The body needs to move in order to survive, whether it’s through an active lifestyle or through exercise. Movement is linked to every function and process in the body, and the benefits are undeniable. Our bodies were built to move, not to stay sedentary in the way they can often be found today. Years ago, our basic needs would be met through movement, whether it would be hunting, foraging or fighting for our food, partners or against predators, and without the ability to move, our lives would be in danger. Despite us generally not having to physically fight for our partners or prey nowadays, the same principles still remain in that without movement, our health and wellbeing is compromised and can indeed be at risk.
Movement is critical in maintaining the function of our bodies in their entirety, everything from the functioning of our heart, our joints, our muscles and our brains. In terms of our physical wellbeing, movement helps with the maintenance of our cardiovascular health, bone density, immune function, weight management, digestion, joint and muscle functioning, whilst supporting the prevention of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, metabolic disease and diabetes.
Equally as important is the benefit of movement upon our mental wellbeing. Movement influences our mood, thoughts, feelings and impacts the inner workings of our brain. It can even be thought of as a meditation in motion. When we move our bodies, for example during mindful movement practices such as Pilates or yoga, we are wholly focusing our minds and our bodies on the movements we’re engaging in and our breath work. We are empowering ourselves with increased energy, strength and vitality, whilst encouraging blood and oxygen to flow around the body and to our brains. This creates those feel-good hormones known as endorphins, leading to increased happiness and decreased stress, tension and anxiety.
The world of movement and exercise can often revolve around aesthetics and weight loss, which can lead to feelings of fear, apprehension and judgement. However, we must remind ourselves that we are all unique; we have different lives, careers, backgrounds, genetics, heritages, bodies and minds, and what works for one person may not work for another. In the same instance, one persons goals or reasons for their choice of movement may be different to those of another person and these should not be compared or competed against. Whatever exercise you do, remember to do it for you - listen to your body, be perceptive of how it makes you feel and most importantly, enjoy it.