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Accidental Athleticism

The average standard of fitness across the population is at an all time low.

And this is despite many people's best efforts

I believe we can attribute this to a couple of reasons:

1: The over stimulation of the stress response, ie chronic stress / sympathetic arousal

2: Lack of "Non Exercise Physical Activity" or NEPA

NEPA is the simplest to deal with. Even if you go to the gym, that's an hour or so of acute exercise. Which is good. But what about the other 23 hours? What about the days you don't go training?

This is what we're losing.

As jobs get less physical Manual tasks become more automated The need to walk is lessened

We are moving on average less and less.

Unless we CHOOSE to move.

Search this blog and you'll find many times I've advocated for movement breaks to be taken over the course of the day. Get up from your desk as often as your buddy who smokes gets up from his. But instead of going out for a drag, do some movement. Any movement Walk, jog up and down the fire escape, do push ups, stretch, do some isometrics, whatever. Return to your desk the same time your mate does.

But what about that chronic stress?

There are a few ways to deal with this.

You can utilise exhale focussed breathing, where the exhale is at least double the inhale, it may be box breathing, buteyko breathing, it maybe a 3 count in, 7 count out. All of which damp down the sympathetic response. It might be unfocussing the gaze, going "panoramic" and using the peripheral vision. This signals to the brain that we are safe and brings down the sympathetic tone, ie arousal. Put these together and go to a window, or better yet, get outside into some daylight and walk about, breath in for 3 paces, breath out for 7 paces (or as close as you can manage). Now you're gently moving, relaxing the vision and breathing with exhale dominance, you'll be as chilled as a sleeping baby by the time you get back to your desk! The alternative is to use your movement break. Massively hype up that arousal, that sympathetic state by hard exercise. That could be a lunchtime workout, it could be sprinting up the fire escape steps, it could be 100 Burpees, whatever. But by acutely stressing the nervous system it will usually respond by kicking over into the rest state, the parasympathetic state.

Now you're not only helping your stress levels but you're developing athleticism. That's a win-win.

All this is simple. It may not be easy, but it is simple.

But it only works if you do


Dave Hedges

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