Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Passive Fitness - getting started with basic movement


Passive Fitness - getting started with basic movement


Before I get too deep into diet, nutrition, and exercise, I want to talk about getting your body moving. You see, there are two types of fitness - active and passive.


Active Fitness is your workout routine. You get dressed in the right clothes, put on your exercise shoes, and head out the door. You plan your day around it, and you expect to sweat. You also know your muscles are going to be sore tomorrow. This is an important part of fitness; I've talked about it many times before and will again many times in the future.


Passive Fitness is your regular movement throughout the day. Walking to the bus stop, or across the parking lot; walking from your desk to the bathroom; jumping with excitement when Dave from marketing brings a dozen donuts to the office (doh!) - that kind of thing. It doesn't seem like much, but getting more passive fitness into your day can have a dramatic impact.

a brief History Lesson.

Compare our human evolution with our societies' evolution:

From the beginning of time through the mid-1700s, life didn't change all that much. Most people's main concern was putting food on the table, literally. And since there was no refrigeration, part of each day was spent gathering food and preparing meals.

The Industrial Revolution from the late 1700s and into the 1800s was a time filled with unprecedented changes. Electricity and the railroad industry made things possible which had never before been considered. Steam and coal were used to produce energy, along with new iron-making techniques. Communication, travel, farming machinery, distribution - life was still hard work, but it was now on a larger scale. People moved from the farming lands in the countryside to the cities in droves.

The 1900s took the momentum from the Industrial Revolution and accelerated it. Assembly lines, factories, steel mills - these became the new jobs, and productivity on a large scale went through the roof. People still worked hard, and they still spent most of their time on their feet, but the results of this work provided easier living.

Finally, during the last 60 years, we've become an electronic nation. Television, and then computers and electronic games, have consumed our evenings, slowly at first, and then with increasing intensity and duration. We now work mostly by sitting down at a desk for hours at a time, before going home to sit in front of the TV.

Now, let's get back to that concept of Passive Fitness.

From the beginning of human history, some 2 million years ago, our lifestyle required us to be active throughout the day, and our species evolved to accommodate this active lifestyle. And throughout this 2 million years, obesity was virtually non-existent. (except for the very well off, who could afford a lifestyle more like what we have today, with lots of food and less exercise!) Then, over the last 60 years, we've become a species who sits around a lot, while at the same time eating more than we ever have before in our history. Yet our DNA remains the same - do you think you're genetically different from your grandparents? Heck no!

Bottom Line

Our bodies were designed for movement. Our muscular and cardiovascular systems, our balance and vision, even our brains and creativity are the product of 2 million years of adapting to and with movement throughout our environment.

For all the talk about Diet and Exercise (Active Fitness), our bodies still need Passive Fitness to function at their best. So get up and walk around the office a couple times an hour. Park further away from the door and walk across the parking lot. Stand up and stretch throughout the day. Give your body some Passive Fitness, and the road to healthy will be easier.

-Chris Butterworth

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