Exercise Opportunist

It seems like the main point of adult life is to get from one chair to another. We get up in the morning and sit at the breakfast table, we leave the house early to catch the less crowded bus so that we get a seat and don’t have to stand for our commute, or alternatively, we sit in the car and drive. When we get to work, we sit in the same chair from 9 to 5, sit on the bus journey home, eat dinner in front of the TV in the comfy chair before going to bed.

Much of our environment is designed to shuttle us from one place to another, from one chair to another, without any opportunity to play or move beyond the immediate goal of getting from place A to place B. Our cities are designed to discourage us from interacting with them. Studs are added to handrails and ledges to stop skateboarders from grinding and extra armrests are added to public benches to stop people lying down. These are all anti-play, anti-homeless measures, but they are also anti-human, area-denial measures that are unnatural to us. Most other species can engage much more freely with their environments, unless in a zoo.

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We’ve confined exercise to hour long sessions in gyms because our environment is no longer suited to our needs to move, play, and exercise, and its been designed that way. Whatever the reason behind this design, its not good for your health. Become an exercise opportunist. Ask for a standup desk in work to encourage standing and movement, sit or lie on the floor while watching TV instead of a chair, and use the environment around you in any way you can. For example, use a bike stand for leg raises to work your abs, or use tram handles for hanging to increase shoulder strength. There is a free gym all around you if you look for it. Try to interact move with your environment. Play in your city.

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Ido Portal created the one month hanging challenge. With a lack of items to hang off in my home and office (rubbish excuses) I didn’t fulfil the challenge but I have started to incorporate more hanging into my exercises and general life. I hang from the Rings in the park and from the bars on the tram during my commute.

Hanging more has improved the strength and stability in my shoulders, elbows, and wrists. I’ve also seen improvements in my grip strength and endurance. An unexpected gain, though in hindsight it seems obvious, was in my pull ups. Hanging is the basis of pulling strength, and when you become strong enough to hang with relative ease, pull ups become much more comfortable

The park I train in can be very busy. When families with kids pass by, the kids often ask to hang from the Rings I’ve set up. Two striking things about this. Firstly, kids have remarkable hanging strength, yes they are smaller but their muscles are also less developed so their hanging strength impressive. ¬†As adults we have grown weaker than we should be due to the lack of physical demands in our daily lives. Secondly, kids can’t tell the difference between exercise and fun, to them its one and same, the Rings are essentially a playground. In our sedentary lives we tend not to move and climb and hang and exercise for no other reason than ¬†because its fun. I’ve rediscovered that fun by moving from the indoor gym, to the outside world.

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