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'Exercise' -- is it worth the effort? Discovering Anti-Exercising and G-forces

I do a lot of --what you may call -- 'exercise'.

I began to consciously do it because my life was stymied by arthritis, and for years I have been relentless in pursuit of an 'exercise program' that ticks all the right boxes...for me.

The irony is that after all this time and effort I now hardly 'exercise' at all.

Let's  consider that, shall we?

Hardly at all?

Well, I do 8 minutes of 'exercise' every second day -- leastways when I remember or feel up to it (given my often delicate condition).

That's it. I do  High Intensity Interval Training , inspired and based on Chris Highcock's HillFit.
Chris has sent me a copy of the new edition of his book and I'll get around to reviewing it soon enough , but for now I gotta say that the principles of Hillfittery have changed my life.
Interval training. Short. Sharp. Intense. Injury free. The research studies are in (check out the references in HillFit). You want to 'exercise' then  HIIT is where it's at. No gym fees. No special equipment. No long hours building up a sweat. HIIT is all you need to log up any number of great consequences.

Nothing I have ever done has had as much direct beneficial consequences as a conscious investment in HIIT.

8 minutes. Eight short minutes. That's roughly 24 minutes per week.

Not Exercising:Exercise isn't what you think it is.

Of course I do other stuff -- stuff  you'd call exercise. I kickbike/scoot hither and yon. I walk the dogs. I dance. I paddle a canoe. When I started doing these things I called them 'exercise' too but I don't any more because I do them  for the enjoyment of doing them.

I don't have to. But I want to.

What I have done was engineer my life so that these pursuits became an essential part of my activities of daily living. I found pleasures in the exertion. Excuses to do them other than the supposed need to exercise.

Of course it is 'healthier' for me to do this stuff than not to, but there isn't a direct physiological relationship in the way that 'exercise' supposedly registers on the body. Indeed, exercising like this isn't all what it is cracked up to be.

That's the truth. You could spend hours walking or dancing or whatever but not notch up the same impacts as a succession of HIIT sessions. If you don't believe me, follow a HIIT program such as Hillfit.

Nonetheless, kickbiking  has remade my glutes -- I'm taught and terrific -- and dancing has taught me to master my pelvis and given me leg dexterity and greater balance. I can scoot long distances and probably dance for hours... (Come to think of it, that's indeed what I do do each week!) But then I love doing this stuff. For me it aint exercise.

So that's my first point. Exercise isn't what you think it is. Exercise is very conscious. Planned...probably very painful...and always exhausting. Fortunately it can be of a short duration.

Anti-Exercising = Anti-Gravity

This brings me to the conundrum that I have been dealing with of late. I've been asking myself:If I have been investing all this effort into 'exercising' why do I register so few health benefits?

Surely that's why you do it, right? You want to live forever or look like Adonis. (Or in my case, live with less pain and stiffness and be more mobile day to day).

This is why folk sign up to the gym or buy a pair of running shoes.

But this approach obscures what is a fatal flaw. If you are 'exercising' for 25 minutes per week or every second day or an hour a day or whatever...what are you doing the rest of your time?

This came home to me sharply during this last Summer when the heat and humidity really bore down on my body and I was less active and often bed ridden. Very quickly I put on weight and loss some muscle mass. I was still doing stuff -- but I was doing less because I was so unwell. But just because I was doing -- a little -- less  my body paid a hefty price.

Why? Hadn't I paid my dues? Didn't I have  reserves in my somatic bank to draw on? Why is life so unfair?

So in addressing this conundrum I started to explore time management and activity theories like Pomodoro Technique and N.E.A.T.--Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

While both concepts are useful and make a lot of sense I thought they required a level of obsessiveness I did not possess. Indeed, both approaches asked you to micro manage your life.

I read the books. Did the Googling. Guinea pigged myself. And came away thinking, "I can't do this. I can adapt some of it but the whole shebang is far too demanding."

I  couldn't get a handle on a DIY.

Then I read Sitting Kills - Moving Heals by NASA scientist, Joan Vernikos.


..and it clicked! Maybe not the best written book on planet earth but the relentless message is challenging. Day to day my challenge -- our challenge -- is to stand up to gravity.

When I stand; when I lift weights or jump; when I get out of bed in the morning or dance or bounce up and down on a scooter -- I'm pushing hard against gravity.

...but when I sit down at the computer or vege out or sleep I'm pushing a lot less.

Think about it: G forces rule our lives. And it's not so much about being upright or seated or lying down but changing  the location of your body (and its organs, muscles, bones and Proprioceptors) relative to the rest of the universe. It's about standing up and sitting or lying down. It's about jumping or skipping; climbing or descending stairs. It's about lifting not only objects and weights but your own body upwards away from the earth at your feet. 

This may sound almost ethereal but space does not lie. We are moulded by our relationship to gravity. It impacts on our muscles and bones; on our blood pressure and metabolism. It rules our lives.

So when you take that view -- that long long view from the POV of the solar system -- all our activities and all our exercising must relate to the force of gravity. When we 'exercise' we challenge those G forces more than when we don't. 

Think about it. 

If that's the domineering principle -- then what you do or don't do day in/day out is sure to impact on what sort of body you'll age with. What Vernikos argues is that if you consciously and frequently assert yourself against gravity you are going to be conditioning your body, training it up to  work better and undermine any penchant  it has -- you have -- to remain in a state of rest. You also slow down its deterioration.
G  Challenge I: lay down on the floor and get up without using your hands
G Challenge II: (to make you feel better) get out of  chair without using your hands.
So what does that mean day to day? What's the take-away message?

Well, it is not about more exercise is it? Exercise is only a few  focused moments of giving gravity the finger. 

I'm just beginning to think this through but along with elements I already have in place this is my working scenario:
  • Get up frequently when seated. Stand up at least 3o times per day.
  • Sit on an exercise ball . This I already do but the G advantage is that I shift my position in space as I wiggle  my tail.
  • Climb and descend stairs rather than not.
  • Be consciously more active and make things harder to do. Don't get too comfortable.
  • Keep a  sedentary account. If I lay down for any amount of time I need to make up for  the indulgence by being consciously more active the rest of the day. 
  • Try not to sit. (If you do, stand up frequently.) Fidget instead. 
I'm thinking of getting a balance disc and hope to explore ways I can integrate that into my HIIT sessions plus any other uses I can imagine.Maybe I'll start skipping again or go back on a mini trampoline...? I could make either one of my HIIT sessions perhaps?

A Balance Disc and its uses.

What I’ve learned about working out is that you don’t have to keep using heavier and heavier weights, you just have to find a way to make an exercise harder to perform, and Balance Disc does just that. Not only you can incorporate in into your workout, but it is perfect if you have a sitting job. Sitting on the balance disc creates active and dynamic sitting. Place the disc directly onto the chair, this provides a less stable sitting surface, which means that the body has to make continuous small movements to correct balance. These movements strengthen the deep core stability muscles which provide postural support to the body. Make sure to maintain a good posture at all times while sitting on the disc.I use it in my workouts, since the disk creates unstable surface you are engaging more muscle groups.
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