Last week I wrote about natural movement and how important it is to move and the comparison between what we would class as someone who moves I.e a gym goer and ancestral man. But when did movement become such a chore and something that we have to make time for? It gets in the way of life and the thought of it can be like a life sentence, you hear the reasoning of I'm tired, run down and i'm not fit enough (All things that can be helped if you exercise) but I think the real reason people lack the motivation is because it is not fun, exercise has become something mechanical and forced.
When we look a children playing there is no thought into what they are doing they just have fun and move. They run, chase, roll, cartwheel, jump, hop, skip, climb, balance, hang and swing. They make up games with balls, sticks, and their surrounding environment with no conscious thought of "I'm doing exercise" or "I'm training my muscles" they just do it naturally. You see it in the animal kingdom also, have you ever seen a kitten chasing a ball of wool or been watching a nature programme where a young gorilla jumps onto its older siblings for a play fight?
So why and when do we become so averse to playfulness and fun movement?
It is when we "Grow up" and it is started from parents, ever heard a parent say to their children "Stop that", "Get down", "Get your feet off the wall" or "grow up"?. I appreciate that we must protect our children from harm but to hold them back from moving is potentially hindering an important part of their physical and mental development.
The physical is obvious, movement patterns, muscular strength, mobility and proprioception can all be hindered if we are restricted in our movement from an early age, I am seeing teenagers that can't reach their toes and struggle to squat or do a single pull up, surely this isn't right? Impact type movements like jumping help increase bone density so falling can be useful to some aspect.
The constant "stop that", "sit still", "wash your hands" and "Look at the state of you", all lead to negative mental connections, is the rise in OCD helped along by the fear of stepping outside and getting your hands dirty as a child?
It is becoming the norm to sit in the corner, usually staring at some kind of electronic device, even school is restrictive, sitting at a desk for six hours a day and P.E is generally around two hours a week if you are lucky. Before we know it young people are becoming caged in a non movement lifestyle, then one day they recognise this and join a gym or running club only to realise that it is boring and they are not getting any results and quickly return to the sofa and T.V.
There are some that grit their teeth and keep to it and some that do enjoy the comfort of the same routine week in week out, if this is you then keep it it, good for you, but for the vast majority what can you do?
Take inspiration from children and play by their rules. If you have your own or a grandchild, niece or nephew ask them what shall we do with this ball and hoop? They will have a fast paced energetic game within minutes. If they are too young to play with rules then just try and copy a toddlers movements for ten minutes, do everything they do, they will run you into the ground . Get together with friends and their children, take a ball and frisbee and go with the flow.
Join a sports team or martial arts club. Training with other people can really help with motivation and keep the fun in exercise, the group environment really develops the tribe mentality built in all of us, working together for a common goal. In martial arts you generally compete alone but the team training and group aspect grows respect and appreciation of others abilities more than anything else I know.
Find a training partner or partners with a similar goal. In a similar way to the team sports having training partners really keeps motivation alive, Not only during the session but the commitment to it, you wouldn't want to let someone down last minute. If it's the gym, the dojo or the hills, having someone by your side really helps.
Turn everything into a game. Be competitive with yourself and training partners, if its the gym how many reps in a minute or how many sprints of the field you can do. If it's a little more relaxed on a walk then why not work a little harder and race each other to the top or a least to the nearest tree. You will always do more than you think or would on your own.
Don't be embarrassed to act like a child. Do a cartwheel in the park, run and skip on the beach with your kids, climb a tree. Get mud on your hands, feet and face, you will get some judgmental looks but secretly they will be wishing they could let the kid in them come out to do it with you.
Find something you enjoy. It can be as extreme as an MMA class or as relaxed as a walk in the woods just make it fun a throw caution to the wind. If it feels good to you then do it and keep doing it no matter what other people may think.
Stop thinking of movement in terms of "exercise". It should just be something you do.
The modern world has bottlenecked us into having to make time to move, so try to move when you can and make it fun, if it's not fun try something else that is, but don't stop moving.
Keep it primal
Recommended further reading:
The Primal Connection - Mark Sisson
Move Your DNA - Katy Bowman