(time codes are approximate)
03:11:00 - Intentional Aging - what is it? (Jump to section)
00:11:59 - Movement - And How Do I Get More of It (Jump to section)
18:50:00 - The SLOTH economical model (Jump to section)
22:20:00 - Not Just Moving but Getting More of Your Parts Moving (Jump to section)
27:40:00 - You're Never Not Moving (Jump to section)
29:25:00 - What is YOUR Reason For Not Moving?(Jump to section)
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE SHOW
This is the Move Your DNA podcast, a show where movement science meets your everyday life. I’m Katy Bowman - biomechanist, author, and lecture-giver. All bodies are welcome here. Let’s get moving.
Hey friends. So, last month I was asked to give a talk on movement for my local library’s series of presentations on Intentional Aging. And this was how it was written up: Biomechanist, author, and movement expert, Katy Bowman, M.S., will provide an engaging and interactive presentation on how to age dynamically. Katy will cover the difference between movement and exercise, why both the whole body and each body part needs its own dose of movement, and how to fit more movement throughout each day. Katy’s books, including Dynamic Aging, can be found in print and eBook at the library. And that's true for the library where I am and probably for the library where you are too.
So, I'm gonna let you know just how engaging the talk was because it was recorded - because it was on Zoom. And we're putting the audio here for you to enjoy. Let’s have a listen.
EVENT HOST: So let's get started. We have an exciting presentation today with local author and biomechanist, Katy Bowman. And with that, I would like to hand things over to Katy and let us get started.
KATY: Good morning everyone! There's probably one word in my bio that most people have not heard before and that's biomechanist so I'll just briefly say what it is that I do professionally, and that is biomechanics which is a field of study that is part bio - hence the bio - biology, living systems, and then the rest of it, the mechanics part is a field of study that comes from physics which is Newtonian physics. So it's lever systems and pressures and things like that. So when you put them together, what I do is, I figure out how movement works in living systems. And it's not always humans - any living system is influenced by the movement environment that it's in and the loads it experiences. That's why if you look outside and see the trees around your home or in the streets that you drive by the loads that trees experience dictate how they branch and how they grow. So even the shape of a tree is sensing how it needs to move to survive in an environment and then branching or adjusting accordingly. And so humans are the same. We work the same way. But movement is not really something that we talk about very often. We're gonna talk about it ad nauseam this morning because I really like to open people's eyes to an environment that maybe they haven't considered before.
So I'm going to start with this concept of intentional aging. And I write books so words are really important to me. I tend to learn best through words. And because every word holds these concepts that I like to ponder. I don't like to use words lightly. So when I was asked to do this talk on intentional aging, I had to go look up intentional. Because I was like, "I don't really know if I know what intentional means." So I started with that and the definition of it was: Done on purpose. And then so I was like, "How do you age on purpose?" Because aging is, from a biologist's standpoint, fairly inevitable. Right? I had this great pin a long time ago that someone gave to me that says, "Aging it's for every body." And it was an artifact from the grey panther movement in the 60s and 70s. There used to be a mandatory retirement age. And I think it was 65. And when one woman was asked to leave her job because she had aged out, she started this grey panther movement which really looked at - it looked at - I mean it's just like any other social justice movement. It's this idea that - it's like why are people who are older treated differently than other people? Shouldn't we have some sort of similar treatments across the board? So I just love that pin because it is inevitable. But on the flip side of it, and what I'm gonna talk about now is, there is something in biology that we use to delineate aging. Because my other question was like, "If I know what intentional is, what does aging mean, really?" I think on one hand it's the passing of time. So in biology, we would call that your chronological age. How many revolutions around the sun have you accumulated? But there is also in biology your biological age. And that means that you can have two people with the same chronological age - they're the same years on the planet - but if you look at their cells, their cells reveal that one person might have a lower biological age. Which means their cells are - they haven't used up all the duplications of their cells, if you will. And I'm gonna read something a little more about that to clear up any confusion about it.
