We are told that one MUST keep active in order to stay healthy. Activities such as running, swimming and going to the gym are things that one HAS to do, in order to prevent heart disease and obesity.
From the LNTL point of view, one wants to be healthy, in order that one CAN stay active.
Exercise can be boring and repetitive. This is great news for health clubs, as if all their members actually attended the gym they would be too busy and go out of business! Unfortunately it means many people have been put off movement in favour of passive, sedentary experiences.
The Live Now, Thrive Later movement philosophy, is about reconnecting with your body and its natural environment. Human beings have evolved over millions of years performing a wide variety of physical activities in a huge variety of conditions. We are not meant for unstimulating, mundane, sedentary lives, and living in such a way will surely lead to ill health and depression.
Although physical activities may help keep your heart healthy and improve your physique, these are really just side effects – added bonuses if you like. The real joy of movement comes from the love of the activity itself.
The focus of natural movement should not be about “creating a burn”, “beasting yourself”, or “working up a sweat”, though you may occasionally do any of these things inadvertently.
Natural movement is about developing new (or in some cases, re-learning) skills. Strength, endurance, balance and even flexibility are all really dependent upon learning efficient and economically motor patterns. The key to going further, faster, higher or harder is not simply about putting in more effort, but about practice, patience and dedication.
Though natural movement can be about testing your limits, and expanding your comfort zones, it is a personal exploration. It is non-competitive, and the joy comes from the journey itself, not any extrinsic or arbitrary goal or end point.
The following are all natural movements, which I categorised into two fields – Primal or Natural Movements/MovNat, and NeoPrimal movements – Modern activites that can be made Primal through your approach to training and participation.
Erwan Le Corre divides natural movments into three categories:
Locomotives – Moving your own body through space:
Walk wherever, and whenever possible. Walking is possibly the most underrated activity out there. It may not be sexy or exciting, but when it comes to making people happy and healthy it is pretty much unrivalled! Walk up a mountain, or just to the shop, as long as you just get out there and do it. To really get the benefit leave the mobile at home (the same goes for all these activities) and just be in the moment.
Don’t run to get fit, get fit to run! Many argue that we were Born to Run. We were definitely born to move, and running is one of the most accessible and liberating activities on offer.
Effective running is not about pushing yourself harder, but about learning better, more effective technique. You don’t need expensive, fancy running shoes – On the contrary barefoot or thin flat soled minimalist trainers are best.
Run on tarmac, grass and sand, up hills, through rivers and over obstacles. Run fast, run slow, sprint as fast as you can, or go as far as possible. Run with friends, or get some solo time. When you want to stop, just stop!
Though we are poor in comparison to our simian cousins, climbing is one of our oldest Primal skills. Though a powerful grip and upper body can be useful, good climbing is as much if not more about balance, skill, flexibility and agility. Climb rock faces, boulders, trees, buildings, ropes – Anything! Build your strength and confidence by finding an indoor wall close by to home.
Humans have always depended upon the water for survival, with settlements gravitating towards rivers, lakes and coasts. Build confidence and skill in your local pool, practice the Total Immersion technique to develop endurance and efficiency, but then get out into nature and do some exhilarating Wild Swimming!
Jump high, jump far, jump up, jump down, jump over, jump through. Vault, leap, launch yourself into the unknown! Remember though, power is nothing without control. Learn to land safely and softly. Jump with poise balance and control, and remember to look before you leap!
Learn to balance dynamically and statically, on stable and unstable surfaces. Balance on an edge, a branch, a slackline. Balance while running, jumping, lifting and throwing.
Manipulatives – Moving external objects through space:
The wonder of opposable thumps – Though now used mainly for texting, their initial advantage in evolutionary terms was that we could pick up objects and move them. Lift rocks, logs, barbells or kettlebells, no one implement has any great advantage, though variety is great if you have it. Lift heavy, lift light, but remember strength is a skill and always use immaculate technique.
Though I do love traditional weight exercises such as the deadlift and the clean, in reality why would one ever lift something up, only to put it down in exactly the same spot? Pick things up and carry them. Carry big things, small things, heavy thing, awkward things. Carry them far, carry them fast, carry them over obstacles and unusual spaces. Use your imagination – Push things, pull things, drag things and haul things. For convenience and versatility I love my Sandbag!
Unlike other primates, our palms face in, not back. This means we can throw, helping us to become the ultimate hunter in the plains and forests. Throw balls, rocks, sandbags, kettlebells, frizbees – Whatever you can get your hands on! Throw for distance, speed, power and accuracy. Work with a partner and learn to catch.
Combatives – Learning to fight/defend yourself:
Throughout most of our evolution we were regularly faced with the choice of fight or flight. Perhaps we were born to run, but often we would have had to fight for survival, either with predators, or other humans. Whether you do a self defence class, Krav Maga or MMA, learning to defend yourself will help build your confidence and self esteem.
Just because our ancestors did or didn’t do something, doesn’t necessarily mean it is good or bad. There are plenty of modern activities out there that can be highly rewarding, fun, whilst also improving your health, physique, well-being and longevity.
I really wasn’t sure whether to put dancing in this category or the former. Whilst it may not have been essential for survival, hunter-gatherer cultures most certainly featured dancing as a regular movement pattern! Whether you choose a paleo style like traditional African dance, Salsa, break dance, Zumba, or just go out to a gig it doesn’t matter. Just get out there, shake your ass and have fun! (Perhaps from an evolutionary perspective, better dancers are more likely to pass on their DNA via another natural movement…)
You really can’t beat walking, but it’s not always totally practical. Cycling conveys many of the benefits or walking, both physically and mentally, but having the advantage that you can go further and faster. Personally I love my fixie/single speed bikes for their simplicity, and the way they naturally vary the intensity, but really any bike will do.
Feats of strength, acrobatics and circus skills may not be useful, practical or even necessarily good for your health, but they are certainly challenging, rewarding, and good for the soul. Don’t get hung up on the end goal, just enjoy the process and discovering the limits of your own personal performance.
Sports can feature a variety of natural movements, or some very unnatural movements. From a LNTL perspective though, it is less the movements themselves that are so important, more the attitude of the participant. A sport should be played – I.e. done primarily for fun and enjoyment of the sport itself, not for an extrinsic goal such as a prize, status or one-upmanship. Get too focused on the goal of winning or achieving a specific outcome, and you are likely to lose the enjoyment element, start to over train and even risk injury.
To summarise, the key to the Live Now, Thrive Later movement philosophy is to simply get out there and start moving. Explore your environment and find out what you are capable of.