Welcome to Joy Lab!: Welcome to the Joy Lab podcast, where we help you uncover and foster your most joyful self. Your hosts, Dr. Henry Emmons and Dr. Aimee Prasek, bring you the ideal mix of soulful and scientifically sound tools to spark your joy, even when it feels dark. When you're ready to experiment with more joy, combine this podcast with the full Joy Lab program over at JoyLab.coach
Henry: Hello, I'm Henry Emmons And welcome to Joy Lab.
Aimee: And I am Aimee Prasek. Here at Joy Lab, we infuse science with soul to help you build your resilience and uncover your joy. We're talking about moving today, which is exercise, but more effective sort of is my thought here. So let's get into it.
Henry: Well, some people may wonder why, what's the difference? Why, are we talking about about moving, versus exercise? Isn't it all one and the same? I had an epiphany experience about 20 years ago, I think. It was a It long time ago. But I was doing a talk to an elder hostile group at the University of Minnesota, and this was a group of people that were really elder. It was probably an average, was maybe 75 to 80 years old.
And we were talking, uh, actually the topic was depression and I was trying to engage them in some conversation. And so I said to this group, why do you think depression is more common now than it used to be? And you know, people had some ideas.
And then I suggested that one reason was because life is more stressful now than it used to
Henry: I know you, you get it right? You can kind of see why, what a dumb thing that to say. But I realized my mistake almost 'cause basically had just told my, parents' generation
Aimee: The depression
Henry: know, they had it a lot easier than than we do. And, um, they very quickly but politely, corrected me. They said things to me like Sonny and young man, and even though I was 20 years ago, I was a prematurely gray, I didn't look like a, like a, I wasn't a whipper snapper at the time, but, um, but I clearly touched a nerve and, and then a conversation ensued. But it was very striking to me because one, I learned, don't ever tell your elders that they had it than you did. But two, they, they didn't actually. And one of the things that they pointed out a, a great number of them, even though I think all of them currently lived in the Twin Cities, they were retired or maybe they had worked in the cities, but over half of that group grew up on a farm. And, and that's kind of my, my point is that
they were talking about how they, when they were young, they all had to work a lot. They
worked outdoors. And I grew up in a farming community. I should have known this, but, um, at least half of my classmates were farm kids. And, they worked. A lot. And it made me realize that all of our ancestors, essentially, except for the very few elites going way, way back, were making a living through moving their bodies. And by and large it wasn't, um, people weren't exercising in the way that we think of it now.
They weren't going to the gym, strapping on their shoes, you know, working with a personal trainer, but they were moving their bodies for probably, five to 10 hours a day.
And, and that was just the norm. That's just how everybody, practically, everybody lived. And that is such a sea change in how we are living today.
Aimee: This is reminding me. So I love group fitness and I teach group fitness. I've taught group fitness for a long time, yoga and a few other things, but there's this class called 3D30 that I really love. It's like this heavy tube that you hold onto and you make these hilarious like motions with it. And it's this kind of offset movement training. So you're moving in these dynamic ways and it came to be, the creation of this, this proprietary exercise tool and the workout behind it came from, I think it was like a hockey coach. And he had been working his kids like, you know, strength and conditioning for two hours a day.
Just power hard all the time. And they, they were playing these farm teams who could just out skate, outperform everywhere, everything, you know, it was just, they'd get blown out from these farm teams. And so the coach came up to one of those coaches and said well, what's your strength and conditioning routine?
How are you working these kids so well? So they're so agile and they can skate they and skate and skate and skate. And he said, oh, we don't do strength and conditioning. These are farm kids. Go to the farm and see what they do. No joke. This whole exercise routine is based on shoveling hay and moving hay bales left and right. I was like, oh Lord, yes. We have taken what was daily movements and now it's a whole marketing scheme. But it was really interesting to think that, yeah, these are the ways we've moved for so long. We're trying to kind of bring them back into our, our daily life. And now, you know, can go to a class on how to throw hay bales for those of us who live in the cities.
Henry: Right. Well, I, I like to remember that moving a lot is how we have evolved. That's, you know, it's just kind of absolutely built into our bodies and minds, to be moving frequently throughout the day. It's just really helps me to remember that.
But in terms of mental health, we sometimes don't recognize how important that is. And, and it's really worth emphasizing that the health of your brain in every way, including keeping your brain sharp as you age, but but also very directly with mood and sleep and memory it is all linked very strongly to regular movement, whether that be what we're calling exercise or what we're just calling movement.
