Fitness, Fascia And Fun
Research shows that living a sedentary lifestyle decreases your life span by seven years. That’s a lot! If that fact does not motivate you to get up and exercise, listen to this episode as Dr. Trish Murray lays out the facts on how our body is designed to move and live actively. She elaborates about fascia and its connection to your physical, mental, and emotional health. Stop making excuses and start moving! Catch her tips on the small steps you can do right now, even right there in your chair, to improve your mobility and balance.
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Fitness, Fascia And Fun
Welcome to this talk entitled Fitness, Fascia and Fun. What I would like to focus on is exactly the title. First of all, I want to talk about fitness, movement and exercise, and what is the research showing about these things. One of the biggest things it’s showing is we’ve got to move. We’ve got to move multiple times a day in some way that is fun, flowing and enjoyable. We’re going to be talking about the research and what it shows about fitness and the highlights and pearls about what is the best type of exercise and movement. Besides that, I’m going to be talking about fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue in your body. I’m going to elaborate on that more and more when we get to that section.
First of all, exercise or movement is not just for those who can but for those of you and anyone out there that thinks you can’t. We all can move in some way. We do not have to be standing to do it. We could even be laying down and moving. The point is we all can move, no matter what our state of health or structure. You need to ask yourself these questions. What is possible with my body now? Two, what type of movement do I find fun? Exercise is not going to happen unless you enjoy it. Finally, another question to ask yourself is how can I keep moving more freely, more fully, and in a joyful and fun way? Ask yourself these questions. What would you put at the top of the list to answer these questions?
Balance is extremely important to our overall health and to not get injured, especially as we age. Astronauts that return to Earth from the zero gravity of space have trouble walking. We’ve been able to study them a bit. The idea that they walk with a wide-based gait and a waddle like older people as we age, and why? The vestibular system which is deep in our ears is what helps us with our balance and our equilibrium. When people are out of the Earth’s gravity, then the vestibular system atrophies in that lack of gravity. Astronauts, being obviously healthy or they wouldn’t have gone to space in the first place, regain their balance in only a couple of weeks by practicing standing multiple times per day on one foot. This is the way to maintain and increase your balance, is to actually practice, by standing on one foot, each foot one at a time three times per day with your eyes closed.
Let’s make sure you understand that this is not easy to do. When you stand on one foot with your eyes open, you have multiple systems of your body, your nervous system and your visual system, helping you maintain your balance. When you close your eyes, you take away your central nervous system’s ability to help you with what’s called proprioception or your balance. Be very careful when you start doing this. You will notice that, “I can lift one foot up and stand just fine on one foot with my eyes open,” and maybe you can’t because your balance does need work. You get really wobbly right away even with your eyes open. When you close your eyes, that wobbliness and that imbalance is going to become even worse. What I strongly recommend you do, especially when you first play with this and work with this, is to have some support right near your hands. “Exercise or movement is not just for those who can but for those out there that think they can’t.”
I’ve even taught people to take a chair, like a kitchen chair, and put the backside of the chair closest to you, with a hand on the back of the chair. Take another chair and put it next to you close to you on the other side. You could have your right hand on the back of one chair and your left hand on the back of another chair, and you’re holding on. What you would do is lift your hands so you’re not holding on and stand up on one foot. See how that goes with your eyes open. Go ahead and close your eyes and see how that goes. If you need to, place your hands down and support yourself. You could also do it close to a wall or near a banister, but the big point here is this could be dangerous as when you first start. Start out with some support near you and put the other foot down. You may get your balance so off that you would fall if you don’t have support. Work up. Start with ten seconds, work up to fifteen seconds, work up to twenty seconds, with the goal of being able to stand on one foot with your eyes closed for 30 seconds. Switch and stand on the other foot for 30 seconds with your eyes closed and you’re done. Go on with the rest of your day and then do that again two other times throughout your day. You will see over a couple of weeks to a month, your balance is significantly improved.
