Active Healthy Aging: A “Growth or Decay” Approach to Life – Show Notes


Show Notes:

Welcome to this week’s episode of AHA. I’m your co-host Coach Ken. Each week we will discuss practical health/fitness strategies and topics to help you regain, maintain, or improve your health and movement practice. Ultimately our goal is empower you to create a personal movement practice that will support your activities of daily living, make you fall resistant, and living independently for as long as possible.

Movement Practice Concept: The Four Pillars of Human Movement

Episode #1 we expanded the elements of fitness to include:

Cardio-respiratory Speed
Stamina Coordination
Strength Agility
Flexibility/Mobility Balance (static and dynamic)
Power Accuracy

In Episode #2 we discussed integrating your movement practice to include working in all three planes of motion: Forward/Backward, Lateral, Rotation

Today, we will look at the most fundamental movement patterns that all able-bodied humans need to perform regularly.

Early in my career, MENTORS: JC, Paul Chek, that categorized these four primary movement patterns or skills

Again, all able-bodied individuals need to be able to perform these basic functional movements:

These FOUR PILLARS of human movement answer the common question. What should I do for exercise?

If you always include these four types of movement in every workout, and work them in all three planes of motion, you will have a pretty well rounded program.

So here they are, the FOUR PILLARS of human movement.

  1. Gait/Locomotion: Walking or other human powered transportation from point A to Point B. Cycling, rowing running, skating, x-country skiing
  2. Level Changes: Squatting Deadlift
  3. Pushing/Pulling – 3 ways (high, horizontal, low)
  4. Rotation – Chopping/Lifting/Swinging

Once you have mastered these basics, you will be ready to start learning compound movements that incorporate several of these pillars in one movement.

I’ll be discussing this in our next episode.

Movement of the Week: Squat

The Squat, a fundamental human pattern that many folks in our culture have lost.

Sadly the inability to perform a variation of a squat like:
Sitting to standing – getting off a toilet set or out of a chair can land us in assisted living sooner than perhaps we need to.

One of the goals of this program series is to encourage you to create a movement practice that allows you to perform your ADL’s safely and efficiently.

We are anatomically designed to squat for eliminating wastes, giving birth, and even as a relaxed position to work in or play cards as in many Asian cultures. It’s interesting to note that in our culture, low back pain is very common, mostly due to spending 12-15 hours a day sitting. Back pain in squatting cultures (Asia) are rare occurrences.

If even the thought of squatting hurts your knees you may just not know how to properly load this position without pain.

In the last episode I spoke about the importance of learning to hinge at your hips for both squatting or deadlifting.

Let’s take the hip hinge movement one step further as the way to initiate a safe/efficient squat.

I’m going to offer you a couple of starting squat progressions to rediscover this primal human movement pattern. Did you know that most us as babies learning to stand, started in a squat position and one day just stood up.

Here are a few safe progressions for you to try before squatting with your body weight.

  1. Assisted Squat – Hanging on to a sink or secure railing, arms just for stability, focus on using your glutes.
  2. Sit to stand using a chair – Knees out, sweep your arms back
  3. Free Standing Body weight, eccentric lowering (4) hold two counts (just barely touch the chair), and then stand up

From here you can start adding weight in the form of dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells or other resistance objects.

Again, the key to a safe/efficient squat is initiating the movement by pushing your hips back (hip hinge), lowering down to as close to parallel thigh as possible. Check your knee position, they should not push forward past your front toes as you squat.

OK, now you know squat, at least you have a way to get started and reclaim this vital movement pattern.

Wellness Concept of the Week: Removing the Negatives

This gives us an opportunity to examine our vital health elements such as: nutrition, sleep patterns, the movements we choose to train and identify those obvious habits or patterns that we know aren’t helping us move toward optimal health. Many of us in modern society are seduced regularly by relentless marketing, that we just need to “add this or that” to our diet, sleep, or movement practice.
Removing the negatives will get us much quicker and lasting results than trying to add a so-called positive.

Our cultural weight loss obsession is a classic example of this where we are bombarded with ads for supplements, meal plans, and gadgets to lose unwanted weight.

