There are a lot of rad things about modern day society. I can watch YouTube on my cellphone. I can get in a tin can that takes me from one part of New York City to another. I can watch Mad Men on DVD whenever I want. Hells to the yeah.
However… everything has a price. The conveniences of modern society have made our life a futuristic wonderland in many ways. But it has also contributed to an ever more sedentary way of life, and this is slowly but surely wreaking havoc on our bodies. Not only are we fatter than we’ve ever been, but even the gym going population spends much of its time sitting at work, at home, AND at the gym. Consequently, we move like shit and most people have zero athleticism of any kind. My mentors in the fitness industry tell me there’s been a marked decline in movement quality within even the past twenty years. Thanks a lot, interwebz…
Um… this is just weird.
I guess it’s better than slouching but…
As a brief aside, I want to point out that the answer is sadly a little more complicated than “just move more.” Context is everything. Yoga, pilates, strength training, etc. are all therapeutic in the right situation. But while people are welcome to disagree, I don’t think any of these modalities are universally appropriate. A lot depends on the needs of the individual in question. In fact, a certain percentage of the gym going population is probably a better candidate for physical therapy than for “doin’ the machines.”
While everyone would be served by consulting with a qualified movement professional who can steer them to the proper rung of the ladder, I don’t want to get lost in the details (though I will in a future article).
The big takeaway is you can’t live a full life without movement. Period. By all means, find the right type of movement for both your physical needs and for your preferences… but MOVE.
I completely and utterly reject a life without movement. I reject a life spent sitting at a desk. It’s completely unnatural to never physically exert yourself. We weren’t meant to sit all day. We weren’t meant to spend most of our life hunched over computers. Or in cubicles. Or riding around the street or sky in tin cans. A sedentary life is a recipe for all kinds of health (and mental) problems. Now I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater… I’m not suggesting you flush your iPad down the toilet. Least of all, because it will probably do bad things to your plumbing. Also, iPads are totally sweet and you should enjoy playing with them. I just want to make sure you spend some time moving and reaping its benefits.
At its best, exercise should be a form of moving meditation; a prayer. It’s a sacred communion with the best of the human experience; sweat and toil as a physical expression of creativity and love. There’s a lot of power in bringing your awareness to your breath and choosing to just be in your body. To let go of opinion and judgement and analysis and obligations and to-do-lists. Just breath and be in your body, whether you’re doing chin-ups, swinging a kettlebell, a warrior pose variation, whatever. Be here now. It’s maddeningly simple, but I swear it will change your fucking life if you let it. Can’t quiet your mind while sitting and meditating? No prob. Let your body teach you how to do it while moving and then bring it into more traditional forms of meditation.
Use it or lose it friends; retirement isn’t gonna be as fun if you’re dealing with chronic back pain or you can’t get up and down off the floor to play with your grandkids. Consider this your wake up call. Commit to making movement a part of your life and I promise it will be the single best investment you ever make with your time.
“Motion is Life.”
-Hippocrates, Greek physician, 460-377 BC
High five to you Hippocrates.