24 May Natural Movement in Summertime
I love the phrase from William Cowper’s poem, “The Task” (1785): “Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavour.”
Our natural movement varies with our interests, different seasons, certain landscapes and of course our individual capacity. We should aim for variety in our movement.
When you are organizing your schedule this summer, keep in mind that it’s ok to stop visiting the gym to get your cardio, strength and flexibility. Take a holiday from all that balanced programming you are accustomed to during the school year.
Summertime is a great time for making little changes in your type of movement, intensity, and frequency.
Look at various locations you are planning to spend time this summer. Are you going to be staying closer to water or the mountains?
Have you considered biorhythms? Our movement is affected over the course of the day, month, and year. In summer, it may be easy for you to get up at 5.30 am and go for a run or a walk. However, you might change that schedule in the winter months because it might not be the best time of the day for your body and it could feel like you really have to push through. Some of us love to stay attached to the times of our exercise regime whether it lines up with our natural rhythm or not. Some of us have to keep the schedule for movement and that is great, too.
We lose a lot of natural movement during the school year. Lots of driving, sitting in school and sitting at work can have a great impact on the function of our musculoskeletal tissue.
If you sit for a living, even exercising every day won’t undo the cardiovascular damage that excess sitting can contribute to.
Try to reduce your sitting time this summer. You will be using more muscles and keeping your bones loaded (read more about weight bearing on my Bone Blog). At the same time, you will be lengthening those stubborn hamstrings!
Lack of movement can harm our circulation (read more about cardiovascular system on my Cardio Blog.) When our muscles contract, they draw blood into them, flushing out waste, and keeping our system flowing. When we sit for long periods and do not use our muscles, our circulation decreases; waste collects, which can cause swelling, and the rate of cell regeneration decreases. Subsequently, ailments such as osteoarthritis, low bone density, degenerated spines can result and we can develop tension in the neck, jaw, and eyes.
On the other hand, frequent exercise with high loads and repetitions with incorrect alignment, is the main reason why people who exercise can still have all the same ailments as people who sit around all day long.
Our bodies have over 650 muscles. Each one of them needs to be at a certain length to keep the joints at the optimal mobility. Taking some time to learn about anatomy and biomechanics is always a good idea.
Balanced movement for a lifetime of quality longevity.
Before you head out for summer, make a list of your body parts, which are possibly under-developed. The ones you do not focus on very much during the school year.
Is it your legs? Your glutes? Do you have enough upper body strength to do a pull up? How is your balance?
Once you have a list of the areas that are stubborn to change, stretch them everyday, and then follow up with some sort of natural movement that works them.
Let’s look at some examples of natural moments in summertime.
Walking provides fantastic biological benefits that no other exercise provides. Walk often, every day, rain or shine! Don’t avoid pebble paths or rocky roads, it is great for your brain. Different textures challenge your feet and your balance and work different muscles.
If you are spending summertime in the mountains, enjoy walking up a big hill. Add a backpack or give a piggyback ride to a tired child and notice how it changes the way you use the muscles in your body. Added bonus – by walking, one can slow down and appreciate their surroundings.
Rough housing with the kids, doing flips and tricks is great natural movement plus, the connection we get from this kind of play is fantastic. Everyone gets to use their strength. In this category, I must include my favourite – monkey bars – doing some hanging to strengthen wrists and the upper body.
A berry picking outing is a great way to enjoy the community of friends and families! Kids learn tons about how berries grow, and all that walking in a squat is great natural movement. Do not forget to breathe and get your diaphragm moving as well.
Living on a big property comes with a lot maintenance tasks, which means a lot of opportunities for natural movement. Raking the beach, picking up leaves and branches, grass cutting, gardening, picking fruit off trees and tree climbing provide a lot of natural movement. There is always so much to do around the house and garden.
And of course, I cannot forget mountain biking and cycling.
If you are going to be spending lots of time at rivers, lakes and oceans, enjoy all the swimming, kayaking, canoeing, body surfing and paddle boarding for your upper body, core strength and overall balance. Building sand castles is an activity that provides a lot of bending down, squatting, crawling, and balance while you switch from one knee to another. Plus, you get to fit in some nice stretching, too.
Consistently moving differently throughout the day will have a very positive impact on your health and well being.
Do not feel bad about not going to the gym this summer if that is what you do all year long. Keep your movement natural this time of year.
You would not start to diet in summer when the food is most abundant, right? That would be an unnatural rhythm, but that could be a topic for another blog!
Here is to summertime and an abundance of fun movement with family and friends. Cheers!