We Are How We Move

We all know that a healthy lifestyle includes physical activity in addition to the nutrients from a wholesome diet and sufficient periods of rest and sleep. But are we getting enough "movement nutrients" and are we getting it right? Here are some facts:

Reality Check 1: We spend most of the day sitting on sitting devices. On chairs. Benches. Sofas. In cars. On toilets! All this sitting occurs at home, on the bus, at work, at the restaurant, in the park. North Americans even bring their folding chairs to music festivals!

Reality Check 2: Our young children also spend most day sitting on sitting devices. Car seats. Strollers. High chairs. Shopping carts. The potty throne! Bicycles. Chairs at home. Chairs at playgroup. Chairs at day care. Chairs at school. Sitting is everywhere.

Reality Check 3: All this sitting makes us sick. Literally. Research* proves it.

Reality Check 4: In 2007/2008, about 1 in 10 Canadians aged 12 to 44, or about 1.5 million people, experienced chronic pain. That is, they responded "no" when asked if they were usually free of pain or discomfort. (Statistics CanadaIn 2011/2012, an estimated 6 million Canadians aged 18 or older reported chronic pain. (Statistics Canada)

Reality Check 5: All this sitting makes us sick even if we exercise for an hour a day. If we spend the bulk of the day sitting, an hour of exercise doesn’t off-set the ill-effect of sitting. Research* proves it.

Reality Check 6: An estimated 4.27 million Canadians aged 12 or older suffered an injury severe enough to limit their usual activities in 2009–2010. This represents 15% of the population, an increase from 13% in 2001. Among working-age adults (20 to 64), sports and work were related to almost half (47%) of injuries.
(Source: Statistics Canada)

When being in one position for a long period of time (just sitting or just standing or just something else), we only use a fraction of our muscles and employ a limited amount of ranges of motion that are available to us, thereby depriving our cells of movement nutrients. 

Take this test 
to determine how much time YOU spend "just sitting" each day!

Many of us take our underused body to an 1hour long fitness activity which involves more complex movements - movements that our body isn't used to. And we wonder why we suffer from foot, hip, pelvic, back, shoulder and neck pain? We are surprised we are leaking urine when running or jumping? Or that our abdominal muscles split during pregnancy? Or that we sustain an ankle, knee, hip, back injury after a longer-than-usual run or as the result of this 'one wrong movement'?

Do we maybe even think this is NORMAL? Normal to be diagnosed with high blood pressure once we hit 50? Normal for pregnancy to wreck our bodies? Normal to have a bit of knee pain after a hike? Normal to wake up with foot pain? A frozen neck? Normal to blow out your back from picking up the grocery bag? Normal to constantly have sore wrists or a sore back or a tight neck and shoulders from carrying the baby around and breastfeeding?

It's common. But it shouldn't be normal. It for sure isn't natural.

Natural Body Fact 1: We have a daily biological requirement for movement. Just like we have to eat throughout the day, we have to move throughout the day (movement nutrition). By doing all our daily exercise in one bout, we are not giving our body what it needs: frequent movement that involves the whole body.

Natural Body Fact 2: Skeletal muscle plays a major role in our circulatory system. While the heart pumps blood along the main arteries to supply our vital parts with oxygen, it is the job of the muscle to draw oxygen-rich blood into the smaller blood vessels and to the level of the capillaries. Cell regeneration (i.e. health) happens on the level of the capillaries. Our entire waste removal (lymphatic system) happens on the level of the capillaries and is 100% dependent on the work of skeletal muscle. The more muscle that can get involved on a regular basis, the better for our health.

We have 600+ skeletal muscles waiting to be recruited for daily, whole body movement.

Natural Body Fact 3: Skeletal muscle is ultimately involved in all other systems of the body. The respiratory system, the digestive system, the reproductive system, the immune system and so on. We don't only need our skeletal muscle to move our body through space - we need it for the health of every single cell in our body. The more muscle is involved, the better our health.

Natural Body Fact 4: The alignment of our skeleton has an effect on a muscle's length and its ability to generate force appropriate to any given task. Our habit of sitting, for example, has a shortening effect on the calves and hamstrings. That in turn has an impact on how we perform everyday activities. And this ultimately has an ill effect on our joints which is exacerbated when walking, bending over or lifting with compromised alignment. Shortened, tight muscles are NOT to the benefit of circulation and waste removal. How we choose to hold ourselves and how we carry our body throughout the day effects our alignment and our health.

There is a mechanical component to most ailments.
Health is not only in HOW MUCH we move, but in HOW we move.

Natural Body Fact 5: Our body has the amazing ability to restore itself. Circulation can be improved. Friction on the joints can be reduced. Range of motion and stability can be increased. Strength can be gained. Aches and pains can be eliminated or prevented. All we need to do is move our body and move it properly.

Movement in alignment ensures optimal biological function of the whole body.

By knowing where our body is and where it should be, we can change harmful habits and start working towards a more optimal state of alignment.

better alignment = more improved circulation = increased cell regeneration = increased health

better alignment = more optimal loading of joints and tissue = reduction of friction in joints = increased health

some studies exposing the ill-effect of sitting:

Alpa V. Patel et al. Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2010. Vol. 172, No. 4

PETER T. KATZMARZYK et al. Sitting Time and Mortality from All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2009. Vol. 41, No. 5

Owen, N. et al. Too much sitting: a novel and important predictor of chronic health risk? Br J Sports Med. 2009. Vol. 43, No 2

Bauman, A et al. Leisure-time physical activity alone may not be a sufficient public health approach to prevent obesity-a focus on China. 2008. Obesity Review. Special Issue. Vol. 9

Jannique G.Z. van Uffelen et al. Occupational Sitting and Health Risks -A Systematic Review. 2010. Am J Prev Med. Vol 39, No 4

Finni, T. et al. Exericse for fitness does not decrease the muscular inactivity time during normal daily life. 2012. Scan. Journal of Medicin and Science in Sports.

Hamilton, MT et al. Too little exercise and too much sitting: inactivity physiology and the need for new recomendations on sedentary behavior. 2008. Curr Cardiovasc Risk Rep. Vol 2, No 4

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