I had the opportunity today to listen to one of my favorite movement and health specialists today, albeit by a previously recorded podcast. In her book ‘Move Your DNA’ Katy Bowman had perhaps one of the most perfect analogies I’ve ever heard for movement health. It generally goes like this: we all know we need to eat to not just survive, but be healthy. However, I think we all know sitting down with a mountain of Snickers isn’t going to take care of our eating needs; it’s a bit more specific than that. We need a certain blend of macro and micronutrients, and how much we need of one kind may depend on how much we need or are getting of another, and our overall need will be contextual for our bodies and what they’re doing. So it’s not just that we need food, or even a specific amount of food, but we need a specific profile of nutrients to survive long term and have any real degree of health.

Movement is the same way. Katy Bowman and I share similar views about exercise, which is generally that it can be seriously beneficial and especially in our modern world I think it’s brilliant as it lets you very specifically and appropriately for your needs (if with good knowledge or appropriate professional guidance) fill some of your ‘weak points’ or goals you want to work on most, much like some kind of high powered high nutrient super food or vitamin. However, exercise in the modern sense is only one type of movement in that movement profile we need. The exercise itself can be excellent varied in what it offers, but it generally only fills 30-90 minutes of any given day and for most people, only a few days a week. What kind of movement are we getting the rest of the time?

This movement is everything from our sitting posture, how we carry groceries, if we are and how we’re walking as well as how much, our ability to and if we actually use hand eye coordination for tracking, catching throwing, or even if we run! Fundamental skills and movements like crawling, rocking, jumping, throwing and catching, balance, and many more have been lost and are not used in our daily lives, let alone just walking! But the thing is that in a time of advanced science and the first waves of DNA based medicine, we are almost ignoring the most important aspect: our lifestyle’s effect on DNA.

Down to the cellular DNA level our bodies and their chemistry is very smart! We are incredibly adaptive biochemical machines and also don’t waste energy on processes that don’t seem necessary; most aptly and recognizably summed up (the latter part that is) with move it or lose it! The way we move actually mechanically pushes on our cells in different ways, via amplitude, direction, frequency, and an enormous amount of very specific minutia that our cells can recognize and interpret, and then translate into chemical signals which alter how the cell behaves at the genetic level.

What this means is that even if you have some kind of ‘bad gene’ that may even be lethal, it may not be active or ever do anything to you if the stimuli you feed it by how you live keeps it dormant. Even aside from such dramatic, but real, effects, each of your cells know what you’re doing (they know if you’ve been naughty or nice! But…in a healthy or not way) and react accordingly. If you are active and dynamic and feed it good quality nutrients it will be a productive, healthy and happy cell. If you don’t move and it gets junk, it will sit there and stagnate in a very real fashion, and what happens to the cells, happens to the body.

The lesson of this whole analogy and the ideas behind it is that for ~2+ million years we moved! All day pretty much, and very dynamically because the needs of survival in the wild meant we did a lot of varied things, not just one kind of ‘exercise’ but all day movement for the point of survival. No, I don’t expect nor am I trying to get you all to quit your jobs and spend your lives foraging out of Forest Park. The point is that most of us are painfully deficient in most of our ‘movement nutrients’ and there are ways to get them back within the average American lifestyle, which will contribute greatly to giving you energy and real vibrancy, performance, a healthier weight, and a hell of a lot pain, movement dysfunctions and the ability to carry this all into your golden years. I try to offer as much to my clients as I can by helping them fill the most important and needed ‘movement vitamins’ for their situation and their goals, but taking this outside of the gym is completely necessary to get the health, vibrancy and longevity that is your birthright as an animal human.

Take a look at the picture below (which is a rather handy link!) if you want to take a look at her book ‘Moving Your DNA,’ this link right here if you want to hear the podcast I got to listen to today, or visit her site at http://www.katysays.com/

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