Exercise is optional, movement is essential
As a personal trainer, you’d be inclined to think that my advice to most people would be to consistently smash reps out in the gym. When we conjure up the idea of what ‘exercise’ looks like, it is generally exerting yourself at a high level, sweating and ‘feeling the burn’. In my time working in the fitness industry I’ve seen the rise of people moving between extremes of inactivity to then exercising at such a high level of exertion with no real middle ground in between.
For many, this is due to our desire to use exercise to change our external appearance. Completing work outs to achieve an external goal at the expense of not enjoying the process has become the norm, but is short sighted and unsustainable for many. It is pain rather than pleasure driven and it creates a cycle of people losing motivation and ‘falling off the wagon’ as they’re not able to keep up with the extreme physical demands.
I am not for one second suggesting that exercise can’t be a good thing. It is great in many ways; it’s social, it improves mood, increases bone density, reduces stress and anxiety, increases muscle mass and improves posture to name a few. BUT. If it isn’t encouraging good health behaviours then what is the point?
Movement is something entirely different. Movement is something we have done for time immemorial. Movement is one the first things we all learn to do. It is walking, running, climbing, jumping, crawling, lifting, swimming, and even Sex. These are all movements the human body is designed to do but that modern living has sadly stopped many of us from doing.
So, perhaps this week, if you’re going to train then train movement, not muscles. By this I mean, find out what movement means to you. Don’t feel obliged to do anything for any other reason than because you enjoy what you are doing. Play, explore and challenge yourself with the idea that you are not exercising, you are moving.
In changing this mindset, I truly believe we can overcome a lot of the mental and physical challenges that modern society faces. Move well, move more = magic.