By Ben Longley
‘Nutritious movement’ or ‘Nutritious exercise’ is not a term or concept most people would have heard of, much less thought about, however if you take the time to grasp this concept it will change the way you look at exercise and your health forever
Lets start with an analogy, using nutrition, to help us establish the sort of reasoning and thinking which will help you grasp the concept of ‘nutritious movement’
We all know the importance of food when it comes to optimizing our health, but we also know that the word ‘food’ is a very broad term, which could mean a whole variety of different things, with a very broad effect on our health.
Imagine if you were to go all day without eating any food…
Your body has a way of signaling that you need the input of food otherwise there is going to be some potentially serious physiological consequences.
The signaling will come in the form of hunger, irritability, mental fatigue, lethargy, light-headedness etc.
If you lived in extreme poverty or were stranded on a desert island, and were to go for a few days or weeks without food, there would be some more obvious physiological consequences like extreme loss of fat & muscle tissue, along with some serious stress to every organ & system in your body.
So FOOD in it broadest sense, is very desirable at this point (starvation), and if you were in this situation then ANY food is going to help you stave of death.
A pizza and a can of coke would save your life.
If you’re reading this then you’re probably in the fortunate position to be able to choose your food options based on other priorities.
You’re probably not making food decisions based on overcoming starvation.
So now its time consider other things like feeling optimal, energetic, preventing sickness, ensuring long term health for the future, and looking good or feeling comfortable with your physical appearance and body composition.
The suggestion that you should ‘eat food’ is no longer a useful piece of advice.
The pizza and Coke will not serve you anymore.
They will actually do you harm now that you’ve moved up higher on the priority list.
This should all make perfect sense up to this point; we all intuitively know this stuff.
Stay with me it’s leading to a point.
So when considering what constitutes a healthy diet, there are some choices that need to be made like ‘How much should I eat?’, this is typically monitored as calorie intake, and it’s not a bad place to start,
But it’s not enough…
As we delve deeper we would start to consider the macronutrient ratio’s like what percentage of carbs, proteins and fats should be consumed as part of the total intake.
Still not enough…
We should think about the type and quality of the food we are getting these carbs, fats and proteins from. We know that the carbs in a bag of lollies will have a different effect on our body than the carbs from a sweet potato.
What about vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants???
As we delve deeper into the realm of optimizing our health (which is a part of optimizing body composition), there are a lot more considerations to be made other than ‘eat food’.
So given we understand all the different variables in regards to food and optimal nutrition, lets consider another type of input which can have just as big an impact on our health & wellbeing
Exercise & Daily Movement.
Lets use the same reasoning we used for food.
If you just sat in a chair all day, every day and did not move at all, there would be some obvious physiological consequences like weight gain, muscle loss, joint stiffness and pain, weakening of your heart & cardiovascular system, just to name a few.
Think of these things as like movement ‘hunger’ signals. Your body is suffering from a lack of healthy movement inputs.
Your body is craving movement.
Most people have experienced these movement ‘hunger’ signals before, at least to some degree, sometimes without even realizing it.
For most people, alot of it does have to do with being stuck in a chair slumped over a desk for a large part of the day. (or driving a car, sitting on the couch etc).
Your daily movement inputs (or lack thereof), are almost always a big contributor, if not totally responsible for:
– Sore & stiff backs, necks, shoulders, hips, knees etc
– Weight gain, obesity, diabetes
– Heart disease
– Degeneration of joints, spines
– High cholesterol
– Even depression & mental health issues!
And the list goes on!
So the blanket, generic advice that you may hear is to ‘do some exercise’.
Exercise in general can help with all of these issues, especially in modern society which revolves around sitting down with minimal movement for a large portion of the day.
The problem is many people assume that all exercise and movement is created equal.
This is not the case.
If you are starved for movement and you don’t do ANY exercise ever, then ANY movement input is going to be a step in the right direction.
Stomping your feet up and down, whilst rubbing your belly and patting your head for 30 mins every day would actually make you healthier.
But we all know there is a wide variety of ways to move, and ways to exercise.
We need to move beyond the assumption that ALL exercise and movement are equal and start to think about the other variables.
Just like food, we have to consider the TYPE and QUALITY of movement or exercise you are giving your body, and it has to take into account the other movement inputs (or lack thereof) you are giving yourself throughout the day.
If you spend most of your day like this guy…
Your body is basically starved for movement.
Remember, your stiff back, tight neck, sore shoulders, tight hips, and sore knees are your movement ‘hunger’ signals.
Many people decide to pick a singular form of movement like running or riding (at the exclusion of everything else) to ‘tick their exercise box’ for the day, on the assumption that all exercise is equal and just because it burns calories or makes you hot and sweaty it is a great idea. (Do any of these postures look at all similar?)
And this movement IS better than what they were doing before, however, it is the exercise equivalent of pizza and Coke for the starving man.
It is poor quality movement, simply burning empty calories.
You might feel great choosing to specialize in running or riding in the short term, and it might improve your health in the short term, but for every positive benefit there are also negative consequences of spending your time doing these things.
