Bonding through movement

Today, a growing percentage of people find themselves alienated from any particular community, without strong bonds to any discernible group. Loneliness is on the rise. More people live alone, remain single or childless, move to new geographical locations on a regular basis, and otherwise fail to develop close ties. This is a shift that is unprecedented in human history.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/2020/04/muscular-bonding/

My pull-quote feels pretty obvious. What’s interesting is where Parrish goes in this article. There’s a lot of research and discussion around what happens to us—mentally and physically—when we move together. It’s not simply, “hey that was fun.” There’s a durable bonding that happens when humans move together.

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There may be something to this

Research now demonstrates that neuronal sensory integration actually happens much earlier in the sensory processing pathway and is actually optimized or heightened with multi-sensory stimulation, or what we call sensory stacking.

Sensory stacking is to bring in as many sensory input systems during an exercise or movement for the purpose of enhancing cortical stimulation and neuronal pathways.

~ Emily Splichal from, https://barefootstrongblog.com/2021/05/06/sensory-stacking-the-integration-of-tactile-visual-and-auditory-input/

Our entire schtick—whether you self-identify with Art du Déplacement, Parkour or Freerunning, or whatever—is moving in a visually complex environment. That turns out to have a physiological, brain altering affect.

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Connecting through movement

Even, a lot of times, those people who you’re not connecting with on a conversational level, you start moving together though— And you find a very deep connection. And now you’re moving in their world or they’re moving in yours, or whatever it is, but you found this other way to connect with somebody that you would have never known if you just worked with them or whatever the case may be.

~ Jonny Hart from, Art, coaching, and breaking jumps

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Sedantarism

Right now, “sedentary culture” is part of the broader, overarching culture, but subcultures—including our individual culture—can also be sedentary. These sedentary subcultures end up reinforcing the overarching culture, so what can we do? I’m (obviously) interested in working on sedentarism at the broadest cultural level, but I recognize that the most immediate benefits can be found by changing our personal culture. I’ve made working on sedentarism at this level part of my work as well.

~ Katy Bowman from, https://www.nutritiousmovement.com/changing-a-sedentary-culture/

Overall, the amount of activity [for Americans] has gone up slightly since the 1970s. The big issue is that our diet is killing us. Becoming more active alone isn’t enough—and Bowman’s take is nuanced, I’m not disagreeing with her article. But the first-order thing is diet. (I don’t mean “restriction” or “reduction” per se, I mean what specifically are you eating? That, “diet.”) That said, “eat better stuff” and “move around” is the prescription.

I’m reminded of, that room we all euphemistically call a living room: Would I call it my sedentary entertainment room, if I were honest? I realized that I should call it that, and so I rearranged the entire room, and got rid of the dedicated “tv” device. I still consume entertainment, but now it’s just one thing I can do in that room, rather than what the room is designed to be used for. We’ve done this, and continue to redo this occassionally, for every space inside and outside our home. For example: We don’t have a “second bedroom” nor “guest room”; We have [what we call] the “middle room”… and it’s got foam mats on the floor and random exercise, self-care, movement stuff… a finger-board over the door, a full-length mirror, a pull-up bar bolted into the ceiling, a chalk-board wall for tracking and notes… space for books. And the room also has a folding frame, air mattress, and bedding for the extremely rare guests who visit.

Frankly, there isn’t much in the way of “sedentary” left that I can trim out of my life. The vast majority of what I do is mental work. So I’m reading, writing and computing a lot. What’s left for me is to develop a healthy relationship to food. I get mental—over think, extreme thinking, stuck in my head… that sort of thing—and the way I’ve learned is the easiest escape is to run to entertainment. And to eat while being entertained. But, I’ve only learned that as being the easiest. There are a number of other things that also work to “fix” my thinking: Reading, writing, and physical activity can all work too. The hard part is changing my learned behavior. For me, it’s a matter of crafting my environment to encourage me to do things other than seek entertainment. (Learning to not mentally stress myself out would be even better, and I’m working on that too.)

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Is movement an integral part of my life?

It certainly is an integral part of life, in general. But the vast majority of my life does not involve movement. I probably move more than the average American my age. I certainly moved a lot more in my 20s when I had a job that involved doing things. (Make this, move that, go over there, etc.) But today, movement is something that—I don’t quite have to make time for it, but I definitely have to be mindful of it. I generally plan to do something every day. Usually that’s a multi-mile walk, a leisurely bike ride, an hour wrestling with firewood, etc..

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