Happy New Year!! So with tons of you setting goals to be more active in 2018, I wanted to explore the health benefits of regular movement, but this time from a new lens.
Before we do that, let’s talk about why I keep using the word movement and not exercise. I like the term movement, because it evokes pleasant thoughts of walking outside, playing with family, maybe even a little backyard football game or an in-home yoga session. Where as exercise draws up this image of forced, painful, drudgery for a lot of folks. This could be because “exercise” is often paired with “diet” as a means to manipulate body size. Exercise is often prescribed by somebody other than ourselves, and as a result, rarely enjoyed. So—that brings us back to movement, my preferred term and why it’s awesome in all it's various forms.
While most people can tell you that, yes, movement is healthy, I think many would cite weight control as it’s primary health benefit—this is wrong for so, so many reasons.
First off, weight loss—or even forced weight maintenance—to achieve some arbitrary “ideal weight” does not equal health. But, that’s a whole separate post in and of itself, and I won’t be getting into it here. Weight aside, there are countless better health benefits of regular movement, and research shows that people of all body sizes can experience them.
When we use weight loss as our primary motivator for exercise, we’re usually left with low motivation and guilt around movement. No amount of movement is ever enough when weight loss is the goal, leading us to discount regular, less intense movements that might serve our bodies better. Plus, to the all-or-nothing thinker, missing one day of intense exercise is paramount to throwing in the towel, sitting on the couch for 10 days and binging on cookies and Netflix (not a healthy or helpful mindset if you ask me).
SO maybe you can list some non-weight related benefits of movement. It’s possible that you’re already aware of the cardiovascular benefits of regular aerobic exercise, but even these guidelines—to move 30 minutes a day—can seem like un-motivating drudgery when we don’t have the right mindset on movement.
The truth is that all movement, if done with the right motivation (to feel good and enjoy life a little more) can promote health. Beyond that, movement really can be quite magical. To illustrate this I’ve asked my hubby, Dwayne Golbek, to share some of his knowledge on the topic.
Dwayne is a Doctor of Chiropractic with a Masters in Sports Science and Rehabilitation. He’s also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). Dwayne is a former Division I All-American high jumper and a current deadlift enthusiast and recreational climber. Moral of the story: this guy likes to move, and he’s also got a bunch of degrees and knowledge to back it up.
Luckily, since I’m married to him, I was able to steal some of his time (on our long road trip to Indiana) and ask him some questions about the magic of movement. Below is our “interview”.
Q (Me): What do you love most about movement?
A (Dwayne): My favorite part about movement is that it gives us the opportunity to really appreciate how amazing our bodies truly are. I think a lot of people view themselves as fragile, incapable beings, scared of getting hurt, but also just trying to get by. Movement makes us more comfortable with our bodies and more confident. It gives us a chance to discover that we aren’t fragile, but in fact, we were designed to adapt and thrive.
Q (Me): What are some health benefits of regular movement that don’t require hours of traditional exercise?
A (Dwayne): Regular movement improves our mood & sense of wellbeing, plus it’s a powerful pain reliever. It sounds simple, but the science behind it is pretty cool. Stick with me, I’ll explain. When you move your body, your joints are able to receive and send information to your brain about where you are in space (this is called proprioception). If your brain doesn’t get this information regularly, it sensitizes the area that isn’t moving. This sensitization bleeds over into the pain receptors. So while not moving can lead to over-sensitized pain receptors and an achy body, something as simple as a gentle full body stretch restores the brain-body connection, reduces pain, and allows the brain to focus on the areas in the body that truly need attention.
Besides this, movement has the ability to change how our DNA is expressed which may help slow the effects of aging (how cool). And the truth is, you don’t have to be a marathon runner or a professional lifter to receive those benefits, you just need to move your body regularly.
Q(Aubrey) How do you view movement differently now compared to when you were a collegiate athlete?
A (Dwayne): When I was an athlete everything I did was so that I could jump higher. I wanted to outwork everyone everyday, thinking that it would make me perform better. At some point this mindset left me broken and burnt out, ready to move on to the next thing. After my collegiate career ended, and when the pressure of performance was lifted, I started to get into other activities that I enjoyed like climbing and weight lifting. Over time I learned to listen to my body. I work hard when it’s right and take rest when I need to. Anyone that knows me knows I love to deadlift. If I were still the college version of myself, I’d probably do it everyday until I eventually got hurt. Today I take a different approach. Some days I lift, some days I climb, some days I go for a walk and overall I feel better. With this mindset, my lifts have improved significantly. Ultimately it’s not pushing harder than someone else that matters, it’s just important to keep moving.
Q (Me): What are your suggestions for people who are scared to “exercise” or move because they feel they’re too out of shape?
My biggest suggestion is to start small with things that you enjoy doing and work your way up from there. Don’t underestimate the power of any type of movement, whether you want to do a daily stretch program, walk around the block, or deadlift 500 pounds, the magic is in regularly moving your body.
I hope you guys enjoyed this conversation. I’m thinking about starting more regular posts on Monday focused on movement and fitness, and would love to hear your questions and ideas. Also, if you want to hear more from Dwayne, you can follow him on instagram at @movementcube .