Episode 184 – Must Reads: Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman

Written by Jonathan

Today is a must-reads episode! We’re covering Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman. Move Your DNA is an interesting take on human physiology and at the very least draws some interesting correlations between movement and your overall health – not just in terms of physiology, like reducing chance of heart disease or diabetes, but also how movement affects your bone structure, the way your muscles pull on your joints and even how movement can affect your organs. It’s a book based on movement that I can really get behind, so let’s get to it.

When people first started roaming around the world, there were no modern luxuries that we’re accustomed to today. There was no running water that came out of a fawcett, no toilet to sit on, we had to gather and hunt for all of our food from the high tree tops and low bushes or use spears and arrows while tracking and chasing an animal down which could take hours or even days and would require us to move, literally, billions of different ways through the course of a day. Just take a few seconds and consider how much less you’re required to move just from the few examples I gave you.   

If we go back to our caveman context, when you move in so many different ways all your muscles get developed relatively evenly, your joints are constantly being taken through their full range of motion, you tend to move not only effectively, but also efficiently.  What would these mean for you?  

You wouldn’t have to worry as much about hurting yourself by doing the same repetitive motion over and over again, you wouldn’t need to worry about holding one single position for hours at a time and your body would stay toned and limber as you age.

As our society becomes more and modernized we lose many of these naturally occurring movement patterns.  When these patterns get lost, many different issues start to come up –  shoulders that roll forward, constant low back pain, hip and knee pain that make it even harder to move, which only perpetuates this downward cycle.  When your everyday life lacks the type of movement our hunter-gatherer ancestors used, it doesn’t only affect us at a visual and macro musculoskeletal level, it can literally change our DNA. And that is the premise of this book.

Initially when I started reading this book, I thought it was going to be “How your body adapts through movement from a physiological perspective”. To a certain extent that’s what it’s about, but really, this book shows you how you can use movement to put demands on your body to help your body adapt in different and more efficient ways.

Bowman does a really good job of using metaphors and examples to her points. For example, you have approximately 100 muscles in your foot, 100 which I didn’t even know, now think of how often you use your feet, to walk, run, curl your toes, when was the last time you picked something up in your feet, do you wear a heavy cushioned shoe or high heels. Just your feet alone don’t get anywhere near as much movement as they used to. Most people take less than 5000 steps a day, wear heavily cushioned shoes, hand have never consciously moved their feet in any sort of way, yet lots of people have foot problems and everyone at least knows someone that ‘needs’ orthotics.

There are many different studies and examples highlighted throughout the book including a correlation between women that wear overly supported bras and breast cancer and how there isn’t really a strong correlation between being overweight and having knee problems. As well there are a few chapters devoted to the tactical how to get more movement into your day without hitting the gym or doing what we would call a structured exercise program.  

The biggest takeaway I got was this, move as much as possible, in as many different ways as possible and it will help you be the healthiest version of yourself, and if you want to know why it’s so important and some strategies to get it done, pick up the book Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman, it will help change the way you think about movement and exercise.

If you know someone that could use a little nudge to maybe move just a little bit more please share this with them, we’re on a mission to help as many people as possible live longer, happier and healthier lives and we need your help to get the message out.



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