The short, fast, and dirty is…our body’s health is at stake.
A Big Debate
If you’ve seen any of my other posts, you may start to get the feeling that I’m not the biggest fan of “exercise”. Sure, I use the word every day, but that’s only to get my messages across to the broader audience. Being a trainer, I operate, for the most part, within the confines of the fitness and exercise world. People choose to train with me because they’ve been nudged by their physician to start ‘exercising’ and prioritizing their health. The other people I work with are former and current body enthusiasts, people who have been using their bodies and are now in a place where they want to take themselves to the next level of physical health. Either way, people come to train and ‘exercise’.
“Are training and exercise the same thing?” The short answer is sure. If you exercise, you could consider it training. However, your brain doesn’t know what exercise is. Your brain recognizes patterns of stress. And training is typically for something. You train to run, to swing a club, to meditate, to press yourself off of the ground, training typically has a direction or a purpose. You train your tissues in a particular fashion to improve the way you perform a certain task. Exercise is more about broad, general moving of the body without too much direction. Exercise, when done without purpose, is typically shallow, thin, sterile, and uninteresting. It doesn’t hold water.
Training Is A Discipline
A more pointed response may be that training is the process by which you go through physical movements that break down and build up muscle tissues in a specific sequence. Training (in my humble opinion) is a process of stressing, restressing, and relaxing different subsystems of the body. And you do it over, and over, and over again until its manageable. And then you go and repeat the process, and maybe add a layer of complexity to it. It is a series of patterns, or joint motions, that help link your body to the rest of your nervous system, to teach you where it is. And eventually how to take you somewhere you want to be.
It grows you. It shapes you, your behaviors and daily movements change as a result of training. You might train a lunge to replicate going up stairs, or maybe you run on a treadmill to mimic running. You throw a ball to train your shoulder, arm, and eye coordination. You jump rope to build your Achilles tendon reflex so that you can walk up a hill with more spring. The list of possibilities is endless. That all being said, training “runs deep” into the body. Movement is wired to your nervous system at a cellular level. Having said that your training can extend beyond movement and influence posture, how you breathe, or even the way you handle your emotions.
Exercise Is Made Up
What about exercise, does exercise have those same effects? To start off, exercise is the term we’ve come up with to remind ourselves of how to move our body. It is now the dedicated space for which we sweat, move, grunt, and expel energy. So now there is a blanketed term for anything movement related called exercise. “Hey Bob can you go golfing Saturday morning?” “Sorry Joe, I can’t until I’m done exercising until 11.” It is what we use to describe a process, an activity, a checklist item. Is the exercise relevant to daily activities? Maybe, but probably not. From there we gauge our ‘fitness level’ according to how much we exercise. We correlate exercise with fitness without having a more accurate representation of what exercise even is (madness!)!
Exercise, because of its broad label (and its promise to lower body fat), is often times deemed as the thing you need to do to improve your health. And so people are left to their own devices, to do whatever form of exercise they wish! Is this bad? No. Is this good? No. It is what it is, but the problem is nobody is being educated as to what is at stake, when performing exercise. Very few people are asking what’s the matter with what they’re doing for exercise. “Afterall, its exercise, I enjoy it, it gives me results (lean body fat, muscles, I sweat, lower cholesterol, etc).”
This is where its worth looking at what we’re doing…
Why do we exercise? We exercise for health, endorphins, a sense of accomplishment, competitive drive, meditative states, and to a degree, vanity. This is all well and good. Though it seems we’re missing a more introspective reason, a contemplative reasoning for why we do what we do.
“What is the reason for this exercise? Why do I want to do this pattern of movement? How will this kind of training benefit my daily life?” THESE are the hard yet necessary questions we’ve got to start asking ourselves if we want happy joints and muscles that work for us instead of against us.
For example, I’ve begun to prioritize utilization of joints, awareness of self, availability of patterns. These have become some of the reasons I train now. Do you have to train this way? Not at all, I’m merely suggesting that we aren’t asking enough questions as to why we do the exercises we do. So are the ways we exercise conducive to our daily life? Is the routine of movements we do helping to transform our daily behaviors? Are our ‘exercises’ promoting healthy joint functionality and causing beneficial stress in our bodies? Or is there something missing…
What is at stake?
If we exercise without consciousness, without attention and intention we risk speeding up degenerative disease in our bodies. And once tissues start to fail, joints begin to experience compression, and joint accessibility begins to diminish. Options we once had and were born with begin to disappear and eventually we start to see other issues down the road. Most injuries occur because of overuse, misuse, and underuse of certain joint structures. And then we become reliant on forms of healthcare that get us back to where we were, and we typically end up reinjuring ourselves. A lot of times because we aren’t asking ourselves the reasoning behind our exercises or even have a clear sight of what we are training our bodies for!
Ramifications of ‘exercise’ without instituting proper training principles can lead to bone fracturesm osteo-arthritis, sciatica, disc herniations, hernias, total joint replacements, surgeries, hormonal imbalances, pelvic floor dysfunction, energy deficiencies, and the list goes on and on.
When you mesh this sort of randomized exercise regimen with 21st-century lifestyles, it makes for a perfect storm of disasters. And I’m not writing this to scare people away or be a Debbie-downer, I’m genuinely interested and invested in people’s physical health. But we’ve got to take responsibility and humble ourselves to the idea of, we don’t know as much as we think we know about the body. With over 650 muscles, 350 joints, 206 bones, and layers upon layers of tissues, and tubes, connecting everything to everything else, not seeking advice or professional advice on how to train is unsophisticated. It is an unsophisticated approach toward optimizing joints and improving your body’s way of performing.
Finding A Professional
Would you go to a mechanic with your car and let them assess and diagnose it and then tell them how to do their job? I would hope not, because it is not your field of expertise. Some mechanics are better than others, so take the time to seek out a trainer or movement therapist that offers comprehensive solutions to take you to the next level in your health. As the field of spatial medicine grows, it is crucial we treat trainers and training as a health oriented practice that helps evolve us as a person. If you’re not experiencing anything new regularly in your body, it may be time to find someone to help navigate you on how to get there. Anyone can be an exercise enthusiast, but understanding anatomy, physiology, and physics is really important for longevity of your body!
The Time Old Question
“Is exercise the same as training?” The answer is it can be, when employed intelligibly and with a logical thought process. However, often times, in this fast-paced, immediate results world, it is not. So as you finish this long winded answer to a not so simple question, ask yourself, are you exercising, or are you training? And if you’re training, what are you training for? And why is that thing the reason you’re training? What is its relation to your everyday life and how does it help expand your consciousness and your body?
Training is not for the weak of heart…it is for those looking to broaden their comfort zone and overcome any ego they might have. Training goes deep into the emotional and psyche. Alas! The mind-body connection is established.