With all the fitness centers dotting the landscape of our cities, it’s easy to think that America is the fittest and healthiest it’s ever been.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Obesity is at an all-time high. Cancer is up. Heart disease and diabetes are way up. Hip and joint replacements are exploding. Thank God we have the technology to provide relief to people who are suffering with joint pain, but I have to ask: how did we get here?
Move Right 1962
I want to take a trip back down Memory Lane to 1962, so we can see how we used to be as a nation.
Watch this short video:
Could you do those moves today? Those were public high school students.
What’s the difference?
At that time, children were raised up in a culture of health and fitness. Their parents were groomed to serve in the rigors of the military, and outdoor play was the norm, not the exception.
But then we got away from it. We saw a generation raised in front of the television. Physical education and playground time have been gradually phasing out from many schools. We saw a massive proliferation of sugar and sweeteners in the food supply, and the marketing targeted at children.
Prevention Before Correction
It’s easier to train up a child in right habits than to fix bad habits in adults. So much of what we see in America’s health care industry is repairing the damage done to our bodies by bad habits we developed as children. The pharmaceutical industry is a trillion-dollar operation because two generations of people have mis-nourished their bodies to the point of fostering disease.
Here at Fundamental Health Solutions, we’ve been sounding the alarm for many years about the dangers of the sedentary American lifestyle. If we can see how far backwards we’ve gone, our hope is that people will see the need to change course and take corrective action.
The Opposite Extreme
At the opposite extreme is body sculpting, where people focus on building certain muscle groups disproportionately. You see guys in the gym day after day, chiseling out perfect biceps, pectorals, and abs. What purpose does that serve? What physical benefit do they derive from it? Honestly, I’ve rehabilitated enough spines or cores that were damaged by over-training to sour on the whole body-sculpting industry.
This Is Not Where We Came From
Let’s look back two hundred years, two thousand years, or even five thousand years. Were they using Nautilus gym equipment? Were they buying Bowflex machines? No, of course not. You could make the case that the fact we have that equipment and they didn’t is proof that we have developed as a species. However, you have to look at the fruit. Humans had the physical capability to build the pyramids by hand without workout centers. Could we do that today?
If you have been resistant to going to the gym, and you have one of those “gym rats” in your life that is always pressuring you to get into a gym, you might not be wrong. You might be picking up on one of the fundamental problems with the gym industry: they are focusing on many of the wrong movements in pursuit of some wrong goals.
Now, I’m grateful to groups like the CrossFit people for bringing proper movement back into the mainstream, but it is missing from too much of our culture. Every time I hear one of my friends talking about their new CrossFit program, half the room groans and ducks out. People don’t want to be confronted with a workout that hard.
Are we really more advanced than our ancestors?
The Wrong Solution
Many of the patients who come to see me for the first time are working to correct something in their physical structure. How do they know something is wrong? They are experiencing pain or stiffness in at least one area of their bodies.
How did they get there?
Often times, it is because they have tried to apply a fitness solution to a rehab problem (or NO solution to a rehab problem). Fitness is not a catch-all solution or panacea. Again, I’m glad people are moving, but is it the right movement for what they need?
If your food diet is deficient in magnesium or Vitamin C, you can usually tell pretty quickly. There are symptoms that serve as red-flags for different nutritional deficiencies. Guess what? Your posture and movement are full of red flags that clue me in to deficiencies in your movement diet.
I developed my “Move Right Monday” video seriesas a type of “supplement” to fill in the gaps in your movement diet. I just recently finished a series of videos called “The 7 Fundamental Movements Every Human Must Be Able To Do.” You should be able to do them all without pain or stiffness, and if you can’t, then you know you need to focus in that area. Just like your multivitamin comes with a basic portfolio of nutrients that everyone needs for baseline function, these movements are for everyone.
Specific Movement Supplements
Now, of course, there are going to be certain types of movements that your body needs more of, and the evidence will show up in your mobility, stability, or motor control. That’s why it is important to get with a coach who can do a movement screen to identify areas of weakness or imbalance and prescribe a set of movements to correct them. Some movements correct two areas at the same time.
I have people who turn their noses up at these movements because they don’t fit the modern American mentality of laboring into a hard sweat at the gym or “hoofing it” around the neighborhood for an hour every day, but it reveals a major misconception about fitness that I want to shout from the mountaintops. The idea of going to the gym to build up huge muscles without thinking about the consequences to my movement is old thinking.
Actually, if you think about it, it’s really “modern thinking” that has forgotten how our bodies were originally designed to work. Our ancestors didn’t do that. Even our recent ancestors (parents and grandparents) in the 1930s and 1940s weren’t doing body sculpting (that’s a 1950s – 1990s development that has gotten us away from our best wellness). They were doing calisthenics to develop a higher quality of movement.
Have you ever watched the original Superman TV show from the 1950s? George Reeves didn’t look like today’s Superman at all! Today’s Superman is a machine-ripped statue. The old Superman wasn’t chiseled that way because nobody back then had a vision of the human physique like we have today. They believed in cultivating a body that was strong and flexible.
Get Back To “Beautiful Strength
One of my fitness mentors, Gregg Cook of Deep Health Evolution talks about “kailos stenos,” the Greek expression for “beautiful strength.” It’s movement the way our bodies were designed to move.
We have moved from an emphasis on quality of movement and fitness to a sedentary extreme on one end and a sculpted extreme on the other.
We’ve gotten away from our fundamentals, and then we are trying to build muscle on top of that. The result is the most hip replacements, the most joint replacements, the most surgeries, and the poorest function we’ve ever had.
Healthy Body, Healthy Brain
Now let’s take it one step further. Movement isn’t just good for your limbs, your core, or your spine; it’s great for your brain. In fact, there is a ton of research coming out about the benefits of walking, gardening, and even dancingfor protecting your brain from the effects of dementia. Not only does healthy movement promote the release of endorphins (which are great for your brain), it stimulates the growth of healthy brain cells.
Let’s get back to a culture of health and fitness, instead of this culture with fitness centers on one extreme and couch potatoes on the other. Join me Mondays for our “Move Right Monday” video series and start incorporating those movements into your daily life. You don’t need a gym membership (you don’t really even have to change into workout clothes). Be sure to like our Facebook page to get more positive messages about our culture of “Move Right, Eat Right, Think Right, Live Right.”
A Personal Invitation
I also want to invite you to join me tomorrow night at 6:15 p.m. for a deeper dive into the power of healthy movement for your brain and your body. It’s part of our monthly “Fundamental Foods and Friends Dinners.” Each month we have more people, so you want to RSVP on my Facebook page right away to hold a seat. The more popular they get, the less space we have left. A lot of our people have made friends as they have been learning. And, of course, the food is amazing. Bring a healthy dish to share of $10 cash.
“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.”— Eric Thomas