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You've got to move it, move it

Welcome to the latest edition of "Body Brain Bite" - a short newsletter with some interesting articles, research and information to help you feel and function at your best.


In the last edition, we explored different practices to help you to manage the stress you experience in life. Now, I'm shifting the focus to exercise and movement, and how different types of movement support the body and brain system in different ways. In pulling together this edition, I've been struck by just how much information and research there is on this topic. So, I'm going to split this one into three editions:

  1. This first edition explores the benefits of movement for our bodies and living a long and healthy life

  2. The second edition will cover the many and varied benefits of movement on the brain

  3. The third edition will examine GMB as a method in more detail, and how it covers so many of the body and brain benefits to be gained from movement

Move more, live longer

We generally know that "exercise" is good for us, that it can help us to be healthy and live longer. In the lessons from the Blue Zones (areas in the world where a disproportionate percentage of the population live to 100), they found that moving naturally, regularly throughout the day is the key to living longer. The world's longest living people don't 'exercise' but they move regularly in natural ways. Movement is engineered into their daily lives - walking, riding, household chores, gardening, twisting, bending, getting up and down from the floor, carrying things and so on.


In fact, it has even been reported that 'sitting is the new smoking'. Researchers have found that people who sit for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to that posed by obesity and smoking.

 

Moving naturally includes all seven of the natural human movement patters: push, pull, squat, hinge, lunge, twist and carry. So, if you are sitting at your desk while you're reading this, stand up, touch your toes, twist from side to side and continue to wriggle while you read!


Longevity markers

On the topic of longevity, there are two particularly interesting physical markers associated with living longer - standing up from the floor and grip strength.

 

The ability to move from standing to sitting on the floor and standing back up again, without using your hands, has been shown to be a reliable marker of longevity. The overall physical strength and coordination required to do this means that you are less likely to fall and injure yourself. And, if you do fall, you will be able to get up from the floor to call for help.

 

Test yourself now... stand up, cross one foot behind the other and lower yourself to the floor slowly with control, without using your hands. Now, reverse the movement and stand back up again, without using your hands. Could you do it? Yes, that's great! Keep it up. No? Check out lead GMB trainer, Connor showing some simple movements to build this physical capability.



Grip strength is another physical marker of overall health and longevity. Overall our hands are getting weaker due to increased mobile phone use, touch screens and changes in the way we move and carry objects.


I found it very interesting to also learn that grip strength is an effective measure of exercise recovery, due to the complex neural and physical networks that activate grip strength.

 

Strength training is a great way to build grip strength, but you can also do very simple exercises that don't involve any fancy equipment or expensive gym memberships - try wringing out a wet towll or squeezing a tennis ball. You can go the park and hang from the monkey bars. Start with a supported hang with your feet on the ground and progress to unsupported and then one arm hangs. Functional movements like the bear walk are also great.




Exercise and inflammation

We often hear about inflammation as negative, but it's the body's resonse to infection and other stressors, and some level is necessary and desirable. Inflammation is part of our normal immune response, we just don't want excessive or chronic inflammation. Small controlled stressors are great for teaching us how to better handle stressors that are pushed upon us without our control. Exercise, at moderate levels, produces small amounts of inflammation that are good for us, and the benefits are felt at their greatest after 6-8 weeks of an exercise program.


Exercise and weight loss

I couldn't really do an issue on movement without covering weight management. Maintaining a healthy weight is critical for overal health and longevity. But, exercise often isn't effective at supporting weight loss or management. 



Some workouts actually make us feel more hungry, or we may overestimate how much energy we've burned in a workout and overcompensate by eating too much, actually leading to weight gain. 

 

A key player in this is ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates our appetite. When you workout at high intensity, ghrelin is suppressed, making you feel less hungry. When you workout a low intensity or in cold conditions, like swimming, it can stimulate ghrelin, making you feel more hungry.

 

A few key tips for exercising for weight management:

  • Include high intensity in your movement

  • Work out earlier in the day

  • Choose anything over swimming! (if weight management or loss is your goal)

  • Remember, hunger passes. Drink some water and pause before treating yourself becuase you've 'earned it'

  • Move naturally and frequently throughout the day

  • Build muscle, as this will raise you base metabolic rate, meaning your muscles will burn more energy throughout the day even when you're not moving


Body Brain Reset Program

Natural movement is a key focus of the Body Brain Reset program we run. The program runs for 8 weeks, which is an ideal timeframe to really feel benefits of making changes, and establish new practices as embedded habits.


The program runs 4 times per year in line with the school terms. Please get in touch with us at katie@structuredcreative.com.au to find out more or to register for the next intake.


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