Exercise isn’t just something we should do, it’s an essential part of being human.
Why is it so important to keep moving? Because quite simply, it’s what we were designed to do.
We’ve got Stone Age bodies, that were designed to be constantly moving and be used. The trouble is we haven’t got Stone Age minds. We crave an easy, more relaxed life. We’re constantly inventing things so we have less physical activity to do. We have non-iron shirts, we have vacuums that can vacuum on their own. We don’t have to get up to change the temperature, there’s an app for that. We don’t have to walk upstairs to talk to a family member, there’s an app for that.
Our bodies function how they were designed to, 2.5 million years ago and they have served us pretty well until 250 years ago, when the industrial revolution started and we started to spend long hours sitting in factories and offices.
Now we spend long hours sitting at desks and we get achy necks and backs and get stressed from our workload. So, what do we do to counteract this? We try to find comfier chairs to ease the aches and sit in front of the TV or look at our phones, to de-stress.
When what we really need to do is to…MOVE!
Are you sitting comfortably, good, then I’ll…get you to stand up.
I never recommend ergonomic chairs to my clients. Firstly, they’re usually pretty expensive. You won’t save your neck and back by spending an arm and a leg! And secondly, because they’re so comfortable you might get up less. The best thing they can do is simply get up regularly, move around and do a few stretches.
Stress is another throwback to our evolutionary past. Those fight or flight hormones that in the past gave us the adrenalin rush to run away from a sabre-toothed tiger are the same ones that you get when you are stressed about a work deadline. But the more time you spend stressed, the more stress hormones that are created. These then turn into toxins. And what’s the only way to get rid of those toxins – exercise, of course.
And exercise doesn’t just get rid of the negative effects of stress hormones, it also creates happy hormones. Serotonin, a key happy hormone, can be boosted through regular physical activity, especially if you find one that you enjoy. For instance, If you don’t like the idea of jogging, go for a walk instead.
I know it’s a cliché, but the most important thing is your health. There is no point having all the cool new labour-saving gadgets when you can’t focus on them because you’ve got a backache. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with having all this new tech, but first and foremost you should be moving more.
Your future is shaped by what you do now
The movement we make or don’t make, really shapes who we are. I’m not talking about weight, but posture and flexibility. You can see it in people when they’re in their 70’s, 80’s and older. I always give the example of the Queen and Prince Philip. Prince Philip is five years older than the Queen, but he stands much straighter (from an active physical life in the navy), whereas the Queen is much more hunched over, having spent so much time sitting at a desk answering correspondence.
Of course, at their age, it is much harder to reverse things. The key is to keep moving and exercising in your 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.
And it’s not just about feeling more flexible, we also have physiological functions in our body that are movement dependent. Take our immune system. It’s designed to fight disease-causing germs and changes in the body as well as recognising and neutralising harmful substances from the environment. It really does do a great job of looking after us and one of the best ways to boost a healthy immune system (in conjunction with our lymph system) is to move regularly during the day.
If you want to feel healthier and happier as you get older, you’ve got two choices. Wait another 2.5 million years until our bodies evolve to being happy living a more sedentary lifestyle, or exercise and move more.
If you’d like to find out about the kind of exercises I’d recommend for you, get in touch for a free introductory chat.