Why does healthy movement matter?
Firstly, let’s look at why movement is so essential for a healthy and fulfilling life.
Talk about healthy movement and most people think of exercise and weight loss. But healthy movement is more than just working out. It’s also about being capable and feeling confident.
Modern life makes it very easy for us to avoid movement. We drive to work. Once there, we sit at our desks.Then we come home and sit down to relax. That’s not what our bodies were built to do. Our ancestors walked, climbed, ran, crawled, swam, squatted, threw and carried things to survive. They didn’t need to work out. “Working out” is just an artificial way to get us to do what our bodies have forgotten to do as we have matured as a species.
The good news is it’s so easy to reverse a sedentary lifestyle and the result is surprising. When we move more, we get lean and agile, which in turn improves our quality of movement. The surprise benefit is that our improved strength and agility has an effect on our state of mind too. Suddenly our bodies are doing what they’re supposed to do and we feel better, look better and feel happier.
There are reasons for this:
Movement helps us interact with the world
As babies we grab things, put things in our mouths and cling to our parents. Humans need physical stimuli. We move our bodies to express our wants, needs, emotions, thoughts, and ideas. How well we move, and how much we move, determines how well we engage with the world. Through body language and facial expression, movement helps us build relationships with others, with fewer misunderstandings and better communication.
The more we move, the better our bodies function and the better we feel
Movement involves muscle contraction, increased respiration, improved circulation and the release of certain hormones and cell signals. As a result, our bodies use energy that has been stored as fat and glucose) more effectively, extra energy gets stored in muscle as glycogen instead of as fat, our muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones get stronger, and waste products are eliminated more effectively. When all these functions work better, we move better, we feel better about our health and quality of life, and we feel more capable. Interestingly, this seems to happen to people who change their bodies with exercise rather than dieting alone.
Movement does more than just “get us into shape”, it helps us think, learn and remember.You might imagine that “thinking” lives only in your head, but it is actually a full mind-body interaction. The way the body moves actually influences how we process information, how we make decisions and vice versa. It’s called “embodied cognition”. Movement helps new neurons grow and thrive, and these new cells live longer if they are stimulated by learning a new physical skill or doing physical exercise. Being physically active helps maintain existing brain function, it slows age related brain decline, it’s been shown to reduce stress and it improves memory function.
So what do we mean by “healthy movement”?
Some people have a body configuration that makes it hard for them to do certain things. They may have chronic pain, too much body fat, mobility issues or a physical disability. If you fall into one of these categories, there are still things you can do to make movement part of your life. There are classes out there from archery to Zumba and one of them will be right for you. You don’t have to work out to move and you don’t have to do it overnight.
So in summary, it’s proven that healthy movement helps us feel better physically and emotionally, it helps us communicate and interact with the world, it protects and maintains our brain function and it has an impact on our learning and memory. If you feel you need to move more but the idea is scary, the key is to make the change slowly, one step at a time so that your goals are attainable. Pick one small new way you can move today — and just do it.