In last week’s post I mentioned the Blue Zones and how lifestyle corresponds with longevity. If you don’t happen to be born into a Blue Zone, you may have to be a bit more conscientious in creating the circumstances that allow you to thrive. This is especially true when it comes to exercise.
For something so seemingly straightforward, exercise has become very complex. As someone who creates workouts for a living, I am about to state something of a sacrilege among personal trainers: it’s not about the workout. Before you close out this window and head for the couch, let me explain.
In the Blue Zones people tend to be active. Not “bust out an hour in the gym then sit for eight at a desk” active. They move about most of the day. Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (acronym N.E.A.T.) is the energy expended for everything that we do that is not sleeping. And it has a greater impact on overall health than any one workout could.
So why then should we potentially shell out x amount of dollars for a gym membership? Athletes train to move with more ease and grace in their sport. Dancers train to move with more ease and grace on the stage. Gym-goers can train to move with more ease and grace in their lives.
All that strengthening and stretching in the gym can make locomotion outside of the gym more enjoyable. Taking an hour or so to bring awareness to the body and hone skills like alignment, balance, and agility can serve to inspire more activity overall.
When one has the confidence of moving skillfully, more movement happens naturally. And it keeps on happening, all the way into old age. At least that’s how it seems to work for those in the Blue Zones. And with its plethora of benefits and virtually no downside (aside from maybe tired legs….) why not move more?
What N.E.A.T. consists of will be different for everyone. The beauty of this way of thinking about exercise is that it is available to everyone, regardless of skill set or limitations. No kipping pull ups required.
So next time you are in the gym struggling with a single leg deadlift and wondering if it’s all for naught, remember your workout is only a practice. It’s the rest of life that counts.
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