Broccoli is healthy and all, but if I only ate broccoli to the exclusion of everything else, I would get some major nutritional deficiencies and get very sick.
Do these activities if you enjoy it, that’s another story, but understand what it is and what it isn’t doing for you from a health perspective.
Just like pizza and Coke will catch up with you over the long term, this will catch up with you too, typically through a combination of systemically tight, weak, and unbalanced muscles creating a cascading affect of movement dysfunction and chronic tightness and pain.
Just like the forces and mechanical loads placed upon a growing tree by the wind will change its structure (posture) over time, so too will the forces and the mechanical loads you place on your body.
Think of your body as like a malleable ball of clay, that will gradually respond to the forces and inputs imposed upon it over your lifetime. You might not notice day-to-day or week to week, but you will notice years from now. Your body will be a byproduct of your daily movement inputs.
Sitting on exercise machines, riding bikes, long distance running etc These activities exacerbate the common issues that arise from sitting all day.
Hunched shoulders, rounded spines, hips flexed, forward head posture etc,
This is ‘exercise’ for the sake of burning ‘empty’ calories with no regard for:
– How your flexibility, joint range of motion and movement capabilities will be affected,
– The impact this will have on your total body strength & body composition,
– The overuse injuries from constantly repeating the same movement over and over again,
– The unbalanced wear and tear to your spine, hips, knees, ankles,
One day you injure your back, shoulder or knee doing something (often seemingly harmless) but little did you realize that this was a long time in the making.
You’ve been driving your car with the wheels out of alignment for too long and something had to give.
Unless you are aware of these common issues, and proactively work to counteract them, you will lose your ability to display the myriad of other movements a normal human body should be able to do perform. That everyone could once perform if you go back far enough in time.
Sprint, jump, climb, bend, hop, lunge, crawl, get up from the floor, hang from a bar and pull up your bodyweight, and move with freedom. (see: kids in a playground for great examples)
We don’t inherently have to lose these abilities just because we get older. We lose them slowly but surely because we stop providing our bodies with these movement inputs.
Just like the rusty old door on your back shed, if you don’t keep using it, it will get stiff and creaky.
Most people don’t realize till its too late or never at all.
Some people wlll never connect the dots between their daily movement inputs and their eventual debilitating pain or injury
And if you really just don’t care about how you function (wait till you’re older), and if you only care about how you look, then consider this…
How you look is largely a by-product of what you can do.
The reason why a fit, healthy body is aesthetically pleasing is because it is an indication of your movement capabilities and general physical health.
Training purely for looks is like reverse engineering, and it wont work in the long term. If your body is broken in 5 or10 years, you won’t be able to exercise with any decent level of intensity to make much of a difference anyway.
Plus here’ a pretty cool little graphic I found:
So What Constitutes Nutritious Exercise / Movement?
Your choice of exercise should ideally involve a variety of different movement patterns, and should factor in, and counteract, the movement (or lack thereof) which is an inherent, unavoidable part of your working day.
For the vast majority of people, they should look to counteract the negative consequences of sitting with:
Active mobility drills & stretches such as:
Lunging and T-spine mobility
Thoracic Spine Extension & Rotation
Hip Flexor stretching
Strength Training variations using all of the fundamental human movement patterns, like:
and there’s plenty of other movements which blend strength and mobility together, such as crawling variations.
These types of movements will ensure that the daily forces imposed on your body will stay evenly distributed and will maintain and improve strength, muscle balance, functionality and help to maintain healthy range of motion through all segments of your body.
It will do all of these thing as well as build muscle (tone) and burn body fat.
Now remember I mentioned, just like food, we need to consider both the TYPE and QUALITY of our exercise or movement inputs.
The above movements, all written down on paper can be done completely wrong and can be detrimental to your body. This is commonly done so.
This push up:
Will not have the same effect as this one:
and this applies for every single strength training movement you do.
Its not just doing it, it is HOW you do it that matters.
These concepts around movement quality, correct technique and the analogy of ‘nutritious movement’ are things that MOST people do not think about, but its an extremely important determining factor in your long term health and functionality and therefore your long term success from a body composition standpoint.
I often receive phone calls from people enquiring about personal training and sometimes the biggest determining factor is price. People are window shopping for the cheapest option because they think all exercise is equal. Joe Bloggs PT who might train you at the park for $20 thinks the same thing.
If you train at The Fit Stop then you are receiving nutritious movement whether you realise it or not.
But start to think about how you move, how you perform, become aware of your body, ask questions, and learn about the only body you will ever have.
You will thank yourself later.
And if you are reading this, looking around for a personal trainer or group training options to help you with exercise, it is a worthy investment in your time and money to consider these things now. Exercise and strength training is a lot more than getting tired or getting sweaty, HOW you do it is just as important and you might think you are doing all the right things on paper, but are you really?
If anyone would like to book a Functional Movement Assessment to get a better insight into your body and some specific movements you can do to improve your functionality and performance, just send through an enquiry on the ‘contact us’ page.
If you are a current Fit Stop group training member and would like some feedback or help just email, text, call or ask us when you’re next at the gym.
We are here to help 🙂
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