So, ok, so now I'm at this place where I understand intentional as we're gonna do the part of aging that we can do on purpose. So that's gonna be the non-chronological part. You're not going to slow down or speed up the amount of minutes that you spend. But you can make different lifestyle choices that end up affecting your biological age. Ok, now I know I'm what I'm gonna talk about. So then I've got this field of study that I'm really interested in which is movement. So then the question is how does movement relate to our biological age? And so I thought that I would read what I have already written down. I wrote a book called Dynamic Aging. So I'm gonna read a section from that because these words have been really well thought out and then more importantly they've been edited by a professional. So I'm gonna read this short section:
Our bodies require movement - a lot of it - to operate fully. This is the reason exercise is almost always listed as beneficial for numerous health issues. So I'm just gonna break in there to say, in almost every single medical issue, movement is listed as something that's preventive or restorative for an issue. So, it's pretty ubiquitous. That moving more is beneficial to the body. And it's not only the muscles and joints that movement protects. A lack of exercise can affect the health of your eyes, your brain, your digestion. It can negatively impact your energy levels, your lipid panel results, or simply how good you feel each day. And a lack of exercise could be causing your cells to age faster. According to one researcher, on the effect of diet and movement on aging - so now this is a quote from the Mayo Clinic. Some of us believe that aging is just something that happens to all of us and it's just a predestined fate. And by the time I turn 65 or 70 or 80 I will have Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, says Dr. Lay Russler. And this new study that is referenced in the book clearly shows the importance of modifiable factors so healthy diet and even more so, just the importance of regular physical activity. So that doesn't mean that we need to be marathon runners, but we need to find ways to increase our habitual activity levels to stay healthy and prevent processes that drive aging and aging-related diseases. That's the end of the quote.
Here's a little bit more in my section. How is it that we can age faster? As I said earlier in the chapter, we're all aging at the same rate. Or are we? Each of your cells has a limited number of times it can divide. This is why our bodies don't last forever. The number of times your cells can divide is determined by the rate of loss of the protective caps of each chromosome at each cell division. And those caps are called telomeres. You might have heard the word telomeres before so, I'm just gonna jump to a sidebar here. This is fun when you read your own book out loud because you can jump around. Telomers are best thought of as the plastic cap on your shoelaces that prevent the lace from unraveling. Can everyone imagine that? Do we even have lace shoes anymore? I feel like we've gone slip-on and velcro. But if you remember at the end of the shoelace if you look at it closely, there is this additional piece that keeps it from falling apart. So telomeres are within our cells. Once the telomeres are gone, the DNA is unstable and just like the thread of a lace without the cap. And it is too risky to allow the cell to continue to divide. Certain lifestyle factors like poor diet or inflammation or a lack of movement can accelerate your cell divisions and the rate that you're losing the telomeres on your chromosomes. What this means is that you, dear reader, or in this case dear zoom attender, you have two ages. One age is determined by your birth date, which is your chronological age and the other is the age of your cells or your biological age. Your biological or cellular age depends on how fast you've prompted your cells to divide and how well your DNA is maintained through lifestyle-related factors. So hopefully that clarifies what people are looking at in the cells to determine your biological age and what the difference is between chronological and biological age.
So going back to the main body of the book: Once a cell has stopped dividing it becomes what is termed a senescent cell. Senescent cells are still active but are associated with the production of inflammatory molecules and they contributed to many of what we call age-related diseases. The possible number of cell divisions we experience is not a fixed amount, but it's a range that varies. Adults range between 50 and 70 divisions. Although we all accumulate days at the same rate, our cells are not all dividing at the same rate. And also the amount of telomere DNA lost at each cell division is not the same. Which means two people at the same chronological age, could have a different biological age, each having a different number of cellular divisions remaining before their cells become senescent. So the takeaway here is movement matters to your body on the cellular level.