Sedentariness or sedentary jobs in health. Research is showing that nonstop sitting all day long is extremely unhealthy as we already know. Many of us go to the gym or go out and walk or go out for a run or go out and exercise for let’s say up to as much as an hour of aerobic or some type of activity a day. The research is showing that even if you exercise for one hour before or after your long day at work, this still increases the risk of multiple chronic issues such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and decreases a person’s life expectancy by as much as seven years. That’s a lot of time that we’re going to lose out on if we don’t move. We’ve got to move in order to fight against disease. I understand that many of our jobs are sedentary but there are options now that you could be thinking about.
One is sit on an exercise ball. I sit on an exercise ball in my office. I will tell you that at first, I could not sit on that ball for an entire day because it was too uncomfortable. I sat on it almost like when you put an orthotic in your shoe and they tell you to only wear it for an hour at first and work your way up. Do the same concept with the ball. Sit on an exercise ball only for an hour or so and then change back to a chair. Each day, increase the length of time in which you sit on the ball and see if you’re able to increase to the entire day. Variety is good, too. They do make exercise balls with stands where the ball is not going to be moving around underneath you much. It even has a back to it and it still would show benefit to your postural muscles. An exercise ball is a great thing to think about. Other than that, stand up. Stand up every fifteen minutes and maybe do a little calisthenic and sit back down. Even that would make a difference in what they’re referring to here with sedentary jobs. Finally, another option is what are called adjustable desks where you could be moving your desk up and standing while you work. Move the desk an hour later back down to the sitting position. You could be playing with that variety all day long. All of these are options to consider.
Exercise for those who out there do not like competition does not have to be competitive. Research is showing that competitive exercise isn’t even the best form of exercise. This longitudinal study of people greater than 75 years old conducted over a period of 21 years by Albert Einstein College of Medicine looked at all sorts of activities that people did as they age and movements. The number one physical activity that reduced the rates of dementia was actually partner dancing. Partner dancing lowered the risk of dementia by as much as 76%. It’s theorized that first of all, the hippocampus in our brain is where our learning and our memory stays. If you’re constantly moving, reacting, repeating and responding to a partner in dance, you also have to memorize the movement. You’ve got memory, you’ve got creativity, you’ve got response to another human being. These are huge aspects of keeping the hippocampus exercised and strong.
Also, dancing requires a need for making rapid decisions. If your partner goes one way, you’ve got to go the other and so on. This interactive rapid decision making is also going to keep the hippocampus active and strong. Social interaction. As a member of Discover Health, you know that to be amongst the community and to be amongst your family, to be amongst your friends has always brought you joy. We are social beings. To be isolated, research has shown, increases inflammatory markers. To go out and dance and to partner dance or even just dance with a big group, is a positive thing for your health. Finally, it’s going to affect your balance and your coordination to dance with a partner.
Let’s shift now to a discussion of fascia. First of all, what is fascia? Fascia is the connective tissue of your body. I am a specialist with the musculoskeletal system and the connective tissue. Fascia is dear to my studies and my heart. It’s what I love to try and understand more and more. Fascia, the connective tissue in your body, is one of only three holistic systems in your body. There are only three. The first one that we’ve studied quite a bit is the nervous system. The brain and all the nerves of the brain and then the nerves that go out through your entire body. The second holistic system in our bodies is the cardiovascular system: the heart, the veins, the arteries and so forth. If you took these systems out of your body and you made a three-dimensional model, it would look exactly like you as an individual. There’s one other system that you can do this with and only one. That is the fascia, the connective tissue of your body.
We have studied in depth the nervous system and the cardiovascular system. There have only been, in the history of medicine, four International Fascia Congresses ever where the scientists, the physicians and the people who focus on the connective tissue of the body have come together and shared what we know with each other about the fascia. The first one that ever happened was held in 2005. Fascia is extremely important. Andrew Taylor Still was the Founder of osteopathic medicine. He wrote in 1899, over a hundred years before the first International Fascia Congress and the Philosophy of Osteopathy, this quote, unbelievably ahead of his time, “The fascia proves itself to be the probable matrix of life and death. Beginning with the mucous membrane, penetrating all parts to supply and renovate the fluids of life, and nourishing all the nerves of nutrition and assimilation. When harmonious in normal action, health is good. When perverted, disease is destructive unto death.” We’ve got to move, we’ve got to keep our connective tissue fluid, lubricated, pure and clean. Dr. Still knew this way before its time or anyone else seemed to realize the importance of this.
