As the world around us gets busier than ever, we tend to age less gracefully in many ways. Accustomed to living indoors, we lead sedentary lives. Growing old becomes something we dread, as we anticipate struggling to get out of bed and down the stairs.
But old age doesn’t have to be about aches and pains or slips and falls. Whatever your current age, you can start making an investment in your body and experience a better quality of life in your final chapter. The key is finding something you can sustain and insert into a modern lifestyle.
The indoor trend
For many people, modern living has increasingly meant spending most of their days indoors. No matter how you divide your hours between work, rest, and recreation, most of those activities occur inside a building of some sort.
This sort of lifestyle places your health at the mercy of various factors in the indoor environment. Some, such as air quality, can be regulated or even improved. Duct cleaning and air purifiers amid a polluted city, for instance, can prove beneficial.
But more often, staying indoors is an overall impediment to health. It limits our exposure to daylight and green spaces, which help to promote well-being. And it restricts our range of movement and activity.
Studies of injury patterns across indoor and outdoor environments also reflect these differences. Consistently, outdoor injuries tend to occur in people who are younger and highly active. They are the inevitable result of a demographic that’s empowered to take risks and pursue challenging physical activities.
On the other hand, indoor injuries tend to be incurred along mundane ambulatory activities, such as walking or going up and down the stairs. The likelihood of such injury also scales with age. And it’s linked with factors such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, or other chronic ailments.
Another trend that we need to consider as we age in the modern world is that of metabolism. We don’t need scientific research to tell us that our bodies lose strength and mobility as we grow old. But along with that deterioration comes a gradual slowing down of metabolic rates.
Once we’re past our 20s, overall metabolic activity begins to taper off by about 10% with each decade. An average fifty-year-old would have a 30% lower metabolism than they probably had in the prime of youth.
But what is metabolism? In simple terms, it’s the body’s energy efficiency. A slow metabolism means that your body has become better at maintaining itself. You don’t need as much energy input in order to continue functioning.
That sounds like a good thing, and it is when you consider the circumstances under which humans evolved. Our bodies were designed to survive scarcity. Older individuals tend to be inferior to hunters and providers. Having a low metabolic rate would have helped our ancestors live longer on less.
Yet, with the affluence and convenience afforded to us by modern living, metabolic slowdown has become a health risk. We tend to consume more calories than strictly needed for bodily upkeep, and our physical activity levels are often lower than recommended for healthy adults.
As we’ve seen, our contemporary lifestyles tend to combine two trends that harm health and fitness. We spend more time indoors than out, which compromises our movement. And without guidance or encouragement, we often let our diets and activity levels slide, thereby failing to offset the natural decrease in metabolism associated with age.
The fitness movement known as MovNat offers a way for anyone of any age or background to escape that trap. Unlike other programs, it doesn’t focus on superficial goals such as sculpting a beach body or hitting personal records on the bench press. There is no rush to achieve drastic weight loss, which can tempt many to push themselves too hard in CrossFit or try out fad diets.
Instead, MovNat focuses on its namesake natural movements. These are both functional and greater in variety than what we all get accustomed to. Most days, our range of motion is minimal. We stand, sit, walk, and occasionally take the stairs or bend to pick up objects.
Yet our bodies evolved to perform far more complex movements. They include crawling, rolling, balancing, hoisting loads overhead, throwing and catching objects, jumping onto platforms, and hanging from bars.
MovNat reconnects your body with those actions. It encourages you to make the most of the outdoors and enjoy various movements without forcing you into a high-pressure program that burns out your motivation.
And it’s something that can be easily slotted into a busy daily routine. Some exercises can be done at home, even in your backyard. Start practicing now, and your fitness investment will pay dividends over the years.