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The power of movement

Movement! A topic that causes a lot of thought around how much of it we lack. Desk jobs, home office set-ups, busy home life, and deadlines all seem to be preventing us from what we were born to do: move functionally!

Photographs: Unsplash

Text: Alexandra Beck

We move every day, but possibly in ways that create more pain and injuries than benefits for our health. For example, we sit on a desk chair and move our fingers on the computer keyboards, get up to grab a coffee and sit back down. Well, I think you get the picture - it's not ideal.

Movement doesn't just mean moving from one place to another - it means being able to do all the valuable things in life that enable us to stay independent for as long as possible. Picking up the kids as they grow, reaching for the vase on the top shelf of the tallest cupboard, carrying all the groceries up the stairs at the same time and being able to get up from the floor without any assistance. Moreover, physical movement increases positive well-being and self-confidence and can reduce stress and emotional exhaustion!

Movement is powerful. Movement is great. But for movement to be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, it needs a little nudge.

The best way to ensure your body stays strong and functional for a very long time is to train it to do so. There are seven basic movements the human body can perform, and all other exercises are merely variations of these: Pull, Push, Squat, Lunge, Hinge, Rotation and Gait. By performing all of these movements, you will be able to stimulate all of the major muscle groups in your body, and here are some basic strength exercises to do so:

#1 Rowing

A simple resistance band around a door handle or on the bottom of your feet will do the trick. Make sure to use a full range of motion and squeeze the shoulder blades together for a few seconds. Do this a few times a week and feel the postural differences!

#2 Push-ups

Do these against a wall and progress to the floor as you get stronger. You needn't do hundreds of these but focus on your 8-10 best repetitions.

#3 Bodyweight squats

You can use a chair for these. Sit and stand 10-12 times, pushing through your heels, and you rise up.

#4 Lunges

Walking lunges are my favourite. However, if you suffer from knee pain, I would use a chair to support the movement and statically perform 8-10 single lunges on each side. Alternatively, you can step up on a chair, as this will engage the same muscles.

#5 Hip hinges

You can use a long-looped resistance band here too. Anchor the band around a heavy table leg, place yourself inside the loop at hip height and press your glutes back while leaning your torso forward.

#6 Rotation

The core (specifically the obliques) is the main contributor to this set of movements. Again, a long resistance band will be more than enough here. Fasten an elastic band high up. Grip the band with both hands, step away, and stand sideways to the band's anchor point. With almost straight arms, make a sweeping, chopping-like movement diagonally downward. Return to the starting position in a controlled manner.

#7 Gait

Lastly, we have gait, which is the walking technique. This might seem insignificant, but walking is a fundamental movement. Gait combines multiple movements (involving lunging, rotating and pulling with the hamstrings). To perform this, you could do farmer's walks using two buckets filled with equal weights (or dumbbells/kettlebells if you can access some).

A strong body is the key to a lifetime of mobility, and that mobility will provide you with a great sense of well-being, self-confidence and energy, so don't neglect all the types of movement your body needs to stay healthy!

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