'Is exercise movement?'
Have you ever asked yourself the question: ‘is exercise movement?’ It raises an issue close to my heart as someone who really believes that movement is medicine. Katy Bowman, a movement scientist, and author of the best selling ‘Move Your DNA’ (affiliate link to the book below) argues that in the West we have fallen into the trap of believing that exercise is movement. Full stop! People go to the gym, class, or running to do their hour of exercise, which is great, but then tend not to think of the other 23 hours of the day as also being opportunities to improve their movement and those other 23 hours can have just as much an impact of our overall health and ability to lead independent lives.
One of the reasons the Feldenkrais Method has had such an impact on my life is that, for me, it is about human movement. It’s about how we organise our movement so that we optimise our relationship to the downward pull of gravity in all settings. To make, as I said in my book, gravity our friend rather than our enemy. Traditional exercise classes whether it be Pilates, step, yoga or just working out in the gym tend to take your muscles and joints through a fairly limited range and trajectory whereas our evolutionary heritage means that we are capable of so much more. Going to those classes, going to the gym, running swimming, or playing tennis are all fantastic things to do and I am certainly not arguing against them – how could I! - but what about the rest of your day?
This is one of the reasons I have spent so much time working on my Fit Sit program and courses. In the West, we tend to spend so much time sitting. We put children into chairs at school and then start to tell them that ‘good’ children don’t fidget.
As adults, we drive cars, sit at desks for work, and sit on so-called comfortable chairs at home. We spend so much time sitting that understandably sitting in a chair has got a bad reputation. But is it really the chair or how we are moving or not moving in the chair that’s doing all the harm? We are not going to get rid of chairs anytime soon so why not use those hours intelligently?
This is one of the points I was making to the students at the Summer School last week for the late starter strings musicians. These students spend hours practising their passion so why not use these hours to also practice healthy movement so that a chair isn’t somewhere that you collapse onto but a place we can all use as the opportunity it can be to do wonderful things for our spine, to keep our joints healthy, to improve our balance and our walking. It’s not that I am arguing that we should be spending more time in a chair. Far from it. But if we do use a chair, let’s use it to play and move.
I like to think of it as the more movement opportunities we seek out and create then the more we are putting in the movement pension pot that is going to sustain and keep us independent in our later years. I will be teaching 3 Fit Sit in-person workshops in the first 3 Saturdays in September. Numbers are strictly limited so that I can focus on the students in the room, something that hasn’t always been possible on zoom, and we will be exploring the five key movements of the spine that are the building blocks of all good, functional movement. Full details by clicking on the button below. Move well, be well. Stewart