Finding opportunities for movement instead of a specific time for exercise.
Maybe all we need is a shift in thinking. To move away from prescribed exercise and toward random vigorous movement. Instead of asking “how to do more exercise”, we can seek opportunities for physical activity and movement in our day-to-day life.
Exercise, physical activity and movement are all the same thing
We could call it ‘fat loss’’ or ‘looking sexy and desirable so my ex-boyfriend/girlfriend would feel bad about leaving me six years ago and now I finally get my revenge haha you can’t have this anymore I am awesome’.
Regardless of what we say our goal is, the aim of exercise is to elevate heart rate and challenge the muscles, joints and all the rest to achieve and maintain a resilient and healthy body.
If our only goals are health and longevity, then it doesn’t matter what we do to achieve those things. We can start looking past of what we can do in a gym. Or with a specific piece of equipment. Whether the activity fits the mold of traditional exercise is irrelevant. All that matters is that we hit The World Health Organizations’ recommended weekly physical activity targets.
The only reason the modern idea of exercise even exists is to combat the downsides of the modern sedentary lifestyle. Today, whenever someone doesn’t take part in any form of exercise, they’re the odd one out. But we only have to go back 40 (if that?) years and the one doing exercise would have been the oddball.
Let’s agree that the reason for exercise is to replace the physical activity we no longer do in our daily lives. This opens up the possibilities beyond formal exercise routines.
Adding more physical activity and movement into our day
One way to look at it is to increase the physical challenges in our comfortable suburban popcorn-like existence. To seek opportunities for needless every day “hardship”. Activities that we don’t need to do to survive. But we do it because it’s good for us. If not always fun.
I understand I am not making this sound appealing to anyone right now. But this is the stuff that makes us feel great after we’ve done it. Both physically and mentally:
- Parking the car unnecessarily far from the store and heaving the groceries back into the car without a trolly and oh my god get out of the way!
- Walking to the shops to get soap. Then carrying two bags of kitty litter home even though we already have four bags.
- Speed walking or even sprinting up hills when doing a casual stroll with the family.
- Using the stairs and taking multiple steps at once if you have the legs for it.
- Buying 100kg of soil for the garden and not letting anyone else carry a single bag.
But it can also be fun:
- Throwing a kid up and down at the beach (kid swings, if you will. Only use your own children).
- Carrying kids on the shoulders.
- Hanging from the bars at the playground – can you tell I’ve got young kids?
Opportunities like these are everywhere. Movement and “exercise” that doesn’t involve counting reps or timing rest periods or tracking the weights. Activities done while living.
We just have to learn to see them. And then take action without worrying what others might think of us.
It might not feel like it makes a difference, but it does
Just like a 20 minute daily walk, having these little daily movement snacks really makes a difference. I could do the math, but this is about not counting anything. Besides, after last week’s walking blog, I am positive that everyone is sick of physical activity related math.
Seeking to increase our physical activity in everyday moments moves (har har) us away from thinking exercise as this one dimensional thing that we have to do in a certain environment, with specific music, while being inundated with the hairy strangers’ body odours and only if we have 45 minutes to spare and our nipple flashing tight top on.
Breaking these mental chains of what we consider “exercise” brings back the freedom, fun and excitement into movement. While also removing the ego and competition from the equation.
So, we don’t need to exercise? Ever?
Well… If your goals are general health and longevity and if you can get your weekly activity levels to those aforementioned WHO levels, no, I don’t think you don’t need to participate in traditional exercise. Things change if your reason for exercise has a specific end goal beyond longevity and health.
Such as training for a sport, rehab, significantly increasing muscle mass, changing body composition beyond just getting slim, and the like. In which case, the entire term changes from exercise to training.
But I know most of you enjoy training, as do I. So we might as well keep doing what we enjoy doing. While adding some movement hardship on top.
Guideline for leanness, health, longevity, and let’s be honest here, looks
Here’s how I would structure a perfect week of training and physical activity for health, longevity and looks. Keeping in mind that this is the perfect scenario, which almost never happens.
- Two or three 30-45 minute full body strength training sessions at the 8-12 rep range using full ranges of motion and following a gradually progressive plan. Like this or this.
- One or two short, high-intensity cardio workouts.
- 45-60 minutes of daily moderate cardio at a conversational level. Anything goes. The more enjoyable you find it, the better.
Then I would look for any opportunity (such as those listed earlier) to increase the moderate activity throughout the week.
Also, it would be three strength workouts or two high-intensity cardio sessions. I wouldn’t max out on both columns in the same week. Because recovery and life. Perhaps three strength sessions and one high-intensity cardio suits best for most of us.
Now one could add yoga and the rest of the things in that category for flexibility. But it’s surprising how flexible we can get by just following smart training principles.
But yoga for mindfulness and stress release? Yep, I’m down(ward dog) for that.
Physical activity, movement and exercise are all the same thing. We think of exercise as this thing that we need to do in a certain environment (gym), with specific programs and equipment.
This thinking limits us from finding opportunities for movement in everyday situations.
A better alternative is to look for opportunities for vigorous physical activity and movement in our daily life. As ways to increase the physical challenges in our comfortable suburban popcorn-like existence.
To seek opportunities for needless every day “hardship”. For the lack of a better term. And then combining this with some more structured training sessions.
Having more specific goals beyond health and longevity means that we move away from random exercise and toward training. Something that’s done for narrow goals. Be it significant muscle building, rehab or sports performance.
As for overall health and longevity, anything goes as long as we reach the WHO’s targets for weekly physical activity.