Another quote by Dr. Still to help you understand the fascia and the connective tissue of your body is, “As the student of anatomy explores the subject under his knife during dissection and under the microscope, he easily finds this membrane, the fascia. He finds that this membrane goes with and covers all muscles, tendons and fibers, and separates them even to the least fiber. All organs have covering of this fascial substance, though they may have names to suit the organs, surfaces or parts spoken of.” Every organ in your body, every nerve, every vessel, every muscle, every organ, whether that be the heart, the kidneys, the liver, the intestines, every single organ in your system is covered by fascia, your connective tissue. It is a three-dimensional holistic system of our bodies. Back to the quote, “A knowledge of the universal extent of the fascia is imperative, and is one of the greatest aids to the person who seeks cause of disease. That the fascia and its nerves demand his attention first, and on his knowledge of the same, much of his success, and the life of his patients do depend.”
Fascia is the ultimately most important aspect of your connective tissue that we move with every single day. Fascia is one, the primary connective tissue of the body. Let’s show you some of the other significance of the fascia. Two, fascia is the master designer of your body. When any egg in the uterus of a woman is fertilized by a sperm and the fetus starts to develop, the nervous system starts to develop. Basically, that nervous system is surrounded by the fascia. It is the fascia and the connective tissue of the fascia that starts to fold, unwind and create the master design of which the nerves, the vessels, the bones, the muscles and all the organs are going to develop into the fascia that’s showing it the way. For example, when a fetus is developing, we use the term that a limb bud has developed. A bud develops and then the limb starts to grow and develop into that bud. Guess what the bud is made from? The bud is the fascia. The fascia buds out and starts to show the rest of the parts of the body to grow and develop into the fascial system.
Number three, fascia is made primarily from a chemical structure called collagen. Collagen’s chemical structure is universally repetitive. It’s similar to crystals which have a very repetitive and simple, unique structure. When you have structures that are simple and repetitive like that, energy can flow through that repetitiveness very simply as a system upon which the energy can flow. Energy flows in the fascia. It’s like a secondary nervous system and it has meridians in it. The meridians in your fascia are what acupuncturists are putting their needles into. They put through the skin and down into the fascia, so your fascia is where the acupuncture meridians lie. Those meridians are where the energy is flowing in our bodies and that’s what the needles are interacting with. The other thing is that our connective tissue is like a spider web, a web or a matrix throughout our entire system. Again, it flows with energy. It goes into every cell.
We used to think of a cell as a round cell with a membrane. We thought that inside the cell was just fluid and then outside the cell was the extracellular matrix. It didn’t touch the cell or go into the cell. We have learned that that’s not right, that the extracellular matrix or skeleton goes to the membrane of the cell. It attaches and goes through it inside the cell, the intracellular space. The intracellular space is not fluid. It has fluid in it, there’s the gel, the cytosol and the gel-like substance within every cell, but also, it has a cytoskeleton. The extracellular matrix goes to the membrane and goes down through the cell as still the same web or matrix, and that matrix continues and attaches, too. The nucleus of the cell also has a nuclear membrane. Down into the nucleus is where your genes live in your chromosomes. This fascial skeleton in your body that is completely holistic and completely three-dimensional goes all the way down into your genes. When you move, you flow and you exercise, you are communicating all the way down into your genetics, a positive healthy messaging.
Number four, the fascia is also where the body, the mind and the spirit meet. Have you ever heard of someone talk about exercising or getting a massage or getting some sort of osteopathic manipulation or any type of physical therapy and all of a sudden either break out in a really happy emotion or break out in some sad emotion as a result of the therapy just spontaneously out of the blue? Physical trauma, negative thoughts and emotions can get stuck in your fascia. They can make your fascia thick, dense and tight. The opposite of that, positive, joyful feelings, thoughts and emotions, and movement can make your fascia loose, lubricated, flowing and healthy. We now know that epigenetics, the science above the genes, is what affects whether certain genes get turned on or certain genes get kept quiet. If you don’t want negative disease processes that you might have a genetic risk for to come up, you’ve got to keep your fascia healthy and your whole being healthy. Science now knows through studying the fascia that massage, manipulation, movement, exercise is absolutely playing in when you move from your skin and your muscles all the way down into your genetics. We must move.
