The Ultimate Movement Expert – Podcast Episode #100

In which Katy Bowman answers listener questions about high-intensity exercise and turbulent flow, and about breathing while moving. Plus, Katy and a mystery guest take a long walk together and ponder questions about how we’re moving.

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00:02:13 – Reader Question #1 – Turbulent Flow – Jump to section

00:12:11 – Reader Question #2 – Breathing – Jump to section

00:19:38 – Meet Today’s Special Guest – Jump to section

00:22:42 – Questions for Today’s Guest – Jump to section

00:23:52 – Let’s Move!  – Jump to section

00:51:17 – 100 bouts of movement – Jump to section



Find more Katy Bowman

Questions to ponder:

Are you moving the way you want to be moving?

In which areas of your body or life have you begun to move better, and in which areas do you still desire to move more?  

What changes can you make in your life, to meet your needs?

Read more about turbulent flow and high intensity activity in:

Alignment Matters  and  Move Your DNA 


The Dynamic Collective

Venn Design


My Mayu

Soft Star Shoes



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Access all previous Move Your DNA podcasts via your podcast provider of choice (Stitcher, iTunes, Libsyn, or Soundcloud).



It’s the Move Your DNA podcast with Katy Bowman. I’m Katy Bowman, biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA and a bunch of other books about movement. This show is about how movement works on the cellular level, how to change your position as you move, and why you might want to, and how movement works in the world, also known as movement ecology. All bodies are welcome.  Are you ready to get moving?




KATY: Good day my friends. Guess what?  This is my one-hundredth episode of the Move Your DNA podcast.  This is also the 8th episode in a shorter series I’m doing on movement perspectives;  Specifically, the various ways people think about and use movement. I am very excited about my guest on this episode and I hope you will be too but before I do what Hollywood calls the “big reveal”, I’ve got two fantastic questions to get to today. These are brought to you by our Dynamic Collective.  This is a coop of sponsors: SoftStar Shoes, MyMayu, UnShoes, Earthrunners, and Venn Design.  All companies that support some lifestyle element of natural movement from minimal footwear – sandals, boots, running footwear – for all ages and all seasons, to minimal furniture that includes sitting cushions and balls that allows more of you to move while you’re just sitting there. They sponsor this question and answer part of each episode of Move Your DNA and you can find more about them in our show notes.  

So today’s question, like everything, are separate, but they’re related. So instead of doing one at the beginning and one at the end of the show, I’m gonna do them back to back in the hopes that their proximity to each other will help you see how they relate to each other. So the first question is from Kendra in California who writes:


In a nutshell, do you have a high-intensity exercise prescription? How long is too long and how can an already active person achieve this without joint damage and problems from turbulent flow?  In a recent podcast, you mentioned that you are looking for a way to get more non-exercise high-intensity movement at 75 to 85 percent heart rate. I’m wondering how this relates to turbulent flow since some of your earlier material suggests that getting over 60 percent of maximum heart rate can wound the walls of the blood vessels and cause plaque build-up.  I understand that doing one type of high-intensity exercise after spending all day sedentary is not ideal….that for healthy blood pressure you need to move all parts of the body to promote vasculature. (I would say that promotes blood distribution.) But what about those of us who make an effort to cross-train? So let’s say a person leads a movement rich life…walks five to seven miles daily, does corrective exercises, and also bikes, hikes, climbs, carries heavy things, and jumps around, achieving about 40 minutes of daily high intensity with heart rate at 75 or 85 percent. Is turbulent flow still a problem?


