Movement variety is essential to life

We all know that we cannot live on a single food forever. If you ate nothing but broccoli, you might live for quite some time, but eventually you would starve and you certainly wouldn’t be thriving during that process. To thrive nutritionally, we need a variety of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. There is no perfect combination of the above for every person in every situation. Our requirements change from day to day and from person to person. Why should movement be any different?

Most people think all exercise is created equal. We tend to think that you can lift weights, run, bike, play volleyball, or do anything you want as long as you are exercising. While I would agree that any exercise is better than no exercise, it’s important to get a wide variety of movements to optimize our movement nutrition. Doing nothing but running is similar to eating nothing but broccoli. It’s probably better than nothing, but it certainly isn’t enough to thrive.

To truly thrive as a human we need a tremendous variety of movement in our lives. We need to run, jump, swing, hang, squat, hinge, push, pull, play sports, sprint, climb, bend, twist, and expose our bodies to as much as we possibly can safely. Every joint needs to be taken through its full range of motion every day, and preferably, loaded to an appropriate degree within that entire range of motion. We need to teach our bodies new movements and perfect movements we perform on a daily basis. We need to expose ourselves to different movement flavors and nutrients to ensure our survival. Variety isn’t just the spice of life. It is the key to life.

Do your best to discover and use some movement patterns you’ve been neglecting. You can do this analytically and examine each joint and see what it can do, or you can do it more organically and make yourself perform a task we normally let the inventions around us do. For example, how many new patterns would you discover if you didn’t allow yourself to use your kitchen faucet? If you still wanted to use that sink, you would need to start carrying water in buckets for at least a few feet. What if you didn’t use the countertop? Would you squat more? What if you didn’t use a cart or basket at the grocery store and carried everything? Maybe you would need more than one trip, but would that really kill you? If you prefer a more formal approach, take an exercise class you’ve never tried. Go to Zumba, or yoga, or bootcamp, or any other fitness class you’re unfamiliar with. The key is new and frequent exposure.

We all enjoy a variety of foods in our lives. We get bored with the same thing every day and so does our body. We try new restaurants and ingredients and learn something about ourselves in the process. Do the same thing with your exercise and movement. I’m sure you’ll be surprised and satisfied with the results.