#Everyday Health #Functional Sports Medicine

Make movement a higher priority than exercise

// January 28, 2020

Anyone who has spent time inside a gym is probably familiar with “that guy” who looks jacked, but has trouble moving athletically! We need to start thinking about fitness differently. Long-term wellness isn’t just about looking good, it’s about moving well – gracefully and efficiently.

Take your lead from children and animals. They don’t set aside large chunks of time for exercise. They just move! If you want to be able to stay active now and well into your senior years, some of the best physical predictors of aging well are the ability to squat then stand from a squatting position, grip strength and pace of walking. (Notice the ability to bench press 1.5 times your body weight isn’t on this list.)

Start by being mindful of how you might work the following five elements into your daily life. I’m willing to bet that your routine has plenty of opportunities for incorporating more movement, and I’ve given you a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Speed: The speed of your gait is a powerful indicator of your vitality. To increase your walking speed, stand up straight while walking. Breathe naturally. Take quicker steps. Your stride will naturally become longer.
  2. Strength: Grip strength is a measure of overall body strength, not just a test to see if you can unscrew the lid from a pickle jar. People who routinely lift objects with their hands (think plastic bags filled with groceries) tend to have pretty good grip strength.
  3. Power: Power refers to your ability to overcome resistance in a short period of time. In ancient times, hunters didn’t throw spears at their prey nonstop for hours. But they put a lot of power behind a throw when it counted. For more power, start taking the stairs at a faster pace or climbing them two at a time.
  4. Agility: Engage your core while walking, lifting or bending. Practice getting up from your chair without using your arms or hands. Try balancing on one foot, then the other.  Stretch to improve your flexibility. (If you can still touch the floor with the palms of your hands, keep doing it.)
  5. Endurance: Think of this as having the stamina to stay active. Mow the lawn without taking a break. Ride your bicycle with the kids, and don’t stop until they do!

In addition to better mobility, consistent intentional movement reduces your risks for chronic diseases and contributes to overall longevity. The goal is for you to be able to do the activities that bring you pleasure, and be less dependent on others, now and for a long time into the future.