So this is a fantastic question. I’m going to try to parse it quickly. The first part of the question is, “Do you have a high energy exercise prescription?” I would say that, you could say yes or you could say no meaning that I think that we try to pursue the minutes at a certain intensity. That’s exercise prescription from a fitness perspective. If you read the expanded version of Move Your DNA, there’s a section in there on the Hadza about the minutes at high and medium levels of intensity compared to low levels of intensity. So if you want more information you can go look at that as well. I’m gonna speak to that a little bit right now.  So, I think that the way that I would frame the need for high intensity has more to do with the need for the variation of heart and lung movement or shapes. So that’s different than we’re used to thinking about it because we’re not used to thinking about all the different shapes that our thoracic cavity creates. So if you think about the thoracic cavity, it’s got a diaphragm at the bottom. It’s walls are the bony ribs but also the muscles in between each and then of course you’ve got the motion of the shoulder that it lifts up towards the ear. So you’ve got these three general ways that your thoracic cavity can shape shift. We call that breathing. But there’s not one breath because every motion that you do, the relationship or the ecology between the movement that you’re actually doing.  Let’s say that you’re carrying something in one arm as you’re sprinting and the intensity with which you’re doing it – that would be the sprinting part – that would be a different thoracic cavity shape than if you were carrying something in your other arm or not carrying anything or having something on your back or pulling something. Because as you engage more parts of you, that is gonna all influence the shape your thoracic cavity has to be in in order to pull in that breath – in order to create the pressure change. So what we have been calling intensity you could also say it’s a particular way that the heart is needing to move and it’s a particular way that the thoracic cavity… and it’s not really only the thoracic cavity. It’s your abdominal cavity and your pelvic floor and your spine. The way all of that has to move with every single breath.  So, in Alignment Matters which is my earliest place that I’ve put text about heart rate – people are often, I would say, pursuing general fitness and the idea in exercise science is that the goal is to move towards the heart rate. So it doesn’t really matter what the mode is or what the geometry is, you’re moving towards something your watching on a heart rate monitor or something that you’re measuring and are able to calculate the intensity. I am not after the intensity. I am after the various lung and heart movements because those create specific adaptations. And then of course there’s a diversity in the piece in Move Your DNA that I was talking about with the Hadza, they are, for a lot of that, medium and intensity work, it’s things like carrying large volumes of water, carrying heavy objects, that the heart rate becomes elevated to the seventy-five percent and the eighty-five percent because of the loads that the body is under as opposed to just doing whatever it takes to get the heart to behave in that particular way. So I do think that our heart and lungs need to move in the shapes that are created when you get that measure of 75 – 85 percent heart rate but I think that how you get it is important. So in Alignment Matters – I’m sorry I went kind of all over the place – In Alignment Matters I was talking about the fact that most people tend to chase the intensity in bodies that are extremely stiff. And that turbulent flow, as I expanded upon later in Move Your DNA, the reason that the turbulent flow is an issue is in arteries that don’t vasodilate very well. And there seems to be some sort of relationship between the stiffness of a muscle and the stiffness of the artery itself. And that’s touched about in maybe a couple of essays and blog posts that are contained in Alignment Matters. So we are after pliable parts so that the risk of turbulent flow actually decreases. Because your body should be able to open the blood vessels to mitigate the amount of turbulence. So I don’t think that there is a turbulence that is created simply because of the intensity but that the turbulence is created again in this compound issue of an increase in intensity without the ability for your blood vessels to dilate evenly. That there are areas that have plaque – and of course if you already have plaque, that is also a turbulent flow maker. Or if there’s stiffness within the artery itself where maybe there can be vasodilation around the stiff area but not in the more stiff or hardened area and thus you kind of create this wonky shape. So the shape of your body that you’re bringing to this the 75 percent or 85 percent is more what makes the turbulent flow. So Alignment Matters is a call for really maybe looking at the stiffness of your body or the limitations to that full mobility and maybe even the motions that you’re using to create that 75 or 85 percent so that it’s doesn’t then create this extra turbulence in your blood. So it’s like don’t only think of your heart needing to be at this certain heart rate. There’s other things to think about. So if a person is leading a movement rich life, is already working on a lot of mobility and is looking for those sedentary areas in their body, is already doing in the Hadza study, those small minutes, I think it was 18-20 minutes that was the high-intensity work that’s being done.I’m having to pull off the top of my head, I would say maybe 40 minutes of medium intensity within 200 minutes or 300 minutes of light activity. So that would be the context in I guess hunter-gatherer tribes that can be gathered now that have fairly minimal heart disease. Which turbulent flow would be I would say most considered in people who already have risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Turbulent flow I would not imagine would be a huge issue.  And so, again, I am interested in the movements that are associated – the movement of the heart and lungs that are associated with 75-85 percent, more than I am interested in the 75-85 percent itself. So you will see all of that in the next book – which is not coming anytime soon but it will be a place to kind of start synthesizing – that’s really Alignment Matters, Move Your DNA, and Movement Matters.  Because Movement Matters is really talking about the variables that you’ve chosen to pull out for scientific investigation are often informing the public whether they know it or not, how they’re supposed to shape their behavior. So I do have a paper coming out on this. I will let everyone know when it is out. To talk about we have kind of focused on the whole body state of 75-85 percent or any percentage when you talk about the heart and less about the geometries that coexist between the heart and the lungs and the adaptations of those tissues, both the arteries and also all the musculature both smooth and musculoskeletal that adapt to those sorts of movements. So that was kind of a long answer. Hopefully you can find what you were looking for somewhere in there.



