I want you to kill exercise with me.
A very strange request from a guy who has been taking part in or encouraging others to exercise for twenty-odd years. So why would I want you to kill exercise? I mean, that would be me out of a job!
Well let’s have a look…
How we ‘exercise’
‘Exercise’ at its most basic is:
“planned, structured, and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body. Exercise is used to improve health, maintain fitness and is important as a means of physical rehabilitation.” (source:medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/exercise)
This is normally done over an hour or so at a specific time that we allocate in our day for doing movements to prescribed sets, reps, time or distance.
Exercise has its roots in reversing or preventing health problems. While I believe that this is a very good thing, I also believe that this might have warped our views of exercise and ultimately, fitness.
We generally see exercise as a way to achieve a goal; whether that’s to get stronger or get those abs that have been eluding us for years.
We read endless articles and magazines to find the holy grail of what exercise regime will help us achieve our goals best. We deliberate over the best amount of reps to get those gains; we agonise over whether we should run steady for an hour or do 30 second sprints. We move from one programme to another hoping against all odds that this one programme will change our lives.
Now, I love an exercise plan (you should see me when I am planning my latest exercise regime.) For me, manipulating reps, sets, tempos and rest periods is like being a kid in a sweet shop. I believe that a good trainer should have a good understanding of how to use these variables to get the most out of training sessions.
BUT! I am sure you know someone (or are someone!) who has been going to the gym for as long as you can remember and always does the same thing. They jump on the treadmill and do their cardio; they do their dead-lifts; their bicep curls…month after month, year after year, over and over again.
However,viewing and doing exercise this way turns it into a robotic formula of ‘do X, add Y and you will get Z.’ This is NOT how our bodies really work.
How we move
Exercise is just movement. Movement we have put into a box we call exercise.
Let me hit you with an interesting stat:
There are 10,080 minutes in our 7 day week. If we exercise for 60 minutes a day, 7 days a week, that’s 480 minutes out of a possible 10,080 minutes.
That’s a mere 5% of your week!
That’s 95% of your week not exercising .
We sit, we work and we sleep. We do a bit of exercise to make ourselves feel better. Then we repeat.
And this is why we need to kill exercise. Let’s break that exercise box wide open and release the potential of movement.
I was walking past a school the other day and I watched as the kids were playing. They were jumping up and hanging on some goalposts (I am sure they weren’t really allowed to do this but they were having fun). And do you know what hit me? If you asked these kids what they were doing, what would they say? They’d say they were playing, just messing around. They would not say “exercising.” They would not list off how many jumps they were going to do or how long they were going to hang on to the goalposts for. They were simply moving.
I want to let you into a little secret.
Your body is amazing! It has so much potential; so much potential for awesomeness. Give it the chance to achieve this.
Going from exercise to movement
So, let’s stop exercising and and just start moving.
We have incredible bodies that are able to do mind bending things and instead of looking to get on a treadmill to try and burn off the 170 calories you feel guilty about…why not try and do a movement you haven’t tried before? You have a lunch break; why not try a handstand? A headstand? A different hill? A new stretch? You don’t have to work up a sweat; you don’t have to push yourself to the point where you feel like you are going to throw up. You just have to move.
Not only will trying to learn a new movement help you physically but it will increase your mental capabilities- yes, it will actually help you think better! Your coordination will improve, your spacial awareness will increase and you will end up working muscles in a way they probably haven’t been worked before.
Stop restricting movement by putting it into this little box we call exercise. Just move. Enjoy moving. Move in all kinds of ways. Crawl, climb, run, jump, hop…
…let’s reclaim movement and stop limiting ourselves to exercise.
-Nathaniel Soderberg, Fitness Specialist