“Exercise was invented to help us move and live better.. not exercise better.” Kelly Dean from the Tummy Team
January 5, 2015 – Happy, Healthy New Year!
This quote really resonated with me. I am noticing a rapidly growing trend to make exercise a goal in and of itself instead of a means to an end.
When we take a step back, we can ask the basic question of “what is this all about anyway?” Why are we exercising?
If your automatic answer is to lose weight, I invite you to “divorce” the words diet and exercise. We use these terms so much together that it has become (in my opinion) an unhealthy relationship. One telling symptom of this is when patients tell me they lost motivation to exercise because they were not losing weight. They tell me “it was just not working!”. It was working!!! They just could not see it!”
When the scale is the end all, be all of why we move, it is time to get back to basics. If this unhealthy relationship has left the word “exercise” completely toxic for you, please exchange the word exercise with movement.
We start to become misdirected when focus exercising different muscle groups or specific parts of the body. i.e: I am working my chest muscles today. I am doing cardio to strengthen my heart. I am stretching my hamstring muscles. When we do this it is easy to forget the ultimate goal – which is to work many system/s in the body – not isolated parts. It’s all connected – work one part or system and another will be affected in a helpful or hurtful way depending on many factors.
Another distraction is this trend toward “challenges” as a way to motivate – plank challenges, squat challenges, yoga competitions, etc. Although they can and do motivate folks to move more, they also can create muscle imbalances, overuse injuries, and in the end sap motivation or at least distract from the goal of moving and living better. Don’t get me wrong – if a challenge got you up off the couch – awesome! Just as long as you remember they are not always healthy. Too much of one thing is not healthy. Replacing an annual pie eating contest with a broccoli eating contest would be a big improvement but still not completely healthy…. Catch my drift?
I am currently re-reading Move your DNA by Katy Bowman – considering this is the only book I have ever read two times in a row – I highly recommend it. As an exercise scientist, it has challenged my views of exercise beyond its impact on a few body systems and parts.
So…Over the next several emails, let’s take a deeper dive into movement science to understand the big picture better.
Don’t worry if you are not the science-y type – we will break it down with the ultimate goal to move us from – exercising because you are just trying to be a “good” dieter to get that darn scale to move – to moving more because you have a better understanding how the systems in our body are designed to improve with movement.
This week simply do a movement diary – notice all the various movements (exercise and non-exercise) you do during the day. Also take a mental image of your body position when you are not moving – that is really important too.
Keep Moving, Be Well
Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CYT, CHWC