Like Children Do

I have of late focused on the mental aspects of fitness, as I feel one’s psychological approach to health and fitness is as important as the physical. Having said that, as much as good mental health and determined focus is good for you, what really aids and reinforces the mind-body connection is movement, namely exercise. Not only is exercise good for you, it is necessary for optimal body health.
The mind and body are remarkable tools. You can learn a skill as a teenager and twenty years later, having not practised said skill in the intervening years, still execute the skill. It might be rusty, but your mind and body remember how to do it. Think about how many skills and movements you have learned over the years, from walking and running to the fine motor skills of using cutlery to the automation of driving, these are all things you once had to give all your focus to and master that are now so ingrained and natural that you probably do not remember learning them.
Exercise and the body mechanics are slightly different. Not so much with the recalling of a skill, more the ability to execute. The body, in keeping with the nature of the human animal, is practically lazy. What that means is if you adopt an unusual skill or do something that requires an unorthodox approach, your body and mind will, with practice, learn the skill. Your mind will always recall how to do whatever it is you have learned, the body, however, not necessarily so. The body forgets how to do things, not completely, but it loses the feel for infrequently used motions.
Have you ever seen a small child warm up before running and playing? Probably not, not unless they are being directed to do so by an adult. As a small child, movement was so innate, free and natural, that you just did it. No thoughts of pulling a muscle, twisting an ankle or overexertion, you would just be off running and jumping. The body was so used to moving constantly, it never questioned itself. It just moved.
As you grow older and the wild abandon of childhood is left behind, the body spends increasing amounts of time inert; sitting, standing, watching and not doing. The body gets accustomed to not moving. The body adapts to not moving so much. That is why you find that if, after years of sitting behind a desk and sitting in cars or on public transport, you have to make a sudden dash for a bus or a train, your body is thrown into shock, no longer familiar with the constant movement of a childhood long past.
There are one hundred and sixty-eight hours in a week, work and commuting take up, on average around fifty hours. Sleep will account for between forty-two and fifty-six hours, eating and chilling – television, social media – maybe ten to fifteen hours. Actual socialising and meeting people – friends, family – perhaps six hours. That leaves over thirty hours in which to squeeze in some exercise.
Having worked in a gym for many years now, I have lost count of the amount of times I have been asked if training three times a week is enough or if training everyday is too much. Three to Seven hours a week of training or movement out of one hundred and sixty-eight is very little. There is a misconception about training or overtraining. It is possible to overtrain, though generally it is more related to cardio than strength training. It is also affected by nutrition and rest, the absence of either taxing on the body. The body needs to train and move, but it also needs to rest.
As adults it is difficult, unless it is part of your job, to move as much as one would like or as much as when we were children. Not that all movement has to be gym based, dancing around your kitchen is movement. A walk after dinner is moving, running upstairs gets you active. Remember that inner child and get moving.

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