Do you live a movement rich life?
Health is wealth and unless your day removes as much of the sedentary aspects we have all accustomed to, you could literally be cutting time off your life. Research clearly states the mental and physical health benefits of breaking down and minimising your sedentary activities, chief culprit being that of sitting. Sitting is no more than a cultural adaptation most relevant in the industrial revolution of the last 200 years where our work and leisure activities have necessitated that we spend large parcels of time on our derriere.
As an Osteopath unless our patients are prepared to make some sort of shift towards healthy movement patterns are we really able to help them long term? Short term yes, we can assist someone in managing their complaint and improving quality of life but nothing gets me more excited as your Osteopath then when you get the compliance to engage and mobilise your body during a normal day.
Our primal movements as homo sapiens are to squat, bend & extend, push, pull, twist, lunge and walk/run with periods of rest and rejuvenation in-between. Looking at that list how many of those movements do you engage in day to day? If you sit 85% of your day you are in poor health, you may be getting away with it but you are walking a slippery slope to dysfunction, pain and lack of vitality. Think about it, 85% seems huge but break down your day and I bet many of you reading this would be up there.
We get out of bed, sit for brekky, travel to work sitting, sit at work, sit for lunch, travel home sitting, eat dinner sitting and then have leisure or study all bloody well sitting. When you correlate that we are not meant to sit, we have a problem.
Even more problematic is that even if you do exercise it may be wasted when a high proportion of your day is sitting, as the exercise will not offset the negative impact of that time chained to the chair.
The World Health Organisation quote sedentary activity as a bigger killer now than smoking. Take a minute to digest that. The complications associated with heart, lung, gut poor health could be averted if we lived a more movement rich life.
What factors in your day could you amend? Walk to that further bus stop, get that standing desk, have walking meetings, take phone calls standing, the list is endless and actually not that hard. While the thought of creating change can be fatiguing, in actual fact you will have more energy, vitality and feel more alert simply by moving. If you feel sluggish during a normal work or school day, then why wouldn’t you try to make changes like this?
In practice looking at people every day many of us do not even breathe properly. I am talking about the basics principles of using our nose to breathe inflating our upper abdomen first. Many breathe through their mouth shallow breathing purely into upper lung and chest. If you are not getting rejuvenating, fulfilling oxygen how in fact can every other part of our body be healthy when it is not getting the primary nutrition it most needs.
Sitting is the main culprit here as we compress our diaphragm and prevent good breathing patterns, hence the malaise and fatigue of when you sit for long periods, you are starving your brain! Research now suggests improvement in cognitive performance associated with standing in the classroom. Would you like kids to do better academically? Schools are aware and anticipating the change.
Health for us should be based on basic movement parameters each and every day most of which can be created in daily habits, not hard at all and much simpler than trying to flog yourself every day at the gym.
Even more important is to look at this philosophy through the eyes of a child. Babies are born, soft, malleable with little environmental or cultural impact on their structure. As they grow they squat beautifully and use all the primal movements in abundance, BUT then they start to accommodate our ingrained cultural habits and changes start to occur. Chiefly, once they start to sit for longer periods either in the home or entering school, negative impact starts to take place. If I get a group of 10 year olds in here and ask them to sit in a passive flat foot squat, you can bet more than half with fall backwards or do ugly variants of a movement that as a toddler would have been so natural to them.
This poor form in primal movement unfortunately forms lifelong patterns that negatively impact on our health in years to come. So I passionately believe in the concepts of doing all we can to keep a child as mobile and free of sedentary sitting time as possible. The dividends could be immense. In the ideal world a child would enter their first years of school and never get to sit in a chair. Standing, floor time, leisure or active physical education should be a normal part of their day. The health benefits would be absolutely enormous and thus it needs to happen.
So, moral of the story, are you movement rich? Aim to sit less, move more and engage in the natural movements that your body was designed to do. Your body and your Osteopath will love you for it!