Aimee: I'm reminded of this quote that I love from Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer. He says, let's have a moment of silence for all those Americans who are stuck in traffic on their way to the gym to ride the stationary bicycle. I love that 'cause it's sort of that exercise perspective, right?
I need to go get my workout so I'm gonna sit in traffic in the car until I get to the gym. Um, so it's sort of this perspective shift I think is really helpful. I've found it really helpful, focusing on movement more. And there's a growing body of research here as well to support this kind of approach to fitness.
And I think one reason is because so many exercise fads kind of fall into this, more is better, harder is gonna be better. That kind of messaging, and it's just not true. Exercise creates a stress response. Not a bad thing, but this is just an example. If we work out too hard, we can put too much stress on our system and too much stress takes a while to recover from.
And that's when exercise can actually make us feel worse or, you know, those are the goals that we have this intense exercise routine. And then it's really hard to stick to. I'll give an example from my own experience here. I fell into this running trap for maybe a year. If you've ever listened to the pod before, you probably know that I don't like running, I hate running.
But I thought at that point would be, you know, a healthier, more evolved human. If I ran, and I love actually Jim Gaffigan's thoughts on running a marathon. He describes how everyone lines up, in their voluntary prison numbers. And then some guy shoots a gun, which is a red flag. He notes and then the winner of the marathon after, you know, how many hours, looks like they were forced to run a marathon as part of a ransom negotiation.
And that's how I feel about running. Now other folks might love running. Good for you. I think that's great. I'm proud of you. I just don't wanna join your club anymore. But that's it, I think. That's what movement can do when we maybe have that perspective shift, it puts the attention back on ourselves in really healthy way, I think of how a unique way of moving might be more nourishing for us. And that might be running for some of you for me it's not, and that's fine. But movement or that way of looking at exercise about moving more, it helps me remember my why. Which is that I wanna move more freely. I wanna move more joyfully. I wanna enjoy what I'm doing. I wanna move with less pain for as long as I can.
Henry: Aimee did you just link running with a hostage
Aimee: Yes, absofruitly.
I think running the worst. If you're chase me, I am going to just collapse. Every now and again. I'll run a sprint, and part of me sprinting is when I have too much molten in me. I need to get out a little bit of energy before my volcano erupts.
Henry: That's a, a great way to distinguish perhaps between movement and exercise that sometimes you really need to make it more intense. Sometimes it's really good for your body to move in an intense way, which I think is what we're calling exercise. And, um, you know, where you get your heart rate up, you, maybe even break a sweat, you know, you're really working at it and doing it for a long enough period of time, and that can be super good for you.
I am a fan of both movement and exercise. I am a believer in the need to do more intensive, kind of high intensity movements from time to time on a regular basis, but it doesn't have to be every single day. And you know, one of the reasons it is so good is to get out some of that built up energy. But also it, I think you said this earlier, that it places a good stress on our bodies. This is a positive kind of stress that exercise creates and movement probably doesn't, in the same way. So I wanted to also bring up a, researcher that. I just really like his work and I think he's made a real contribution to thinking about the importance of movement and, this acknowledging that sitting is the new smoking, it's bad for our health to sit much. And that is Dr. Levine from the Mayo Clinic who started out this area of research called that he called NEAT. N. E. A. T., which stands for non-exercise activated thermogenesis.
so basically saying you can, you can boost your metabolism even without intense movement that we call exercise. He is the guy that I, I don't know if he was the first to develop the standing desk, or he, if he just, his research was early in, in utilizing the standing desk. But, but that's what he did. He, he himself, used a standing desk in his work, even meeting with patients and, you know, oh, not just a standing desk. It was a, it was a treadmill desk.
And so he would, he would have it turned up just enough to be moving at a very slow walk, but it would be for hours a day. And his research shows how doing that is so beneficial for your boosting your metabolism, you know, helping deal with the insulin, blood sugar problems that we should talk about someday. Um, inflammation, you know, weight, all of these things. And not to mention just your sense of health and wellbeing that comes from moving a lot like that.
So, I love the term non-exercise. It's it makes it very clear that you don't have to be moving at a, in a super intensive way in order to get a ton of benefit from it.