All right, that's my argument for movement and why we need to move more. Now the rest of what I'm going to be talking about is, alright, I'm convinced. And you may or may not be convinced at this point. But if you are convinced or you're willing to think about it a little bit more then the next question is: "How do I get more movement? What does movement mean? So as a biomechanist, I'm really also interested in that word:
Movement. Because when I say the word movement most people are going to hear the construct or the idea of exercise. Movement and exercise are so tethered together in our brains that we have a hard time separating the ideas. So when I say we need to be moving more a little bit all day, some people are like, how can I possibly exercise all day. I don't have time to exercise or whatever it is. So there are three different definitions here that's helpful when it comes to figuring out how to move more.
The first is, movement is just any time you change the shape of your body - any time your body parts are loaded differently. It's really broad. It's the broadest category of movement. And then within movement is another category called physical activity. And physical activity would just be using your musculoskeletal muscle - well I guess the definition of physical activity is any time you're moving your body to get something done whether that's exercise or chores around the house or getting to and from your car or whatnot. Then there is a sub-category of physical activity called exercise. So most of us can think of exercise as something you're doing with the intention of making your physical well-being better. It usually has a predetermined duration. Like "I'm gonna do it for 20 minutes or 30 minutes." It has a predetermined mode meaning you're like, "I'm going to take a walk for 20 minutes" or "I'm going to take a yoga class" or "I'm gonna go swimming." It really is physical fitness-centric. You're doing it for the purpose of making your physical body better. It's usually rhythmic or repetitive in nature. And you've predetermined when you engaged in it how long you're gonna do it for. It's a class period. It's a 20-minute DVD session that you can follow on your television or a computer at home. So there's a lot of structure to exercise. Physical activity from a public health standpoint is really where we're trying to focus now to get more people moving more throughout the day.
So I'm not going to talk too much about exercise because exercise is interesting. Exercise is something that, it's a solution that a very sedentary culture came up with. It's how you should get your movement throughout the day. So there's nothing really natural about the construct of exercise. It's a newly emerging phenomenon sort of like dietary supplements. It's like when your diet when the collective diet of a population has become less nutrient-dense - so maybe the foods that are now available have less nutrients per calorie. When the soils have become so depleted that even the same fruit sixty years later has fewer nutrients within it, what we come up with is well we still need the nutrient because the nutrient by definition is something that our bodies physically require - we come up with the idea of supplements. Great. I'm not able for whatever reason to get the nutrients I need from my daily eating, which is how we get nutrients with the exception of the sun. When there's no more movement left in our daily lives, then we turn to the dietary supplement version of movement which is exercise. Right? It's parsed out. It's in a bottle. There are specific nutrients that we're getting, vitamin a, vitamin b, vitamin d, vitamin bike ride, vitamin take a walk, or whatever.
So that's the second piece to pull up and just to expand our idea of what movement means is to point out the difference between exercise and movement and physical activity. So I do think that that requires thinking for a second about us culturally in our day-to-day experience. Culture is a little tough because it's hard to see the culture that you're in. But if you think about even our homes. I'm looking around - I'm in my office right now and I'm looking around my office - but if you look in your home, how many chairs are in your home? How many seats are in your home? If you... I always say calculate the chair to butt ratio of your home. So that would be how many bottoms are in your house and how many individual places are there for them to take rest. And taking rest is great. But we definitely have a society where the bulk of the structure of the society itself promotes not moving. We normally don't think about it that way. We're a very fast-moving culture so we tend to think of our culture as promoting convenience. But equally, you could argue that convenience is almost always, 100% of the time, about reducing the movement it takes to do something. So that's what the buttons, and you know ... I think about the window lifting and lowering mechanism of my car. When I was little I had to use my arms to roll it back and forth to get the window up and down. Now I just push my finger up and down. And if you actually went and made a list of all the things that you do on a day-to-day basis, moving to just the finger moving version has become a thing. And of course, I'm talking about a smartphone or an iPad where even ordering food is a movement of the finger. Ordering groceries is a movement of the finger now. Where before, I mean even if you had to walk into a grocery store, you know, two or three years ago, and move around, now you can move it with your finger. Think about my grandparents or great-grandparents who for the most part across the board, everyone's grandparents, had to produce that food through actually bending over and squatting down and planting and digging. So there's just been a slow atrophy of movement from the culture.
