The Movement Lifestyle is a great choice for individuals who want to take care of their body for long-term health, mobility and ease of movement. Unlike the Exercise Lifestyle, which supports isolating time in your day for practicing movement, the Movement Lifestyle encourages movement variety throughout each day at any time. This is a fun and effective way to support your joint mobility and holistic strength without isolating specific times for exercise.
An example of a Movement Lifestyle choice is to squat down every time you need to get something out of the cupboard. Squatting can be very beneficial for strengthening and rehabilitating your knees, restoring ankle mobility, and improving digestion, among other things. If you need to get something out of the cupboard 10 times in a day, that's ten squats!
Another effective way to promote long-term joint health is by choosing to sit on the floor more often than sitting in a chair. Sitting on the floor causes us to practice a variety of body positions that stretches and strengthens our lower limbs and spine and contributes to our overall functional mobility. Even the act of getting up and down off of the floor is beneficial for your mobility and strength. Its surprising how many people in our culture can’t easily get down, sit on the floor and get back up. This often arises because individuals rely on furniture to the extent of actually losing their ease of movement. “If you don’t use it, you lose it” is a great phrase to describe basic human movement physiology. Our body adapts in favor to our movement (or lack of movement) choices.
The main message here is that if you incorporate and enjoy a variety of movement patterns every day, you will likely start to benefit from increased ease and freedom of mobility. Plus, being a diverse mover is fun! You can now explore nature walks, dance, martial arts, yoga, etc. Everyday activities like walking down the street or to your car can turn into exploring how well you can walk with grace and balance.
There are many people who are promoting the Movement Lifestyle, and really it is older than words. Our ancestors even just 200 years ago had to move with a lot more variety just to survive and acquire food. I highly recommend Katy Bowman's book "Move Your DNA" for an excellent explanation of the need for movement variability. In the first 4 chapters you will learn about how our body adapts to movement, even down to the cellular level. Like I said, many people are advocating this type of lifestyle, but she eloquently expresses the idea in this book.
I encourage my clients to stretch and explore movement while reading, preparing meals or doing chores around the house, as well as pausing during the day to do lunges or joint circles or even dance. You can play with standing in a wide squat while chopping vegetables. The options are endless when it comes to enjoying more movement in your lifestyle.
If you love to read, you can choose to sit on the floor to improve your mobility at the same time. If you are terrible at sitting on the floor, that’s a great indicator that you should start gently and progressively gaining this ability. It might take a while to restore this ability, but the benefits are well worth it.
Play with joint circles throughout the day. Our body wants to know what it is capable of and will respond favourably to more movement. To keep your soft tissues healthy, gentle movements will keep the synovial joints lubricating and experiencing their full range-of-motion. In addition, smooth movement of the joints keeps the neuromuscular system sharp and precise with joint control.
Isolating time for a workout or movement practice is effective and often necessary for restoring mobility and gaining holistic strength, but it’s also valuable to incorporate and play with movement throughout your day. Try to be creative and playful with it! You'll probably find that you enjoy it, and it will serve your wellness greatly in the long run.