The Human Operating Manual


What is your perception of exercise? 

Is it a spandex clad aerobics instructor who is still clinging on to the glory days of the 80s? Maybe it’s your sun-weathered and marathon obsessed uncle that claims David Goggins has got nothing on him. How about the feeling of half-heartedly flailing away on the only free elliptical machine in a crowded gym, desperately hoping that those love handles will “burn off” before summer rolls around. Meanwhile, in the corner of the gym there’s a group of grunting veiny clouds taking photos of themselves in the squat rack.  

Regardless of what comes to mind, we all know that exercise is generally good for our health and wellbeing. However, exercise is, and should be considered, much more than a last-ditch attempt to rid ourselves of our toe eclipsing bellies. Somewhere along the line we sold ourselves on the idea that exercise must be completed in a class or a gym, with the pure intention of losing fat or getting more muscular. We seem to have forgotten that movement (as opposed to exercise) is inseparable from being a living and breathing human being, and should take place daily. Movement is the purest form of play and the act of directly experiencing the outside world, so that we may enhance our strength, mobility, and proprioception. It also has a much greater impact on learning and development, for children and adults alike, than forcing yourself into a dank classroom and rote learning googleable facts. 

This isn’t to say that exercise doesn’t have its application. It is just crucial that we first understand that movement is essential for survival and exercise is useful for advancement and development. Until we can distinguish the difference between the two, we will continue to refuse to move unless it falls under the category of exercise. Resulting in bodies that spend 90% of the day in compromising and debilitating positions (sitting in an office for example) and then 10% of the time being forced to do high-intensity movement and strength training. If you think about the prospect of this sort of lifestyle for a second, I’m sure you’ll begin to understand why consistent daily movement may be useful.

Movement is not a privilege, it is a requirement.

So, to dig a little deeper…

Movement is an evolutionarily integrated process that provides our bodies with information of the external environment, for the purpose of building a greater future prediction model, that potentially improves survival odds. Exercise is excessive movement, in response to interactions with external stressors, which triggers internal physiological changes in preparation for greater success during potential future interactions. Without the feedback of external stressors triggering internal physiological responses, the body catabolizes unnecessary and metabolically expensive structures, to better represent the perceived environmental conditions with the lowest energetic cost possible.     

In layman’s terms: 

  • Exercise = high level movement that we currently execute prescriptively
  • Movement = exploring and learning about ourselves and the world through physical interaction and the corresponding feedback

Alright, we get it. Exercise and movement are good. But not everybody has the luxury of being able to use their valuable time and energy to get smarter, healthier, or stronger. Some people have kids and jobs and health issues and social media posts to look at and whatever. I’ll paraphrase what I said a paragraph ago, movement is life. If you put it off with excuses, you’ll have less energy and strength to carry out those tasks anyway.

Kids learn movement patterns from their parents, as well as sedentary behaviors and beliefs surrounding exercise; cognitive function and energy levels decline, resulting in terrible performance and emotional resilience at your workplace; health issues compound, immune function declines, and doctor’s visits begin to add up; finally, there’s the issue with developing addictive behaviors, such as endless social media scrolling, in the absence of actual real-world interactions.     

In general, the act of being lazy results in our bodies becoming less resilient to physical, mental, and emotional stress from seemingly harmless extended periods of inactivity. Even though it may appear counter intuitive making ourselves use energy when it seems we have little to give in the first place, this is the reason why we need to artificially reenact our paleolithic daily activities in order to counter the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Luckily, there is a silver lining to forcing ourselves to undergo energetically expensive biological exercise requirements. It feels good.  

Not only do our bodies release feel good hormones as a reward for our brief stints of activity, they also become stronger and more resilient, making future movement sessions much less of a burden. So much so that you’ll probably enjoy it. 

Do we need to become an 8 million-strong species of vascular clouds?

As I’m sure you’ve noticed what I’ve been alluding to, gym training is a very specific form of exercise that is incredibly useful, but not necessary for the majority of the population. 

All exercise is beneficial to a certain extent, but your preferences – based on previous skillsets, cultural influence, social influence, and lifestyle goals – will dictate which style is more appropriate or applicable to you.

Find out your WHY for exercising. Are you exercising for longevity, aesthetic development for self-esteem and social influence, or for a competitive advantage within your chosen sport? If you can’t think of a why, just start doing something (anything) until you can figure out what you enjoy doing.

If you want to find out what your basic exercise requirements are, the most efficient way to optimize your training time and recovery, or want to dig deeper into the exercise science, click one of the links below to find out more. 

JayPT +