NF Blog/Book Summaries/Built to Move

Saturday, March 02, 2024

Built to Move

Summary and action steps for "Built to Move: The 10 essential habits that will help you live a longer, healthier life" by Julie and Kelly Starrett.

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This summary is available in audio via the podcast on most major platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Built to Move

The 10 essential habits that will help you live a longer, healthier life

"Built to Move" by Julie and Kelly Starrett emphasizes the importance of physical mobility and overall well-being. It provides practical tips and tests to assess and improve “vital signs” such as flexibility, breath, movement, nutrition, and sleep for a healthier and more active life.

Vital sign 1: Getting up and down off the floor

Children often sit on the floor effortlessly, but as adults, we rely on chairs, which can lead to tight hips, hamstrings, and back and knee pain. To counteract this, aim to spend at least 30 minutes each day sitting on the floor in various positions.

The Sit-and-Rise test is a simple yet effective way to assess our physical well-being. It evaluates hip mobility, leg and core strength, balance, and coordination and is a key indicator of health and longevity.

To perform the test, cross one leg over the other and lower yourself to the floor, then rise back up without using your hands. Your score indicates your mobility, with a perfect score being ten. Scores between three and six indicate room for improvement, while seven to nine is good.

After a week of practice, retake the Sit-and-Rise test.

Vital sign 2: Breath easy

The Breath-Hold Test, also known as the BOLT Test, assesses your CO2 tolerance level, which is crucial for how well your body utilizes oxygen. The longer you can comfortably hold your breath, the better your body is at handling CO2 and using oxygen efficiently. This directly impacts your energy levels.

To perform the BOLT Test, sit or stand comfortably and inhale normally through your nose. After exhaling normally, pinch your nose and start a timer. Hold your breath until you feel a significant urge to breathe again. An ideal result is between 30 to 40 seconds, while 20 is acceptable. If your score falls below 10, it's essential to prioritize breathwork.

Breathing well involves three key aspects: spacious breathing, nasal breathing (even during exercise), and slow breathing. Proper breathing enhances lung capacity, endurance, and activates the rest-and-relaxation response in your body.

To improve your breathing, start by becoming aware of how you breathe throughout the day. Aim for big, slow breaths through your nose. Additionally, establish a morning routine of sitting or lying down and practicing deep, slow nose breathing for two minutes, eventually progressing to three to five rounds. This practice can also double as a form of meditation, promoting overall well-being.

Vital sign 3: Extend your hips

Sitting for long hours causes our hips to be stuck in a flexed position, reducing our ability to extend them fully. This limitation affects activities like walking, running, and even getting up from the floor.

The couch stretch is both a test and a daily practice to improve hip extension. To start, you'll need a clear wall and floor space along with a cushion to protect your knees. Begin on all fours with your toes touching the wall. One knee should rest on the cushion at the wall-floor intersection, with your shin against the wall and toes pointing down. Your other knee stays on the ground, and your hands remain on the floor. This is Step 1.

Step 2 involves raising the free knee and placing your foot on the ground while keeping the other knee at the floor-wall intersection. Step 3 is to raise your torso fully upright. Achieving this position without discomfort indicates good hip extension.

If you can only complete Step 1 or 2, you have an opportunity to enhance your hip mobility. If Step 1 is uncomfortable, you can try the same sequence on a couch, placing one knee on the couch seat and the other foot on the floor.

Engage in the Couch Stretch regularly, gradually working up to 3 to 5 minutes. Remember to breathe deeply and engage your glutes throughout the stretch to unlock better hip mobility.

Vital sign 4: Walk this way

One of the vital signs of your health is your daily step count, and it's essential to assess and practice this regularly. Walking 8,000 to 10,000 steps each day, equivalent to around 4-5 miles, with half of it coming from daily activities, is the recommended goal.

Sitting for extended periods is detrimental to health. Avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes at a stretch.

Walking strengthens your joints and bones, enhances circulation, improves sleep, mood, and memory. Walking 8,000 steps a day burns twice as many calories as running three times a week. Incorporating steps into your daily routine can be creative – walk to school, talk on the phone while walking, or practice nose breathing while strolling.

Quality of steps also counts. Ensure your ankles align with your heels and maintain an arch between the ball and heel of your foot. Choose flat shoes or go barefoot to improve foot mechanics.

Vital sign 5: Future-proof your neck and shoulders

Address issues related to shoulder and neck discomfort, especially in the context of modern lifestyles involving prolonged sitting and screen time.

There are several tests you can do to check your shoulder mobility.

To do the shoulder mobility test, lie facedown on the floor with your arms extended straight in front of you, holding a lightweight object like a PVC pipe, broomstick, or rolled-up dish towel. Lift your arms as high as possible while keeping your forehead and belly on the floor.

The shoulder rotation test evaluates your shoulder's rotational strength and isometric ability. Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and your arms bent at 90-degree angles, palms facing up. Try to press the backs of your wrists and hands into the floor, assessing the force you can generate.

Isometric exercises are effective in improving neck pain. Stiffness and a lack of mobility in muscles can occur when an area is not used for extended periods.

Vital sign 6: Eat like you’re going to live forever

Eating well is essential for moving well. Instead of following overly restrictive diets, eat nutritious foods you love. Focus on two key components: protein and micronutrients.

1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, with higher goals for active athletes.

Consume 800 grams of fruits and vegetables daily. Fresh, cooked, canned, or frozen options are acceptable, but avoid fried or processed versions. Potatoes and legumes count, while dried fruits and fried vegetables do not.

To meet these targets, plan your meals and snacks in advance, ensuring you have nutritious options readily available. Include a fistful of protein-rich foods like fish, meat, or beans in every meal.

Vital sign 7: Squat!

Squatting is a vital sign of mobility and health. It is a natural for humans but often overlooked in Western culture.

Squatting has various benefits, including improving hip, knee, and ankle range of motion, helping to avoid lower back pain, and enhancing balance and stability.

The ideal squat position involves feet parallel, toes pointing forward, and hips well below the knees. The torso can lean forward for balance.

Assess your squatting ability by gradually working through different squat positions. Aim to spend time in the deep squat position daily.

Vital Sign 8: Find your balance

Balance affects various aspects of mobility and can be improved with practice.

It depends on three main systems: the inner ear (vestibular system), proprioception (sensory receptors in muscles and joints), and eyesight.

To improve balance, do jumping exercises, such as jumping rope. Jumping exercises are also beneficial for heart health, blood circulation, and calorie burning. Jumping is also an effective warm-up for other workouts.

Maintaining strong and sensitive feet is also important. Cushioned shoes may limit the input necessary for building balance. Go barefoot and use minimalistic footwear.

Vital sign 9: Create a movement-rich environment

Be aware of and actively reduce prolonged sitting. Practical strategies include self-assessment, utilizing standing desks, incorporating regular movement, and employing active seating options.

Vital sign 10: Unleash your superpower: Sleep

Prioritize your sleep, aiming for seven to nine hours per night. Poor sleep can lead to numerous health problems, while restful sleep enhances performance and overall well-being.

To improve your sleep, stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends. Stay active during the day and avoid late-day caffeine. Ensure your sleeping environment is quiet, cool, and dark. Disconnect from technology and bright lights a couple of hours before bedtime.

If you enjoyed this summary and want to read the entire book: Click here to get it.

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