So I was thinking about figuring out - I was thinking about how everyone can figure out where to get more movement in their daily life. And I use an economy model which breaks down all of our days into "S.L.O.T.H." five categories. And it's called a SLOTH economical model because our day can be broken into five categories for the most part. Sleep time - which is the S. Leisure time - which is L. O - is our occupation or our work. It doesn't have to be paid work but it's really what you spend your time doing in that fits that occupation category. SLOT - Transportation is T - so that's moving yourself from point a to point b. And H - Is home. So we've got those 5 domains...domains is a better word. They are domains in which we spend all of our time. So right now exercise - and exercise is great - is going to fit usually within the Leisure category. So many people don't have leisure, so I mean certainly we all - well I guess I don't want to use the word all. Many people don't have leisure and I do think that many people feel that the greatest limitation or barrier to movement or hurdle to movement is time. So I really like to work on offering solutions to moving more that are not in the leisure category. So I'll just say right off the top that your exercise is gonna fit into leisure. So let's talk about how movement fits into non-leisure.
So, we'll set sleep aside, for now. Because that's probably the most difficult place to get more movement as far as domains go. But let's talk about occupation. So how do you access the movement potential of all of your domains? Well, we can start actually with transportation because that's pretty easy. So transportation, I could take a poll or a survey but I would probably find that this town is equal to other towns where most transportation is done via car or other motorized vehicle. But you could also opt for active transportation. Right? So active transportation would be walking somewhere, or riding your bike. And the difference between walking for transportation and walking for exercise or leisure is simply the amount - the ability that you have when you expand your way of thinking - to get more walking in. Right? Because if you wanted to go run something to the store that's a mile away or take some things to a friend's house or maybe you're at the grocery store and you have library books to return - this idea that maybe you wouldn't use your car but would walk a portion of your daily errands - what that does is that makes some of your transportation period more active. So that's one example of how you can be looking at the domains of the day to get more movement. So that's the difference between exercise and movement. And it's helpful because you'll end up getting much more physical activity when you can think of movement as a broader construct than just exercise.
The second piece is that yes there is moving our whole body from point a to point b. There is also how well each of your parts is able to move. So moving more, and this really ties into what I was talking about with cellular senescence - that movement is really a part by part phenomenon. When we talk about movement, "I exercise, I don't exercise, I took a walk today. I didn't take a walk today." They're whole person states. We used to think of ourselves as moving or not. But as a biomechanist, and especially one who focuses on injury and disease, I can tell you that in addition to the idea that we need to move our whole person frequently throughout the day, there is another often neglected understanding of movement which is all of your parts need to be moving as well. And those - now we have two separate prescriptions for movement. One is yes I need to move more, the other one is, man I have to get all my parts moving. So it's sort of again to call out the nutrition idea, there's moving which we could liken to eating, which you would figure out how much you got by calories. Like "I ate today." Great, I'm glad you ate today. "I moved today." Great, I'm glad you moved today. I'm glad you ate today. Ok, now what did you eat today so then we can see the nutrients that are contained within the foods that you ate. Because diseases often happen, if we talk about diseases of nutrition - certain symptoms arise, certain diseases arrive, in the absence of particular nutrients. I'm just gonna throw vitamin D out there right now. Because we live in the pacific northwest and so we're probably used to the idea of "I'm a good eater" but maybe you're still low on vitamin d for sunlight or dietary reasons. And so we can still not be well even if our caloric demands were met. So similarly you could be a regular exerciser and not be getting vitamin elbow extension and flexion. Maybe your left ankle, even tho you take a walk every day, doesn't move very much. So now you've got this part of your body that is sedentary. We think of our body, our whole person as sedentary or not but you could also think of individual parts of your body as sedentary or not. Maybe you cycle every day but as far as your hip bones are concerned bicycling all the time doesn't really get the hip bones what they need in terms of weight-bearing. Right? So that's why you can see different bone changes in people for whom cycling is the only, let's say the food that they eat the most. It's their movement food that they consume