Let’s talk about some specific pearls around movement. We’ve talked about choosing something fun. We’ve talked about the fact that you’ve got to move, and you’ve got to move based on what your body will allow. Exercise is not just for those who can but for those who think they can’t. You could be doing exercise sitting in a chair. You can be doing high-intensity exercise from a chair or even from a stool or a chair or holding on to something. Evidence and research are showing more and more that we need to work and exercise our cardiovascular system, our heart. We also need to work our muscles and increase the strength of our muscles. We are realizing more and more that hormones such as growth hormone are affected by the intensity of the level of exercise you do.
Also, remember that exercise is stress. We don’t want to have high-intensity stress that’s ongoing continuously for long periods of time. The best type of interval training exercise is to have only 20 or 30 seconds of a really high-intense type of movement then followed by a gentler type of movement for up to anywhere from 60 to 90 seconds. Increase the intensity again for 20 to 30 seconds and then decrease the intensity for 60 to 90 seconds. You increase intensity, lower intensity, increase intensity, lower intensity. Eight cycles of this once or twice a week will increase your growth hormone, will increase your metabolism, will improve weight loss, will improve your cardiovascular health and will improve your brain function. Research has shown that this is the type of exercise or cycles of exercise to be considering. If you’ve ever heard of Dr. Mercola. He’s been an integrative medicine doctor out there for many years. He was one of the first and he has huge numbers of people to his website every day.
We’ve got to maintain our muscle, we’ve got to maintain our strength. From the age of about 30, we start to lose our muscle mass and before 30, we’re still building it. When we get sick, we’ve got to have enough muscle and protein to develop the antibodies against the bugs or to help us heal. We’ve got to maintain and build muscle. If you don’t exercise, you don’t do any weight resistance-type of exercise, you’re not going to build your proteins, you’re not going to build your muscle. Weight resistance exercise has also been shown to improve cognitive abilities, to improve energy and it fights against disease.
Many of us think that we have to work out every single day for hours and hours. That is not true. If you can create one session a week where you do twenty minutes of weight resistance exercise, that’s where I would start. Even start with one ten-minute session a week and then build up from there with the goal of only one or two twenty-minute sessions per week. That’s it. You don’t need to do any more than that. You can go to a gym, you could have weights at your home, or you could even be moving around in your day in your office. You could have a couple of dumbbells in your office and pick them up intermittently throughout your day and do a set of some exercises. Bodybuilding or weight resistance exercises are not rocket science. They are really basic repetitive movements that you do slowly and methodically. There is no rocket science to it and there’s not a lot of variety to it. Just learn how to do the basic movements, pick up the weights. You don’t have to have a weight in your hand, use resistance and your mind and intention. There are no excuses not to be doing these types of exercise and not moving.
In conclusion and summary, fascia is the universal connective tissue of your body and must be kept fluid and mobile. Two, fascia transmits and stores energy that can be physical, emotional or spiritual. Three, movement is imperative to maintain the health, hydration, fluidity, clarity and purification of one’s fascia to maintain your overall health of body, mind and spirit. Finally, this movement should be fun, enjoyable and nurturing. I hope this has empowered you to optimize your health. That truly is my mission, to help educate people so that you can learn more about how to find your way to health and wellness and feel as optimally healthy as you possibly can. Please go to my website and learn much more about the information you need and about the services we offer at my office. It’s DiscoverhealthFMC.Com . I also have my own curriculum or program I call the D.E.N.T. Curriculum, which is an acronym for Diet and Detox, Exercise, Nutrition and Treatment. I offer weekend conferences where anyone in the world can come and learn about how to put a dent in your chronic disease processes through exactly that. Please go to my website or give my office a call at (603) 447-3112 and learn more.
- Longitudinal study – article
- Discover Health
- International Fascia Congresses
- Dr. Mercola
- D.E.N.T. Curriculum