you to start noticing benefits – a short work-out, twice a week (or three times, if you have time) would be perfect!
4. ACTIVELY sweat the daily small stuff!
To meet your body’s need to move, you don’t even have to do what you might consider ‘exercise’! Walking, running and using your body to move things around is important – but how about doing your ‘day-to-day’ stuff with a little vigour? So when you’re …
cleaning the house
doing the gardening
cleaning the car
playing with the kids
going dancing with friends
hanging from trees …
… just moveit! As long as you’re moving, you’re being active! Your body doesn’t care what you do (within reason), just as long as what you’re doing helps ‘flip’ your body into that crucial rest, digest and recover mode!
Guys – I hope this helps! I can’t cover everything that needs to be said in one article, but I hope I’ve given you some ‘moves for thought’ and a few ideas of how to put them into action.
Please, though, be mindful of any health issues you have and in the first instance, consult your primary medical practitioner.
Moving your body as nature intended is good for you!
After 30 years in the health space, as qualified holistic nutrition and lifestyle health coach, digestive health practitioner & nutritional chef and a writer, a speaker, partner, a mum & grand-mum, I'm here to use my expertise and experience to help women shine at midlife and live the rest of their lives, the BEST of their lives in much better health.
My Femergy@40 Nutrition and Lifestyle Health Coaching programmes empower, support and inspire busy, midlife women who are fighting fatigue, struggling with overwhelm, weight, sleep, energy and with niggling or with multiple diagnosed health issues.
My book Once Upon a Cook - Food Wisdom, Better Living will make you want to change the way you eat, reclaim your kitchen and take back your health.
"Kirsty and Isabel's support, knowledge, empathy and recommendations have helped me achieve an incredible turn around in my health. Now, 6 months down-the-line, I am not only playing with my children, I am not taking any medication, I am walking every day, doing yoga every day and I sometimes try a little jog - a far from where I was just 6 months ago!"