Your body is a remarkable thing – enjoy it

26 July, 2012

We interfere with nature at our peril. Even when we do it with the best intentions.

I could be talking about genetic modification. The notion of building better plants by fooling around, in what is actually a very crude way, with life’s building blocks is certainly a good example.

But I was actually thinking of the recent rush of studies on exercise and sport this week to coincide with the London Olympics.

One claims that lack of exercise is now a global epidemic – as damaging to our health as smoking. Another challenges the commercial mythology of ‘sports products’ that claim to enhance performance.

Exercise, like so much of life has been co-opted by multinational corporations, by makers of sports accessories that purport to give nature a helping hand, but which in reality can interfere either physically or psychologically with our natural urge to be active.

We are meant to use our bodies. They are built to bend and twist and stretch. To run and skip and walk. To breathe hard and to sweat.

But before most of us can get there we have to negotiate hurdle after hurdle of expensive gym memberships, sports drinks for pre-sport, during sport and after sport recovery, muscle building powders and potions, branded clothing made from magical hi-tech fabrics, sport watches, pedometers, heart rate monitors, iPod holders and ergonomically designed sports shoes.

And that’s before we get into the high-end equipment like racing bikes that we absolutely have to have in order to get the best from exercise. Is it any wonder we are stupefied into just sitting and watching?

How wonderful, then, to see a study on the benefits of bare-foot running. Wearing trainers it found, significantly alters our natural gait and causes us to expend unnecessary energy whilst running. Although focused on elite athletes, there is a message here for all of us.

Whenever you can, forget the gadgets and the fashion. The human body is remarkable, that means your body is remarkable. Indeed our bodies may be the most remarkable thing any of us will ever own. In this Olympic season and beyond, don’t just watch. Participate. Get out there, use your body, love it, have a conversation with it about what it needs to stay healthy – and watch how it responds when it receives it. But most of all, enjoy it.

Pat Thomas, Editor