FITNESS AND NATURAL MOVEMENT
Have you ever seen a tiger read a manual on how to hunt? Or a squirrel watch a flying tutorial? That's because animals (excluding humans) have not lost their innate, natural movement capabilities. Millenia of slowly migrating towards an indoor, sedentary lifestyle sadly mean we have. There is a big difference between fitness for the purpose of aesthetics and that of usefulness. My goal is to be physically useful, where the gym is a supplement to my fitness regime but not my full diet.
As with our food, variety is key in fitness. In this instance we want our body's to be the jack of all trades.
The gym is a convenient and additive supplement to a fulfilling fitness regime. Whilst it is a far cry from a "natural" setting it still provides us with the ability to practice "natural" movement, which builds the strength and endurance needed for the "real, natural" world. Whilst the gym has it's purpose, there is nothing more powerful than building strength, agility, balance, endurance and playing in the great outdoors. Green exercise provides benefits beyond just physical fitness; reduces stress, aids creativity and most importantly connects us to nature.
Lily's top fitness tips
1. Walk everyday as far as you can
Our ancestors would cover 6-16km a day. Whilst for many this may not be convenient, even in my hectic city life I walk everywhere, mostly because I hate the London underground but also it is the most natural movement we were built for.
2. Alternate intense physical exercise with rest and relaxation
Our ancestors partook in such varied physical activities from building shelters, carrying heavy loads like food and water and long endurance hunting expeditions. In other words, they were the jack of all trades. Unless you are a professional athlete, mix it up and vary your physical movements. I love short sprints, boxing, heavy weight training, dance, HIIT, power yoga - living in a bustling metropolis offers exciting new fitness options that consistently allow you to push your body. But, our ancestors were not out pumping iron 7 days a week, allowing your body to repair and rebuild is also essential to achieving optimum fitness.
3. Go barefoot or wear natural movement footwear daily (especially during exercise)
Everyday aim to at least step on our Earth (soil, sand, water) - this a super quick and easy way to connect with nature - you are literally grounding yourself. I have classic modern feet that have been molly coddled and subsequently become weak with collapsed arches which basically throws everything off balance in your body. Modern shoes squish our toes and are not conducive to supporting the natural shape of our feet. Find out more from The Foot Collective. Narrow shoes cause so many feet problems leading to knee pain, hip pain, lower back pain - basically a lot of pain! Brands like Vivo Barefoot are a good starting point. I also wear toe spreaders from The Foot Collective to help restore the natural foot shape.
4. Do short, intensive, strenuous workouts each week
I do 3-4 high intensity, short workouts (30-45 minutes each) a week across a variety of different types of exercise.
5. Lift, heavy things
Strength training is imperative to build a solid foundation and base that will prepare you for the most physically demanding life situations, from moving heavy luggage at the airport to potentially life threatening emergency situations. Our bones also require weight to strengthen which can help prevent osteoporosis and general bone weakening as we age.
6. Practice true natural movement
The ultimate natural movements that we should all master is the squat, deadlift, lunge and step-up. The glutes are the largest and by far the most important muscle group. Strong glutes; improve posture, enhance athletic performance and minimise chance of injury. But to pop it and drop it like a squat requires good ankle mobility above all else, and strong ankle arches (this relates to point 3 above on allowing your feet to return to their "natural" form to allow you to be able to squat properly and safely). Check out some guidance from natural movement expert Erwan Le Corre on getting up and getting down in the squat position.
Share all your natural fitness tips and images with us @wildenest using #wilde4theworld :)