I really like to sweat! I want a really good workout!
If I’m going to make the time, I really need to make it count.
Does this sound familiar? For a lot of us, in our busy lives with too much to do and not enough time to do it all, we feel the need to make the most of our exercise time. Going for the burn and making big movements appeals to the sensation junkie in us all! It seems pretty sensible, but there are a couple of other ways to look at it….
When we bust through a work out we might be a bit distracted, not really putting all our attention on the activity at hand.The problem is that by approaching movement this way all the time, we don’t access the little, intrinsic muscles that provide the support for our joints. Your muscles respond to the way you use them the most, not the way you would like to use them, or think that you are using them.
Do you want to be more flexible? When you stretch, you might bypass your tightest spots. Finding those spots and modifying how you stretch will help you make lasting change to the length of your muscles. Make more effective use of your stretching time and have longer, leaner muscles.
Do you want to be stronger? When you do loaded bodywork, you might sink into your ligaments at least some of time. Learning when you do that and how to avoid it will mean that you really work the right muscles at the right time which again makes more efficient use of your time as well your body.
Doing a mindful movement class requires that you slow down and pay attention to your usual patterns. Part of what we want to teach you is how you usually move, and how you can change that for a more efficient pattern. That means a slower approach to exercise, but one that allows for lasting change. Think of your class not as your big exercise moment of the week, but as the way you prepare your body for optimal movement in everything you do.
Use that preparation from the slower, more focused class to support you in the bigger, more dramatic activities you love. Are you a runner or a cyclist? Those are great for your head and if they make you happy, that’s fantastic!
Running and biking both benefit from stronger glutes, hamstrings and lateral hip musculature, but they don’t necessarily develop those muscles on their own. Each one is primarily a hip-flexion activity that continues the shape we are in most of the time (a variation on the flexed hip sitting position).
Doing exercises that develop those muscle groups will support your sporting choices, protect your hips and knees from injury, help prevent osteoporosis and pelvic floor issues and provide more muscle mass in areas you don’t typically use, which burns more calories. Win, win, win!
The other way to look at “getting your exercise” is to think about moving as much as you can all day long. You only burn a limited number of calories during a 1 hour workout, no matter how dedicated you are. If you replace the idea of “exercise” as a thing you fit into your day, with the idea of “moving as much as possible”, you get more bang for your buck each and every day. Sure, it’s not as intense as those “feel the burn” sessions, but it’s sustainable, all day, every day activity which is how we were intended to move.
Here are some everyday movement basics that can really add up for more joint mobility AND more muscle strength without adding any extra time to your day.
Sit on the floor as often as you can, and get up and down without using your hands if that’s possible for you. Use lots of different sitting positions and heights (think bolsters and cushions as well as the floor) and lots of different ways of getting up and down. Burns calories, requires atypical movement and makes you think about how to move, which is good for your brain.
Alternate sitting, standing and leaning when you work. When you stand, shift from two feet to one foot, one foot to the other. Stretch your calves and ankles. Roll your feet on a tennis ball while you talk on the phone. Good for hips, legs and feet, increases circulation and energy. Especially good if you work long hours at a computer!
Hang from stuff. Door knobs, stair railings, ttc handles, playground structures, tree branches. Keep your feet on the floor and just bend your knees until you get the right amount of load or your hands and shoulders. Stretches chest and shoulder muscles, stimulates blood and lymph flow, excellent for breast health. Check out this blog post for an introduction to hanging ideas. And here’s a quick YouTube video with some of my fave hanging preps. Fyi, hanging can be rewardingly intense…
Less intensity may feel less exciting, but it is more effective for developing a strong, supple body, more productive of all over-body activation and more efficient at allowing continuous movement for whole body health. Then use what you learned in your “less” intense class to do some “more” intense activities safely and with intentful use of your core structures!