Exercise vs. Movement

We all know moving our bodies and exercising are important and vital for our health and longevity.  We know it is great for weight loss, weight maintenance, bone health, heart health and reduces the risk of diabetes and all of the other problems which can occur from lack of exercise.  We all have heard from several different sources whether it be a friend, TV, media or a fitness expert on which form of exercise is best.  Some may say weight training is ideal or cardio is better or yoga is best or maybe even exercise classes is the best form to choose from.  However, what do all these modalities have as the common denominator?  Movement.  Movement is the key factor for almost all of your general fitness needs.  We need to move, we need to twist, bend, jump, run, skip, dance, squat, leap, climb, carry, push, pull, lunge, throw and crawl.  We need to learn to incorporate more movement into our everyday lives and not just get enough of it when we go to the gym.  I am not talking about movement which may be involuntary like walking from your car to work or from your desk to the water cooler but movement in which you are fully engaged, aware and present.  Do not get me wrong, I love exercise and I love lifting weights and getting stronger and seeing the results but what I love even more is being able to move my body well in all different planes of motion without limitation or struggle.  I love being able to perform almost any activity or sport without ever thinking twice about injury, struggle or not being strong enough.  If you are able to move well then you should able to do most other things well.  There is a huge difference between movement and exercise and I would like to share these things with you so hopefully we can all get more movement into our lives daily.

  • Exercise is about repetition of known patterns while play(movement) is about discovery and exploration
  • Exercise is about enduring unpleasant sensation: play is about finding delight in diverse movement forms
  • Exercise is about repeating the known; play is about extending into the unknown
  • Exercise requires external motivation to maintain participation; play is inherently rewarding and self-reinforcing
  • Exercise tends to be single plane; functional movement is multi-joint and multi-plane
  • Exercise is monotonous; movement is engaging
  • Exercise is specialized; movement is diverse
  • Exercise is scripted; movement is spontaneous and opportunistic
  • Exercise feels mechanized and forced; movement feels expressive and creative
  • Exercise is a means towards an end; movement is an end in itself
  • Exercise is generally done in the gym; movement can be done anywhere

Movement is better because it offers more options for physical creativity and expression.  There’s more possibility and more room for the imagination.  Be a movement opportunist; look for movement at home, in the workplace, in parks, airports and in the parking lot.  Look for ways to add spice and extra movement into you daily life, jump up on that ledge you pass by everyday, balance on the parking curbs, do some pull ups on a stairway or tree you pass, skip across the parking lot or empty field, run up and down the stairs a few times, anything that will be different and new to your ordinary routine.  Dance is also another great way to incorporate movement into your day.  Dance is fun, pulsating and hip gyrating and is always fun to do by yourself or with your friends.  Dancing gets the body moving in all planes of motion and works all of the major muscles without you even thinking about it.  Learn to dance with other things like the terrain, gravity, water, bushes, the ground, boulders, rocks, stairs and sidewalks.  Learn to make the world your playground and let the movement begin.  I have transitioned to this way of working out and absolutely love it.  I no longer care or think about sets, reps or numbers but I concentrate more so on the feeling of the exercise, how engaging it is and how much enjoyment I am getting out of it.  I am often at the playground with my kids and am constantly playing around with them and I am always fascinated by their movements.  If you want a great workout, try following around a young kid on the playground and copying everything they do, I guarantee you will get a great workout without even thinking about it.  Move your body and play as much as you can but also know that you still have to exert yourself a little bit.  Not too much but just enough to get your heart rate and ventilatory rate up.  If we want to reap the health and performance rewards, sweat and exertion are still necessary.  We still need to challenge our tissue and push our physical comfort zones.

And remember, if it feels monotonous and boring, it probably is!  If this is the case, stop doing it.  Find something else that is not boring and is more engaging.  I find my best workout are the ones which are unplanned, outside, shoes and shirt off, going with flow and not worrying about the outcome.  Try it sometime and I bet you will be amazed on how much better you feel.  Movement is best and movement trumps exercise every time.  Have a fun and movement filled day.

An hour of basketball feels like 15 minutes.  An hour on a treadmill feels like a weekend in traffic school. ~ David Walters

 

 

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