When we look at modern man we can generally put them into two categories,those who move via the use of the gym, participating in a sport or taking a weekend walk at the lakes and then those that don't, other than moving from one resting place to the next, bed to sofa, sofa to car, car to office chair, you get the idea.
However those that do move don't really move a great deal when we break it down. There are 168 hours in a week, let's minus 56 to compensate for the 8 hours a night sleep they are hopefully getting, leaving us 112 hours of wakefulness in which to move.
Now let's factor in the hour and a half four times a week that they do in the gym, leaving 106 hours, not taking into consideration of the time wasted in the gym resting between sets, watching the T.V and looking in the mirror. But a least they are at the gym and people doing sports activities are probably a little more overall.
6 out of 112 hours is this enough when we look at man from an ancestral perspective? Let's imagine a theoretical day in the life of one of our ancestors.
He wakes as the warmth of the sun rising hits his face, he stares into the distance to gather his thoughts and takes a swig from his waterbladder. The campfire is still smouldering and he watches the embers glow with the breeze. He stands up on to his bare feet and see's his tribe members begin to rise. Their supplies are low as the hunting has been bad the last few weeks today they must get a kill. The women and children wave the hunting party farewell before setting off to gather what plants, nuts and berries they can find.
He walks with his group for 3 hours before crouching down to inspect some tracks that lead into a thicket of trees. They enter the thicket, stooping low, crawling and climbing over the thick undergrowth silently they spread out to surround the deer they have tracked to a small clearing. They move closer he raises his spear and launches it with all his body propelling it through the air. The spear finds its mark and the hunters sprint to finish the job.
They begin cutting up the kill and wrapping it in skin bags for the long journey back to the tribe. He hoists the heavy load onto his shoulder and although he knows it will be a hard walk it will be worth it. They return to a warm welcome, the carcass is expertly butchered by hand not a scrap is wasted and they feast while telling stories of the hunt, before sleeping around the fire shortly after the sun goes down.
This may be a theoretical story but it's not the story that I want to highlight here it's the way that he would have moved throughout the day that I'm thinking about. First the amount of time just walking would be considerable, it would also be on uneven terrain and barefoot, not a smooth and flat pathway. Then the moving through the undergrowth, the body would be constantly changing position, twisting turning and stretching in multiple directions. The spear throw would use every muscle in his body from toes to fingers huge rotational forces to propel the spear through the air. Then carrying the carcass back would require a lot of strength, endurance and control.
Let's compare this to a basic gym programme, I have worked in the fitness industry for over 12 years and I have seen this general kind of routine time and time again. 20 to 30 minutes on cardio exercise whatever it may be followed by 4 or 5 different isolated muscle group resistance machine for 3 sets of 12 reps, followed by a stretch maybe.
This is a far cry from the type of movement out ancestral man was doing, I understand there is a place for isolated exercise for specific muscle growth and aesthetic goals but they don't help you in real world movement.
So what should you do?
Be as active and mobile as you can throughout the day, the gym is a start but make your movements full body and functional using the body as a whole unit, use your body weight, cables, kettle bells, hammers, tires, logs and rocks.
Get signed up for an obstacle race, I have recently done the Ram Run, these type of races are not only great fun but they move your body in ways you may find hard to replicate anywhere else.
Get a timer for your desk and set it for every 30 minutes to remind you to move, get up and do a few squats, walk around the office, move your limbs in all directions, twist the torso and don't worry about the strange looks from your colleagues.
Sit in more positions than just in chairs, when possible sit on the floor and if on a chair place a massage ball under your leg or buttock, it will keep you fidgeting and moving around.
Just get out in nature, don't stick to the trails look at your surroundings and use it, climb a tree, jump a log, crawl under bush, just move through it and elaborate.
I will discuss more specific movements ideas in future posts.
You are a Functional Animal so just move!
Keep it Primal
Move your DNA - Katy Bowman
Paleo Fitness - Darryl Edwards