In the last few blog posts I have introduced the concept of flow and how being in the flow is the optimal state we can be in. I introduced the concept of inner flow and physiologic flow and how to support our physiologic flow through nutrition and creative visualization. Today I’d like to discuss movement flow. What do I mean by this?
The human body is a miracle of engineering. If you examine your musculoskeletal system you will see that your bones, muscles, ligaments and joints are all interconnected and designed for optimal movement. In fact, not long ago, there was a time when our survival was intricately dependent on our ability to move through our natural environment to hunt animals for food, to forage for wild edibles for food and medicine and to evade predators.
As we passed from the hunter-gatherer age to the agricultural age to the industrial age to the information and technological age we have become less and less dependent on movement to meet our basic needs. We now have lives of convenience where everything that we need can be delivered to us with a few keystrokes and the click of a mouse.
Most people have sedentary jobs where they are stationary at a desk or a computer for the greater part of the day and most people get around in motor vehicles or public transit which also involve immobility. In fact, to get any movement at all, we have to carve time out of our weekly schedule whether it is playing a sport, working out at the gym or even just going for a walk.
The consequences of our modern sedentary lifestyles are the obesity and chronic disease epidemic which has devastated much of the world and burdened our healthcare systems. But the importance of movement is not just for optimizing our health. We must be engaged in movement because this is an integral aspect of getting into the flow through our bodies.
Even if you are chained to a desk or cubicle in your daily work there are many ways that you can incorporate movement into your life. At work you should stretch or go for a short walk almost every hour. You should also incorporate a brisk walk during your breaks and lunch hour. You should try to use the stairs instead of the elevator and park in the furthest spot possible so you are forced to walk more.
In your spare time you should engage in some sort of movement practice. This could be a formal practice such as working out at the gym, practicing a martial art, tai chi or yoga. This could also be playing your favourite sport with your friends several times per week. It could also involve just going for a brisk walk for 20 minutes every other day.
Now the excuse that most people make is that they do not have the time to engage in a movement practice. What I say to these people is to start out doing the bare minimum possible. For example, if you do not have the time to go for a brisk walk 20 minutes every other day then just start out with 10 minutes every other day.
If you want to start a formal workout and don’t think you have the time then I recommend the following. Schedule your workouts on Wednesday morning, Friday evening and on Sunday and for only 30 minutes to start out. The reason I recommend this is because most people work Monday to Friday. It is easy to exercise Friday evening because most people do not have to go to work the next day and Sunday is already a day off for most. This means that you only have to get up early one day of the week, Wednesday, to get the bare minimum exercise for the week and the only time you need to spend is 90 minutes total.
Now over time, as you start to see the benefits of regular exercise, you’ll likely want to increase the time you spend exercising but I’m just recommending the bare minimum to get you started and create some momentum in your routine. It is not important what you do but that you engage in some sort of formal movement practice on a regular basis even if it is a minimal amount to start out with.
You cannot fully be in the flow if your have not engaged your physical body which is why regular movement is an essential part of your flow practice. As you come to the end of this article make a commitment to yourself to find time in your regular routine to participate in some sort of movement practice and you will reap the rewards for years to come.
Nauman Naeem MD