Many people attribute the goal of movement and exercise to specific end games like body shaping, calorie burning or just to increase fitness. All these goals are valid and can bring about joy and health to your life, but none of these encompass the full meaning and benefit of movement.
By separating the idea of movement and achieving set goals, it frees us from the notion that movement should feel or look a specific way. To move is to be alive, and to be alive is to embrace joy and increase vitality. This is what true movement means.
We don’t need to feel ‘less than’ for not being able to achieve the same level of movement as others, and can be proud of the movement that we undertake each day. Movement can and does look different for each one of us and it’s helpful to consciously acknowledge that.
‘Natural movement’ is increasingly popular as a concept and is one example of mindful movement. It focuses on the locomotive and manipulative skills in flexibility, function and strength required for daily activities such as walking, running, balancing, jumping, crawling, climbing, swimming, lifting, carrying, throwing and catching.These core movements are essential for wellbeing, but the proficiency of these skills have been lost over the past decades due to our ever-increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
Natural movement undertaken outside, especially in nature, provides countless benefits. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression and anxiety can be reduced by exercising or moving outdoors because sunshine naturally increases serotonin, a hormone that affects your mood; plants and trees have a calming effect on our nervous systems and air is fresher, to name just a few benefits. Outside movement big and small can help – from incidental movement outside our homes where we have the opportunity to pause and simply take note of our natural and built surrounds, to a more planned getaway into nature to experience its awe on a larger scale – from gently immersive occasions to so-called ‘peak experiences’.
Another benefit of outdoor movement is that it is free! Just take a step out of your front door and a whole outdoor world awaits you. No need to pay for an expensive gym membership or exercise class, especially with the rise of free outdoor gym equipment being installed around Australia, it’s just you and the world around you at no cost at all.
Natural movement, and natural movement outdoors, while simple and classic concepts, bear being top of mind every single day of our lives. This mindfulness can help us carve out the time each day, even if it’s just five minutes, to get outside and move, to notice, to inhale, then… exhale.
By Sarah Panther