Category: Movement Matters

Are You Needlessly Aging Yourself?

Dangle a time and effort saver in front of my face and my first reaction is – “I gotta have it!” Visions of ease (we all know I’m all about ease) dance merrily in my head until somewhere from the back of my brain a new “reality” creeps to the fore. I begin to see what all the lack of motion that comes with those devices begins to do to a body.

Huh? Seriously. Every time you stop doing something – be that carrying water, vacuuming, hanging laundry, reaching for things on the upper shelves – you limit your body’s movement potential. And when you stop using your body in more complex and demanding ways, you essentially tell your brain – “Nope, don’t need that skill anymore. You can forget about it.” Which is exactly what your brain does. It adapts to the more limited repertoire you’ve given it and it, and your body, become ever less adapted to a life that requires manual exertion and complex motion.

But, “I go to the gym,” you say. Great. Working out can be fun. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, social engagement (one of the best life extenders known to man) and defined muscles. But does it improve function?

How many people do you know who regularly work out who can’t open a jar of pickles, reach a glass from the top shelf, or complain that stooping to get something from under the sink gives them a backache? Well?

We humans are designed for movement. Lots of it. In infinitely varied ways. To live in a youthful body, we need to expand our movement potential rather than diminish it. (That’s a fancy way of saying “use it or lose it”.)

I’m not talking about hard labor. Excess is rarely appropriate. I’m talking about reclaiming movements like bending, squatting, reaching, stair climbing, walking, etc., that modern life and effort “savers” are slowly eliminating. Put movement back into your day and see if you don’t feel stronger, more flexible and, yes, younger.

How? Here are a few suggestions:

* Take the plates out of that drawer and put them back on the upper shelves.
* Take the stairs whenever you can.
* Running errands? Consolidate. Park once and walk between your stops.
* Ignore the pull-outs and bend down to reach appliances.
* Get on the floor to play with the kids (grandkids?), or watch tv or read.
* Take business on the road with mobile meetings. Walk with associates.
* Ditch the car. Walk the kids to school. Help carry their books.
* Try baking bread (kneading), whipping cream (stirring), etc. by hand.
* Walk on the grass, balance along a curb, hike uneven surfaces…

What other ways can you think of (and TRY) to expand your daily motions?

Pay Attention

Noticing is powerful stuff.  Here Ellen Langer discusses her research on the power of the mind (and mindfulness), to change lives and bodies.

Dr. Langer is one of my personal heroes.  She brings science to the all those things we hear in pop-psychology about how our thoughts affect not only our moods but our physiology as well.

In this interview, she discusses her work and gives practical advice on how to shift unhealthy patterns.  Hint: If you’re doing Feldenkrais ATM with mindfulness, you’re on your way.

Aging isn’t what it used to be

When you think of aging, what comes to mind?  Creaking joints?  Aching muscles?
It needn’t be so.
Here’s Feldenkrais Practitioner Cathy Paine performing live during a dance performance in Washington, DC.
Does it surprise you to learn that Cathy is 65 years-old?
I don’t know about you but I’d like to have what she has – grace, mobility, flexibility, ease – even as I get older.
Cathy’s secret?  Feldenkrais!

Don’t Stretch – Pandiculate

Dogs and cats do it. So do people, though you probably haven’t done it since you were a child. The “it” here is pandiculation. I’d never heard the word but it describes that reaching yawn dogs do when they get up from a nap. Once you read this article, chances are you’ll want to give it a try, too.