Thursday, 20 March 2014

Active Living

I hate exercise. It's not so much the doing of exercise I hate as the whole concept of putting aside time with the express purpose of torturing your body. While I know it's good for me it seems so unnatural.  And I reckon I have proof that it is unnatural. Well perhaps not proof but supporting observations.

A few years back our family went on a holiday to Africa. As I look back at that trip I don't remember seeing anyone, animal or human, exercising. What I saw was two things.   For the vast majority of the time everything moved slowly, very slowly.   While the movements were slow they were constant. You didn't see a lot of lazing around except for the lions maybe.

The second thing you saw very occasionally was full tilt sprints for a short period.  Sometimes this was a fright response to seeing us tourists, in natural settings it is more likely to be the food chain in action as hunter and prey burst into life.  I began to wonder.

Then last year sometime I watched a program on BBC called Horizon. On this particular episode they talked about exercise and it's impact. Simplistically their conclusion was that if you focused on moving constantly and then occasionally stressed to body to maximum (3 x 20 second sprints 3 x a week) then you would get the vast majority of benefits that exercise has to offer.  Seemed pretty consistent with what I saw I Africa.

Of course when I began to compare all of this to my life the difference was stark. I mainly sat and movement was typically limited to walking to and from the car or between meetings. I always thought that I needed to do more exercise but that hatred of it meant that it never happened. Slowly  however I began to realise that maybe I didn't need more exercise but rather what I needed was create an active lifestyle. A way of living that caused me to move naturally and often. So I have set about experimenting to do just that.

For me it started by putting the car away and walking.   Walking is a natural act we are designed for and now I only drive to work as a last resort. Instead I walk to and from. I have begun to organise my formal meeting commitments in a way that means I have time to walk there.  My phone has a pedometer built in so I can track how far I have walked. What a difference. 

Historically I have walked about 1500 to 2000 steps now on average I am doing about 8000 to 10,000 with a record of 17,000.  Interestingly I have more energy and better focus when I work and I sleep better.  The only down side was an early blister on my big toe and some fatigue in my legs occasionally.  The best thing however is I enjoy it,  it's becoming natural and it feels right.

No comments: