There's a saying out there that goes something like "If there was a drug that contained all the benefits of exercise it'd be the most widely prescribed drug in the world". I actually still don't think it could ever do for our body what natural physical movement does. To help our body be more happy we actually have to physically move it – there is not a single possibility that a drug could do that for us. And if saddens me to think that we should ever have to think that we might want a drug that does that for us.
I live and breathe happy bodies. That's why I was put on this Earth – to help anyone and everyone I can to experience a happier and more life-full body. But you simply can't have a happy body without doing happy movement. So, let me talk about that for a moment.
There is no wrong movement or exercise. Every exercise, group fitness class, modality, or movement out there is good for somebody. Whilst there is no one box fits all, the one box that is applicable to all is regular movement or exercise. We simply cannot expect a happy body without moving our bodies in all the ways they were meant to be moved. The only wrong way to move a body is when it causes you unnecessary pain, leaves you debilitated for days after, or by embracing consistently "hardcore" stuff when your body is already suffering with many other symptoms. Exercise and movement should be therapy and complimentary to what your current health and stress status is.
Happy movement is essentially any movement that our own unique body accepts, doesn't cause us pain, makes us feels good, and leaves us feeling revitalised and replenished. Exercise or movement shouldn't exhaust you – unless you're a professional athlete following strict and scientific programme protocols necessary for you to reach a certain standard in your sport. For the rest of the population, exercise needn't exhaust us – in fact, we should always feels better after an exercise session than we did before.
Our body is one amazingly complex and intricately-designed mechanical masterpiece. It inherently knows how to move. And it can move gracefully and exquisitely in our three-dimensional world. Another element to moving happy is therefore what I call "moving different". It's exploring the entirety of your movement bubble and asking your body to move in all of the ways that it can – without pain of course!
What this essentially means is even moving in ways that would be deemed "poor form" by the well-trained fitness professional. Why? Because the body was designed to move in every which way that its many joints safely submit to. Doing perfectly executed squats is wonderful for the aesthetically pleasing "look" of a squat, but at the same time we're limiting our body to within a confined realm of movement, and not exploring the extent to which our body can actually move. In the last 30-40 years the exercise/gym environment has dumbed-down movement to being conscious, linear, two-dimensional, perfectly-executed-to-the-last-millimetre movement (especially with pin-loaded gym machines).
But that is NOT how we move in everyday life - or in sport for that matter. When we go about our day we're moving unconsciously; we're not thinking about where the right arm is or the angle that the left knee is at. We just move. It's the exploration of the scope of movement that our bodies can rightly do that leads to a happier body. The only wrong way to move is if it causes pain, it endangers you, or it threatens an injury.
So next time you do your workout or movement session, think outside the box a little. Include some weird and wacky movements that challenge the body in new ways – squats with different foot positions, make up crazy ways to jog whilst your arms have a party up in the air, or simply just stretch and move in the ways that you're body is asking to be moved. You'll have fun and your body will smile, promise.
Do this regularly, in different environments, at different intensities, mostly barefoot, and with a smile on your face. Explore your movement potential.... then you'll be on your way to a happier body.
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- Corinne Austin, Health and Movement Coach