Movement is Medicine: More Than a Change in Perspective

Jenna campbell

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While one in five of us will commit to some sort of goal, be it to lose weight, earn more money, or perhaps quit smoking, most of us will have thrown in the towel on these affirmations by the 10th January, and by February, 80 per cent will have given up all together.

Willpower alone will not ensure we see through our resolutions, because after all, willpower is essentially ‘want power’. One of the many lessons learned at Movement is Medicine - an evening of discovery, movement and inspiration, curated by Dr Jessicarr Moorhouse, Founder of TRIBE.MCR®

Joined by former banker, internationally recognised Movement Coach and founder of Primal Play, Darryl Edwards and Suzy Glaskie, a Functional Medicine certified Health Coach and Founder of Peppermint Wellness, Jessicarr was in good company as we set out to explore why movement is crucial in the quest for better physical and mental well-being and ultimately, why our modern lifestyles are hindering our desire to be fit and well.

Having trained as a Doctor, it was refreshing to hear Jessicarr’s unique perspective on movement and lifestyle medicine. Open and honest, her experiences of the competitive nature of medical school and how this led her to addictive exercise patterns and unhealthy thoughts about eating, while not limited to this field, illustrates the hidden and more problematic side of the fitness and wellness industry as a whole.

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Viewed in light of her quest to put medical theory into practice, she asked guests to think about why they exercise, before moving on to highlighting the lesser known benefits of physical movement. From improved cognition, to the anti-inflammatory properties and social benefits to be gained by both extroverts and introverts, it was clear that increased movement is essential for mind body and soul. As Jessicarr has seen first-hand through group exercise sessions held on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, increased movement in a social setting has a significant effect on participants well-being and sense of self; improving confidence and vitality.

A prolific public speaker, Darryl kicked off his talk with a level of energy and enthusiasm unknown to man. Not exactly surprising given that he is the author of Animal Moves, which explores the evidence behind the importance of play in combating the postures and movement patterns that we pick up as a result of our sedentary lifestyles in western society.

Lamenting the invention of the chair, Darryl spent approximately five seconds in his seat before explaining why our lifestyles and occupations accommodate inactivity and reduced movement. Even in a room of engaged participants he was hard-pressed to find an answer to his question of how much we should be exercising on a daily basis to counteract the hours of the day spent tapping away at our keyboards or engrossed in some sort of device. 

In what was gearing up to be a lively and interactive conversation between speaker and audience, Darryl then navigated the debate towards the solution. While tech has REVOLUTIONISED the way that we capture our vital statistics, when linked to willpower and human behaviour it is apparent that even the most sophisticated of fitness trackers are no match for human motivation, or lack of. Like most fads, interest wanes as consumers become disengaged with capturing data linked to the quantified self.

Much like the aforementioned new year’s resolutions, malaise is widespread. The key to getting people to move more is linked to our feelings towards exercise and relearning our love for movement. Exercise is a problematic word, unappealing, inflexible and the act itself is seen as a chore, or test of endurance.

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According to Darryl, as adults we can fall back in love with movement by embracing ‘incidental movement’ in theory and practice, as we quickly found out. Taking to the floor, Darryl walked us through a few simple movements, that unlike regimented and arduous exercise routines, personified raw and unadulterated fun. In what must have looked like part Irish jig, part slow motion arm wrestle, the group threw themselves into the movements, embracing their inner-child and letting go of whatever stresses or worries they had walked into the room with that evening.

Looking around the room not only had the energy levels increased but it was apparent that everyone was smiling. An air of childlike fun permeated the room and as we settled back into our seats (begrudgingly, of course), the act of movement, as Jess had alluded to before, had brought the group closer together; movement had proven to be a leveller and instigator of meaningful social interaction.

For the final segment of the evening we were given a taste of how Suzy’s work as a Health Coach. Much of her job as a health coach is about helping her clients find a feasible path to meaningful movement and lifestyle change. Giving us a glimpse into her home life, she revealed that changing her own perspective on movement not only steered her away from traditional exercise routines, but brought about a change in how she interacts and spends time with her youngest child. By using Darryl’s Animal Moves Deck, she has been able to adjust her own habits, opting for walking meetings with friends over a coffee-break.

Her evolved thinking was also shaped by a trip to Thailand, where she observed the vitality of the local population, who opted to stand rather than assuming the sedentary positions favoured in the west. Simple alterations such as standing on the morning commute and walking for ten minutes after a meal can make all the difference and it is these changes that she helps her own clients to make.  

As the night drew to a close, we were asked to consider what one small change we could all put into action that would reinvigorate our relationship with movement. Sharing our thoughts around the room it was evident that an evening of diverse and open discussion had affected each and every one of us. Collectively reflecting on what movement meant to us in the past, present and in the future, it was clear that If movement is the solution, then it is about starting a conversation, opening a dialogue, and rediscovering the fun in the everyday, and if the reception to this event was anything to go by, then we’re definitely stepping, crawling and hopping in the right direction.

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There is plenty more in store from TRIBE.MCR® this year; from ‘Nourish’ on the 7th March, in collaboration with Amy Patsalides from Akasha and Kay Pinto from Food Me and of course, weekly TRIBE.MCR Group Training sessions with Jessicarr at Sadler’s Yard and Marie Louise Gardens.

If you are interested in bringing similar talks and workshops to your workplace as part of a wider well-being programmes and corporate initiatives, in formats such as lunch and learn seminars, you can contact Jessicarr here.