The second question is:”Katy, I’ve been investigating breathing recently. How we breathe, in which patterns do we breathe, how should we do that to activate correct muscle and the impact on the pelvic floor and diastasis recti. I’ve been also thinking about it in terms of bracing (holding my breath during gym activities – for instance squatting with load). I have not found any information about it on your website. Maybe it could be an idea for a podcast?” from Agata in Poland.


So that is a beautiful question and it relates very much to what I just answered for Kendra. And that is, again, there is a lot of understanding now that core musculature, pelvic floor musculature, bracing – so that could be lumbar spine stability – that this is all part of how we’re breathing. And also I think a lot of modalities have looked at taking the situation that you are in and changing your breath to elicit a better response in the scenario that you are in. Where I have a little different perspective where I would say what I believe is happening is that we are so sedentary that our heart and lungs, which are used together have kind of like – what if you considered cardiovascular disease or breathing difficulties more as a repetitive use issue?  Meaning that those parts themselves and then all of the parts that go into the systems that are your cardiovascular system and your respiratory system, what if we recognized that in a sedentary context they pretty much do the same thing all day long which is just what I’m doing right now which is breathing a little bit. My demand for oxygen is not very high because I’m not doing very much. Podcasting is not a cardiovascular exercise and my arms are down by my side and I need such little volume that I don’t have to invoke very much muscle to really increase the volume of my thoracic cavity. And so there are many modalities that maybe have recognized that the need for different breathing shapes or different breathing rates have positive health outcomes. So many people pursue breathing exercises as a means to well being. So it’s breath taken outside of a natural response context. Meaning breath and the variation of breath, and the variation of heart rate, are in response to doing something. They have to be in response to you increasing your demand for oxygen. And the demand to get it to where it needs to go quickly. And it’s like we’ve come up with these vitamin solutions without really recognizing that maybe we just need to move more, move more frequently, move more of ourselves, load our bodies in lots of different ways, and much more strenuously than we have now, and the result of that would be a much greater diversity of movements of the heart and lungs themselves. I would say that when you get into breathing while you are doing something that requires quite a bit of strength, you will find that quite naturally you’re engaging your pelvic floor and your trunk in response because the natural response to something of great load is for your body to recruit lots of parts to be able to get it done. What we’re doing now is still standing there, let’s say me podcasting, but then now trying to figure out how to tense certain muscles, and get my pelvic floor to kind of contract and response to this breath but I’m not doing anything. And as we start to slowly piece together the way movement works, it’s really important to keep in mind that the issue is a sedentary context. that it’s a sedentary culture.  So when we have solutions or scientific understandings or mechanical theories, that we check the assumptions or I guess maybe the bias to make sure that we’re not saying this is how something works full stop. That we can kind of understand that this is the body’s response to this more naturally and this is us trying to recreate it. So I’ll be expanding upon this in the book as well as on the heart because, again, those two things go together. And it’s why people – when you get your arms over your head and you’re hanging from a bar sometimes people go, “I can barely breathe.” And it’s like “yes because you never breathe in that shape.” Breathing is a giant category of moves and you have probably just done one very narrow breath, very narrow heart rate, over and over and over again. So clinically, corrective exercise and there are a lot of programs that try to get all of these pieces to coordinate. Kind of similar to a kegel exercise, right, where you have a pelvic floor weakness and you want to add some tension that’s supposed to be there. That’s the right place for the tension but the means is to go about and not change the movement habits but just try to tense the part. Where natural tension would develop were there just a lot more movement. Where at this stage I think it is way less confusing and way more supportive of a much more movement rich either understanding or lifestyle, to recognize that I think what we’re going to need here is things that challenge our breath in lots of various positions and situations and load. Where the byproduct is naturally that strength in the pelvic floor, or the torso, the mobility in the shoulders, etc. So hopefully that was helpful, Agata. Thank you.