Aimee: There's something inviting about the word non-exercise. And also this is good for you, I, I wanna talk about some strategies here of how we can move more just like ideas to spark some creativity. But first I wanna note, what you returned to about good stressors and exercise.
So there's again, something really powerful about pushing yourself a little bit here and there and I love this idea with what's called the cross stressor adaptation hypothesis, which is this idea that through exercise, particularly some aerobic. So some cardio stuff, getting your heart moving, you're pushing yourself to an exertion level that you can maintain, but you're maybe having a little trouble telling the story while you do so. Anyway, you're activating the stress response, and here's the best part, I think. If you can do that in a way that is sort of joyful. Maybe you're in partnership with somebody, you're, you have like a buddy, or you're in a group exercise or you're listening to music, or you're appreciating the scenery.
Then you sort of go a little easier for a moment that moment when we start to recede is gonna downregulate that stress response. Right? So it's that, that pattern of good stress and then coming down and coming down in such a way that you feel good.
You're sort of in that more joyful state and that translates off of the mat or off the field or off the pavement into psychological stressors so that we can have that pattern of recovery a little bit more easy, which I think is really cool. So to push ourselves through physical exertion can translate into psychological stressors is sort of the hypothesis there.
And I think it's very true. So back to some ideas here. I wanna throw out a few that have worked for me, some that are even noted in the research.
Standing at my desk has been super helpful as, Levine had proposed. I don't have a treadmill desk. I've tried it, can't do it. on my
Yep. Not helpful. I cannot do it. I cannot type and walk at the same time.
Aimee: I don't know. My fingers and my feet do not function as independent
Aimee: Um. I also lay on my stomach when I can, and I've set up like a stomach station where I can work on my laptop.
That is the, you know, those are the conditions of my, of my work. I'm on a computer and I'm at home. So I understand laying on your stomach in your office with your colleagues might be awkward, but hopefully you could stand. Another thing to consider is taking sort of mini movement breaks. I like to head out to the chicken coop and hold a chicken every now and again on a mini movement break. I usually go outside if I can putter in the yard. If I'm not in the chicken coop or, pick up some snow, I have no agenda. And I think that's the point. And another one is family dancing. This is what my five-year-old has encouraged, and we have a microphone and we put music on. And I'm a terrible singer and dancer, and that's not the point. We just have a lot of fun together.
Henry: Yeah. That's not the point at all. It's just feels so good to move like that, doesn't it? Just to move however you, your body wants you to move.
Well, you mentioned it earlier, but I, I just had an experience last night. We babysat our granddaughter for three hours and she's about two years old. Chasing after a toddler is like super involved movement.
Aimee: high intensity interval training right there. Yeah.
Henry: I, I like what you described, just kind of wandering, taking these tiny breaks throughout the day. I don't have a chicken to hold, but I do have a dog to walk Bodhi and I also love going for walks after a meal. I love going for, even if it's just 10 to 15 minutes. If you could do it after each meal, I can't do it that often or don't, but I think it would be really, really helpful physically as well as emotionally to take a short walk several times a day. And I like doing it after meals 'cause I think it sort of helps you unwind and digest and maybe even boost your metabolism a little bit.
Track 1: We've got, lots of resources over at Natural Mental Health as well. We've got the resilient movement plans. I'll link those so that can also serve as some inspiration to, get you thinking and get you moving more.
Henry: Might be worth saying too, Aimee, that one of the things we do at Natural Mental Health is we have the different resilient types. And, each resilience type has kind of has its own movement plan because we recognize that our different mind body types really do best with different forms of movement and exercise. It's kind of cool.
Aimee: Yeah. I'd like to do a poll and see if it's the passionate and determined types that are the runners.
Henry: Uh, yeah.
Aimee: Think so? I do too... are in Enthusiastic and creative. We'll cheer you on. So I will put those movement plans in the show notes. So to close, I'm, I wanna take a little wisdom from Hippocrates. I think it shares a bit of practical lifestyle medicine that we're kind of starting to come back to as a culture.
So. " If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health."
Thanks for joining us!: Thank you for listening to the Joy Lab podcast. If you enjoy today's show, visit JoyLab.coach to learn more about the full Joy Lab program. Be sure to rate and review us wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
Please remember that this content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice and is not a replacement for advice and treatment from a medical professional. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health professional before beginning any diet change, supplement, or lifestyle program.
Please see our terms for more information.