Perpetual Motion: Why Constant Movement is the Key to Health & Longevity

Exercise is the darling of the fitness industry. Because of its rise in popularity, exercise has helped the fitness industry become a many multi-billion dollar giant. And for good reason.

Exercise has been proven to help with so many different aspects of health. For instance, in recent studies, exercising was shown to have similar benefits as anti-depressants in people with depression-like symptoms. Also, exercise alone has been proven to regulate blood sugar, cholesterol and hypertension without any other diet or lifestyle changes.

So, it’s clear that the benefits of exercise are far reaching. However, as the young science of health and fitness continues to move and evolve, there is another aspect of movement that has been overlooked for the sake of 6-pack abs and chiseled shoulders. Oh, and it’s free.

But before we get into that, let’s learn a little more about what it means to be human.

The Swiss Army Knife of the Movement and Performance

I’ve written a number of articles on what it means to be a modern human in a not-so-modern human body. Our bodies are an amazing thing. They can repair themselves when injured. They can heal themselves when sick. They can adapt and make you stronger when put under the right amount of pressure. However, when it comes to movement and performance, our bodies aren’t particularly good at anything. Let me explain.

If you look at the animal kingdom, there are many different species that are capable of world-class performances when it comes to athletic abilities. For instance, the slowest of leopards can run about 36 MPH. Pretty insane if you ask me. Usain Bolt, on the other hand, tops out at 27 MPH.

The fastest flying bird, the Peregrine Falcon, can charge through the air at 240 MPH! Humans will never be able to fly on their own…ever (I rarely say that something will never be done. However, in this instance, it’s simply mechanically impossible). How about monkeys? They can climb trees and swing from vines. Humans have the ability to climb trees, but certainly not at the height or magnitude of the clumsiest of monkeys.

Okay, so some of these examples are extreme. But the point is, for every athletic ability that a human possesses, there is an animal that will far outperform us…typically with ease.

However, what humans have that no other animal has is diversity. That’s why I like to call humans the Swiss Army Knives of movement. We may not be particularly good at one specific ability. BUT, we are pretty darn adept at just about any type of movement (except, of course, flying).

We can run long distances, short distances, jump, hop, climb, roll, crawl, tumble, flip, cartwheel, throw and bound. That’s more than the most prestigious lion, tiger, or bear can do.

Why Our Current Lifestyle Goes Against Our Natural Tendencies

So, being human isn’t all that bad. Unless, of course, you live the in 21stcentury. Which, if my memory serves me correctly, we all do

Let’s play a little game real quick. Look over the last paragraph in the previous section again. The paragraph that lists all the abilities of a human. As you look over the list of abilities, make a mental note of when the last you purposefully perform that ability was.

When’s the last time you sprinted?

When’s the last time you rolled around?

When’s the last time you did a cartwheel?

When’s the last time you even got on the ground?

If you’re part of The Pack, you should be able to check many of these things off (and possibly more to come). However, if you don’t follow a structured training routine and force yourself outside of your normal movement comfort zone every once and a while, it’s unlikely that you’ve crawled for a long time.

I know what you’re thinking…”But, Jerry, why on Earth should I crawl or cartwheel or climb when I have a watch that will do all of that for me?”. Which is a great question, BTW. You see, the reason that I covered all of the abilities that humans are capable of and made the distinction that we are the Swiss Army Knives of movement is because our bodies are built to move.

And yet, in the world we live in today, more and more gadgets are being invented to make our lives “easier” so we don’t have to move as much. The TV remote comes to mind as the most basic example of an invention that took us yet another step down the movement ladder. The TV remote was only invented about — years ago. And yet, not a single person could even imagine living life without their remote control.

Changing From Sedentary to Perpetual

Understandably, it’s easy to get caught up in the world of new gizmos. After all, who doesn’t want to have the newest iGadget like everybody else? However, that’s the default setting. The default is to follow the crowd and be like everybody else. But everybody else is overweight, obese and 5 different medications. So why do you want to be in that same scenario?

Instead of choosing the default settings like everybody else, decide to become a perpetual motion machine. I stole this idea from Brian Johnson of (if you don’t subscribe, I strongly suggest you do). For Brian, becoming a perpetual motion machine means purposefully putting movement throughout your day instead of staying still for long periods of time. This type of movement, which is not classified as exercise, is called NEAT. NEAT is an acronym that stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Basically, NEAT is the energy that you burn from movement that is non-exercise related.

For instance, doing the laundry is NEAT because you have to put the clothes in the washer, then the dryer, then fold them and put them away. That requires energy, but is not technically exercise. Cutting the grass, gardening, and doing the dishes would also fit into the NEAT category.

However, most people struggle with movement during the work day. This is when you’re most likely sitting the most. So this is where you want to strive to improve your NEAT. And the best way to do that is with tomatoes.

Using The Pomodoro Technique for Better Health

Francesco Cirillowasa guy who wanted to get things done. And he noticed that, after a certain amount of time, his energy tended to wane. So, to help stave off this slowing energy, he created what is now known as the Pomodoro Technique. Basically, he used a tomato-shaped timer (which is where the name Pomodoro comes from) that is set for 25 minutes. When the timer went off, Francesco got up to help reset his attention and reboot his energy.

You can use this same technique at work to help get more NEAT in your life. Although, you don’t necessarily need to have a tomato-shaped timer for this to be effective. You can just as easily utilize the timer on your watch or computer (notice I don’t say to use the timer on your phone. Phone timers are bad because, when they go off, you pick up your phone and start wasting time).

To use the Pomodoro Technique best, set your timer for about 25 minutes. It can be more. It can be less. I set mine for 1200 seconds (that’s 20 minutes for anybody who doesn’t have their phone calculator handy). When the timer goes off, get up and move. It doesn’t matter what you do. It doesn’t matter how you do it. What matters is that you’re not sitting looking at the computer or looking at your phone or doing paperwork. Get up and move for 3 to 5 minutes.

When you sit back down, reset the timer and do it all over again. It seems inefficient, I know. However, I challenge you to try it for the rest of this week and see how much your productivity goes up, your energy improve, and your body feels better, all from some simple, low-level movement.

Remember, don’t choose the default settings like the rest of the world. One of my favorite quotes comes from an Olympic cyclist: “You either you exist by default or live with intention”. Luckily, it’s your choice.

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