So the second question was brought to you today especially by UnShoes minimal sandals which I love. Out of all my minimal shoes they are the most minimal. And I travel a lot as many of you know. And I was pulled over by TSA, which is our United States airport security because my shoes were too small. And this was after I had taken off my very tiny shoes and put them through the x-ray machine. I was told that my shoes were too small for the machine and had to be hand-inspected so I do like to give them a little shout out for making them so minimal they actually require a human being search them for safety. So thanks to UnShoes for always keeping me and my feet happy.


And also thanks to everyone else in the collective:  Earthrunners, another favorite minimal sandal, Venn Design, maker of beautiful dynamic living space decor, MyMayu outdoor boots for kids, including my kids, and SoftStar shoes which keep us all in shoes.  For more information on these companies go to the show notes, click listen, click podcast transcripts. They’re linked at the top of the notes.


Ok, it is now time to introduce our very special guest. As I mentioned before, I’ve been interviewing a lot of experts and as weird as it feels to say, I’m also considered an expert so when you tune into this show you’re hearing a lot of experts’ ideas about movement.


Well, today I have a very special guest interview that is the truest expert on your movement.  This is someone who knows everything about your – yes YOUR – personal movement history and potential. This is someone who spent a lifetime understanding your – yes YOUR – particular movement patterns. Can you guess who it is? That’s right. I’m interviewing your mom! Just kidding. It’s you. You are today’s special guest interview because you yourself are an expert in your own movement. So here’s the thing: Expertise is helpful and necessary even. In our culture we have many people committing a significant portion of their lifetime to gathering facts about one thing or a narrow element of one thing. Then the expert gathers an understanding that can be summarized and shared with anyone who wants to also learn about that one thing, but without dedicating their entire life to it. We learn a lot from experts and I’m grateful for their work. In fact, our culture would at this point completely collapse without experts. I read this quote which is commentary in Paul Ehrlich book The Dominant Animal.  And the quote reads:  “With agriculture’s food surplus, specialization took off. Inuits that Ehrlich once studied had a culture that was totally shared; everyone knew how everything was done.In high civilization, no one grasps a millionth of current cultural knowledge.” We don’t. We have to share it with each other or we’ll go without even our most basic technology like flush toilets and electricity, let alone our incredibly advanced technologies. However, an expert is not necessarily equivalent to an authority. An expert is drenched in facts, beautiful facts, but an authority has power. And when it comes to human movement, as well as many other things, I’d suggest that everyone is their own authority. We’ve outsourced knowing about most things, but when it comes to movement – YOUR movement – nobody knows how you’re doing, or how you want or need to do it, and no one has the power to make you do it – more than you do. So today, I invite you to refer your questions and wonder about movement not to me or any other expert, but to yourself, the expert and authority on you. So chances are you’ve set time aside time to listen to my thoughts on movement today. So I’d like to give that space you’re giving me back to you, to listen to your own thoughts. Today you and I are going to go on a walk where you can mull on your expert answers to some questions. And if you’re already out walking, you’re basically trapped. So here we go.



I have some questions for you, the expert, the authority. You can answer in your head. You can mutter aloud or share with a friend. You can leave a comment on my Instagram with your answers. Most importantly, recognize your own knowledge of and power over your movement. And thank you so much for being my mystery guest today. Here are my questions for you.


Are you moving the way you want to be moving?


In which areas of your body or life have you begun to move better, and in which areas do you still desire to move more?


What changes can you make in your life, to meet your needs?


And I know that you’re not going to want to rewind this so I’m just going to read them one more time.  


Are you moving the way you want to be moving?


In which areas of your body or life have you begun to move better, and in which areas do you still desire to move more?


And what changes can you make in your life, to meet your needs?



Alright. Let’s go.



Footsteps walking in nature.

Leaves crunching.  

Katy saying Hi to passers-by.

Birds chirping and calling!

Wind in the microphone.

Dogs barking.

Car driving by.

Chickens?  Turkey gobbling?

Muffled talking.

Planes overhead?

Katy says hello to someone.

Car keys jingling.  Car door opening and closing.




KATY: Hey!  Friend! Thank you for being my guest on this episode of Move Your DNA. I have loved spending this time with you and holding this space. I hope you realize that you yourself have many, if not most, of the answers you seek.  Thank you for spending one hundred bouts of movement – which includes listening movements – with me. I’m endlessly grateful.




VOICEOVER: 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.


Music fade.



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