PRiMEHealth together with TheOptimal.me
4 women, 2 facts, 1 simple truth.
Let’s start with the facts:
Fact #1: Amongst other things, diminishing balance and muscle mass starts happening as early as your 20s.
Fact #2: You can positively impact how quickly and to what extent these changes occur, regardless of your genetics, environment, or current health.
So how do you combine the sad reality of Fact #1 with the hopeful promise of Fact #2?
You focus on the pillars of health that determine functional wellness.
Functional wellness begins with an understanding of the “why” we feel a certain way, rather than the “what” we feel.
It takes into consideration nutrition, medication, mindfulness, and exercise and helps ensure that all parts and systems of the body will work as they were designed to function.
In the first article of the series, let’s kick off talking about exercise or movement.
As we hit midlife, a functional approach to exercise is increasingly important because it is about moving to feel better. This requires moving the whole body, often.
For most of us, the notion of “whole body” movement is new since we’ve been conditioned to think any exercise ticks the “whole body” movement box.
Meet Judy, Jean, Jacki, and Laura.
55, Freelance writer. Loves exercise. Has a home gym with standing bike and weights for cardio and strength training. Works out 5x a week for at least 45 minutes. Includes yoga to stretch out and wind down her exercise session. Judy looks fit and strong, but recently her knees and lower back are giving her trouble and she finds herself injured more frequently.
Jean: 45, Home executive. Spends most of the day on her feet, cleaning the house, running errands, looking after her children, husband and parents. She has time for herself on weekends when she reads, gets her nails done, and relaxes with friends and family. Although she thinks about it, scheduled exercise doesn’t feature in her plans.
Jacki: 62, Recently retired. Walks for an hour at least 4x a week. Bikes and hikes when she can. Due to Covid, she’s spending more time listening to podcasts, reading, and watching TV. It’s become harder to get her legs moving after long periods of sitting. Her energy isn’t and strength is not what it was, and the thought of learning to paddleboard scares her.
Laura: 48, Working professional. Starts her day with a 5 mile run 3 to 4 x a week. She’s at her desk from 9 – 6:30, spends 2 hours on the sofa watching tv, and is in bed by 10. On weekends, she and her husband cycle or hike. She’s noticed she’s much stiffer than before and has new aches and pains when she gets out of bed.
Our body’s journey from carefree to careful.
Think about how we move through life. As babies and toddlers, we have no understanding of physical limitations. We eat our toes, roll around joyfully, learn to sit, stand, tumble, twist and dance. We move without thought or fear and experience new things – the grass tickling our feet; the freedom and joy of skipping.
Fast forward a decade or two and not only has our physical capacity begun diminishing, but by the time we hit our stride at work and home, movement and exercise is something we include in our busy schedules as a “must do”, or ignore as something we just “don’t have time, energy or capability to do.”
Make life your playground, not an obstacle course.
The dictionary defines functional as ‘designed to be practical and useful’. And that’s the purpose of our bodies; to carry us through life, able to do the things we need to do to survive and bring us joy.
So the question becomes, are you moving (and exercising) in a way that will keep your body functional? That will help you increase stability, flexibility, strength, and balance. That will reduce pain and the likelihood of injury. That helps you show up for a life you love?
“I believe that as we hit midlife and look ahead into the future, one thing we can all agree on is that we don’t want to give up our physical freedom. It’s what keeps us active and engaged in life whether it’s traveling, gardening, or playing with grandkids. Whatever your passion is, the ability to move freely is critical to enjoying life” says TheOptimal.me founder, Liz Grantham.
Fact of Life #2: You can positively impact how quickly and to what extent physical decline occurs.
Back to Judy, Jean, Jackie, and Laura. No doubt some of you were envious of Judy and Jean’s disciplined, regular exercise routines!
However, shocking as it might seem, Jean is doing more to maintain her functional capabilities than anyone else. Why?
She’s up and down, on all fours packing and tidying, lifting boxes overhead, making beds, vacuuming underneath them, dusting. Her movement is integrated, engaging upper and lower body at the same time, moving up and down, twisting and rotating – working all her muscles, tendons and joints at once. Without thinking about it, she’s incorporating flexibility, balance, mobility, strength, and endurance training into her day, every day.
Everyone else is doing exercise in verticality (standing or sitting) and in a linear way, using the same sets of muscles repeatedly, and in isolation. They may be fit, but not necessarily fit for purpose.
Integrated movement: A Retirement Policy for Your Body
Now we are not suggesting you change your profession and become housekeepers (although a study did show that hospitality workers who clean multiple rooms daily are the most functionally fit!). Nor are we saying you should stop what you are already doing. What we are recommending is you start a movement routine that will help you stay active, strong, and feeling ten years younger!
By adding integrated movement to your day, moving your whole body regularly, you are protecting your ability to enjoy and embrace the future – whatever it may bring!
Integrated Movement Routines (IMRs) could be the best 15 minutes of your day
IMRs are based on movement patterns that mimic how we move naturally in life. The practice of IMRs will significantly improve your alignment, flexibility, mobility, and balance. You will learn to understand your body and at the same time improve your alignment. And because like everything in life, there’s no “one size fits all” solution to how our bodies move, you can modify the movements based on your individual needs. Plus, IMRs are progressive; you get to start at the level you’re comfortable with and improve at your own pace.
Your body, your self
When you move your entire body, every muscle, joint, and tendon with integrated movement patterns that help increase your functional capacity, you are taking control of how you age.
The second article in the series will focus on nutrition. Food can help or harm because we are what we eat.
Go to www.theoptimal.me and take the 21 Day First Steps to Physical Freedom course offered as part of a Free 30 Day Trial. It will help you start a new integrated movement habit for life!