The truth is by simply removing the major negative elements that you know are causing you to gain weight or remain stuck, your body will start to adapt to the reduction of empty calories. When you remove the negative of being chronically sedentary and start a regular walking or movement practice it will further support your body to find its optimal weight/composition.

So, bottom line, try not to fall for those late night infomercial ads selling lotions, potions, and gadgets. Take an honest assessment of your current habits as they relate to nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress and see where you might be able to remove a negative pattern that’s keeping you stuck.

Our Wellness Quote of the Week:

Lee Cockrell in his book Creating Magic:

“What if the way we had always done it was wrong?”

I believe it is healthy and necessary to critically question why we do what we are doing, especially in the arena of personal health and fitness.

It’s true that we humans predominately learn by watching and emulating others. Sometimes this can indeed be helpful but sometimes thinking for ourselves and determining whether something is appropriate for us might serve us better.

This requires us to trust our intuition and unfortunately many of us have abdicated our inner knowing for someone else to tell us what to do. I believe that most of us do know generally what actions lead us towards health and which are taking us towards disease or injury.

I believe there are lots of areas within the health/fitness arena that need to be questioned. Each and every one of us should be able to explain what we are doing (as in an exercise), demonstrate how to do the movement safely, and WHY we are even dong this movement.

As I mentioned before, most of us tend to learn by watching others which is neither good nor bad per se BUT just because your friend at the gym is doing an exercise doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for YOU.

Let’s see if we can bring a little critical thinking into the realm of health and fitness and not just mimic someone else because they have a buff body or they are very strong.

This week’s Regeneration Strategy: Cycling Duration, Frequency, and Load a Balancing Act.

Remember, regeneration strategies in general are designed to help us recover from exercise, whether it’s rest or sleep, or doing some soft tissue work on yourself like foam rollers. Regeneration is any activity that improves tissue quality, movement quality, and well being.

Manipulating variables in your training like duration, frequency, and load can help keep training fresh and not create pattern overloads which could lead to an injury.

This cycling of duration frequency, and load are components of “regeneration” that most folks don’t often consider. They generally understand that we require an interval of rest/recovery between exercises but what about manipulating elements like, Duration, Frequency, and Load on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Just as we can become stale by doing the same movement routine, same days of the week, over and over with the same loads, it can also effect our recovery.

In general, it is better to alternate longer and shorter training sessions. Make sure to vary the frequency of higher and lower intensity sessions, along with the loads you are using.

Generally, a higher volume day (sets) might require one hour, 2-3 days a week with fairly heavy loads (4-6 reps per set)

Lower volume days (sets) might require a half hour, 2 days a week with lighter loads and more reps i.e. 10-15 reps.

Remember, the body gets stronger during recovery or rest periods. That’s why it is important to cycle these different training variables to avoid overuse injuries, inadequate recovery, and stay mentally motivated to continue your training.

This week’s Fitness Truths, Half-Truths, or Lies:

“You need a day of rest between workouts. Talk to anyone that performs manual labor on a daily basis. “Hey boss I dug ditches yesterday”
Unless you re doing hardcore body building and working to complete fatigue this may not be accurate for you. If you’re starting to get the idea of working different planes of motion and incorporating as many of the elements of fitness as possible into your training there’s no reason you can’t train a little virtually everyday.

Fitness Fun Fact: Stone Lifting

While “farmers walks” (carrying 202 lb metal cylinders) are a regular event in the Highland Games, most gym goers don’t do “odd object” lifting. Historically lifting stones has been used in different societies to determine work hardiness.

For example, If you wanted to apprentice for a particular job, you had to lift a stone weight deemed sufficient to qualify you for the job. In Iceland, there was a rite of passage for young men to acknowledged as men and be able to wear a hat, they had to pick up a designated stone.

Stone lifting has also used to determine the suitability of a suitor for marriage. Now that puts a little pressure on the prospective suitor.

Well that’s it for this weeks Episode

Thanks for listening and as always,


The information and opinions expressed on this show are for informational and entertainment purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and/or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider regarding any medical issue you may be experiencing.


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