Following on from our last blog on Blue Zone living, one of the highlighted areas of interest was the fact that all the areas of extended life expectancy were fit and active, but were not exercising in the ways we are all accustomed to in our modern life.
The Natural Movement patterns of many of the populations of Blue Zones led us to find out if we should be exercising differently? Should we forgo the thought of push/pull exercise plans and get back to moving our bodies in the way we are biologically designed to move?
SO WHAT IS NATURAL MOVEMENT?
Natural movement is based on the belief that we are no longer using our bodies as they were designed to be used and, over time, we are losing our ability to move in certain ways. Natural movement incorporates the full range of human abilities to move naturally. It is based on how our bodies are biologically designed to move, as natural movement exercises imitate how the body moves in nature.
Corrective exercises stretch, strengthen and align our bodies to help us execute natural movements, such as squatting, climbing, walking, sitting on the ground, balancing, hanging, crawling and throwing, with modifications as needed.
Exercising while barefoot is also part of the trend. Most footwear limits the ability to move and align all of our body, including the 33 joints in each foot. By kicking off your shoes, you can work your entire body, starting at the foundation, for better whole-body alignment and a more effective workout.
Working out barefoot improves the strength, mobility and proprioception of the feet, which also helps align the ankles, knees, hips and spine so your entire body will move more effectively. Proprioception is the ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion and equilibrium.
Anyone can benefit from exercises that incorporate natural movement. It is especially helpful for keeping the muscles strong, but flexible, slowing the ageing process while helping to address issues such as back pain.
We can already see its rise in popular culture even though we may not be consciously aware of it. The increase in participation of callisthenics, gymnastics, yoga, Pilates, free running, and now new exercise movements called animal flow and bar workouts. All manipulate the human body through natural movements and help stave off physical decline.
So the next time you hit the gym or plan your next workout, it might be worth your while to incorporate some natural movement. Not only will you increase your mobility and range of motion. You might be extending your physical ability into later life as well.
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