but they don't do other things that place weight in different parts. So our need for movement is very much like our need for food in that there is a range of nutrition that we need from movement. So we need - have you ever heard Eat the Rainbow before? Make sure that you're eating foods of different colors - that you have some protein and some fat and some carbohydrate. What's happening is you're making sure if you're getting all the nutrients. Even if you take the best food, and I always use kale as this example. I see your face out there. Yeah. So kale as the best food, if you only ate kale, the aka healthiest food, you'd be ill. Because kale is not a diet maker. It is one element and you could swap it out for other green elements, right? Movement nutrition is the same way. You can be a regular exerciser, but if you are only eating a single exercise food, again and again, you're going to start suffering movement malnutrition. So that's a different phenomenon than not moving at all. Right? So it's not as simple as everyone should move more. Usually in general we could all use more physical activity dispersed throughout the day but also we need a much more robust movement diet. So maybe you might have heard of cross-training - this idea - if I swim, like at the Y, let's say, or take a water aerobics class twice a week, that you would want to balance that with a different food. Or add to it. And the challenge runs into ... we're always like, I only have three sessions a week in which I can exercise. So it's like we already know we can do more than exercise. So maybe your favorite mode of exercise is hitting the pool at the Y whether it's swimming or water aerobics or water walking, you could pick up some active transportation, that's just going a couple places on foot, to balance out the movement foods. Because your body doesn't really recognize the difference between exercise and non-exercise time. All your time is equal as far as your cells are concerned.
So if you're in a chair for nine hours a day sitting, that is the movement food you're eating the most. So really, and I didn't lead with this because it feels sort of philosophical but you're never not moving. We're under a gravitational load all the time. You're moving 100% of the time. It's just that if you work at the front door at Costco checking people in and you do that six to eight hours a day, then the movement food you eat most often is standing. Right? Does that make sense? And then if you have an office job and you are at your desk the bulk of the time then the movement food you are eating most often is office chair. Right? So again if we look at that occupational field and think, "Ok, the food - the movement food that I'm eating the most here is sitting at my desk" and leaving my desk is not an option because this is my work, then it could be "I need to eat a different movement food." So maybe I will stand for a portion of work, or maybe I will adjust my position in the chair a little bit so that my upper back or my lower back is not eating the same way that I'm sitting in the chair. Maybe I will schedule it so I will take a lap around the office. And instead of doing a message or email to the person across the room that I just up and walk over there - breaking up the way that you're sitting. So there's a lot of ways to approach the outline of a day to be able to get more movement. But hopefully, this big idea of it's not only moving more it's moving more of your parts - those are the two big ideas I wanted to leave you with.
Ok, this is me again, after the presentation. So, I’m stopping the recording now, right when I started taking questions. Even though they were great, they filled up a lot more time. I did have one question I asked the audience: what’s your reason - YOUR reason - for not moving more. I got a lot of great answers and they were really honest answers. Because most of the folks coming to this talk on aging were post-retirement, time wasn’t really their main issue. The big one was pain. Moving hurts, and they didn’t know how to troubleshoot that. Also, not knowing where to go to feel safe outside, or how to deal with more complex movements or weather. And then also up there were lots of “too many good shows on Netflix” type answers. So, again, lots of honest stuff for the group, and also for me, to mull on. Dealing with hurdles to movement is what I spend all my time thinking about and working on, so it was great to have them all given in This large group where everyone could see what’s going on in the collective - or at least that collective. When you have your next minute available, see if you can identify your largest barrier to movement. And I’d really love to know what they all are and how we might overcome them together. All right. Until next time.
Hello! My name is Rachel, a nutritious movement teacher from Wimbledon London UK. This has been Move Your DNA with Katy Bowman, a podcast about movement. Hopefully you find the general information in this podcast informative and helpful but it is not intended to replace medical advice and should not be used as such. Our theme music was performed by Dan MacCormack. This podcast is produced by Brock Armstrong and the transcripts are done by Annette Yen. Find out more about Katy, her books, and her movement programs at NutritiousMovement.com.