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The Move Daily Pillars of Health

Oct 16, 2018

Back in my college years I remember a professor asking the class: “Who here is healthy? Raise your hand.” It was a great question, and although many students raised their hand, most did so with hesitation: “I think I’m healthy?” was the overwhelming sentiment of the half-cocked arms in the room.

As defined by the dictionary, health is the state of being free from illness or injury.  Humans are a collection of systems and energy that affect one another in various ways: much like a symphony orchestra in which each individual musician & instrument affects the outcome of the whole. 

Many Move Daily clients have sought out help with a particular goal- pain management, weight-loss, low energy, sports performance, etc. – and the solution is very rarely to address just one aspect of daily life.  As such, when looking to improve a specific opportunity, the process must consider all of the pillars of health & how the “orchestra” is working together (or not). 

While Movement and Nutrition get most of the attention in the health and fitness community, we’ll touch on the main principles of each of the Pillars and why long-term solutions to health extend beyond the nutrients you consume and the exercise you get.

Self: Love, Purpose, & Energy

“You cannot truly be selfless without first being selfish”

Health starts and ends with your sense of Self. In layman’s terms: You are no good to anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.  A lack of self- and ensuing self-care- tends to be an area of opportunity for many: When you are constantly prioritizing the needs of others or other tasks above your own, health gradually declines and it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on one’s own goals. Retaining a sense of Self within the context of your environment is quite often the rate-limiting step before things like movement and nutrition can be true priorities.

Does each day start with taking care of you or are you putting on everyone else’s life jackets first?

The concept of Self also involves love: something absolutely essential to overall health despite those who find it too “new age” to believe. Research has shown that simply having a loved one nearby reduces symptoms in chronic pain patients and aids early stages of recovery from surgery. 

When it comes to “Self”, basing daily decisions on love – for oneself and others- is fulfilling on a deep level and encourages healthier behaviours. Basing decisions on fear, anger, or punishment breeds anxiety and creates problems and resentment. We can be our own worst critics but none of our failures, real or perceived, should place conditions on love.

Do you move, eat, take time, and act out of love for yourself or punishment?

Further to a sense of Self is a sense of purpose. What is your “Why?” in life & in health? Having a purpose has been shown to increase longevity: Who wouldn’t want to get up each day feeling like they have a driving force and vision to work towards? A purpose gives meaningful direction to daily actions and helps to prevent us from making decisions that can ultimately create chaos, sabotage, and emotional dissonance within our lives.

Do you have a purpose or “Why?” behind your goals and daily drive? 

All told, if you’re taking care of yourself before helping others, and if you’re loving (yourself) unconditionally and living with purpose, the cascade into overall health is immeasurable. So where does energy fit? In truth, everywhere. Caring for yourself and saying “no” when needed maintains personal energy for every important “yes”; loving yourself conserves energy while fear drains it; purpose gives you the energy to get through the sticking points.

Take daily notes of the things that drain you and equally of the things that “fill your cup” 

“As a doctor, let me tell you what self-love does: it improves your hearing, your eyesight, lowers your blood pressure, increases pulmonary function, cardiac output, and helps wire musculature…this isn’t just some frou-frou new age notion. This is hardcore science.”

– Dr. Christiane Northrop

Movement: Exercise, Ambulation & Play

The human body was designed for daily movement. The old adage “Use it or lose it” doesn’t apply to many things, but it certainly does apply when dealing with the health of the human brain and body.

From birth, we move as much as possible until our constant failures result in rolling over, crawling, standing, walking and so on. This is when the potential for independent life truly begins. Much of health from this point on stems from the daily quality and quantity of movement we get. At Move Daily, we look closely at 3 groups of movement:

  • Exercise (weight lifting & structured cardio)

  • Ambulation (walking)

  • Play (sports, games and general silliness)

It is well known that humans in recent history lived with ambulation, play, and hard labour as their main forms of daily movement. Most people now focus on incorporating exercise as a replacement for all three. In today’s society we have outsourced much of our daily movement, turning walking into driving, hard labour into sitting and active play into seated play (screens).

 Is your movement dose limited to the time spent exercising in a gym?

 While most people are acutely aware of the benefits of exercise, strenuous exercise is inaccurately pitched as a cure-all for health and weight-loss. Strength training is certainly important, but most people can experience greater improvements in health simply by getting outside and having some fun built into their day.

 When was the last time you went out and played, walked for the sake of walking, or moved without a structured plan?

 Here at Move Daily we focus not only on the quantity of movement, but put a great emphasis on both movement quality and prescribing the appropriate movements for each individual client.

“The only way the journey ends is if you stop moving.”

― Toni Sorenson

Stillness: Sleep, Recovery & Mindfulness

“You can only train as hard as you can recover”

Recovery & Stillness have equal value to conscious movement. With so much energy devoted to exercise and movement, it is easy to forget about counterbalancing with stillness (not to be confused with mindless screen time).  Ironically, this lack of intentional stillness can erase the benefits of increased movement. It is quite common for people to embark on intense exercise plans only to find themselves even more burnt out, low-energy and inflamed than when they were inactive. Mindful stillness is a key piece of the puzzle for everyone, from performance clients to those seeking weight-loss.

Stillness can come in many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Sleep

  • Breath work

  • Soft Tissue & Stretching

  • Meditation or Mindfulness Practice

  • Body-care (massage, bathing, stretching, etc.)

When was the last time you scheduled in even just 10 minutes to be still?

Sleep is one of the most important drivers of health, and without adequate sleep, everything will suffer from metabolism to mood to performance and much more. Sleep hygiene- what you do in the hour or two before bed- is also extremely important. Bright lights, screens, food, exercise and many other kinds of stimulation can affect not only how fast you fall asleep, but how deep you sleep throughout the night. Stillness is important, and restful sleep is king of recovery.

Do you prepare your body to sleep? Or are you on the go until your head hits the pillow?

Mindfulness is a huge buzzword, but for health, the concept is sound. Humans are creatures of habit and many people float through their days without truly engaging in much conscious behaviour. We tend to make mindless knee-jerk reactions when it comes to anything regarding pleasure: food, drinks, screens (phones, games, TV, etc.) Engaging in mindful practices keeps you acutely aware of what’s happening to your body and within your body. Without taking time to slow life down and own stillness, life will very often slow things down for you (illness, injury, etc.)

Do rest and stillness happen when life stops you, or do you consciously plan them in? 

The central nervous system requires time to counterbalance the stressors of daily life, so if you find yourself adding more and more movement without improving results, it might be time to add in some mindful stillness to your plan.

“When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.”

– Eckhart Tolle

Read the full blog here!