Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Work Your Legs

It Might Save Your Life

Many modern people have weak and/or misaligned legs. So many of the machines that make our lives easier, also make it easier to avoid working our legs. Cars, TV, and the computers to name a few. This has led to people eating more and moving less and becoming less healthy and mobile all the time.

But this can be reversed simply by working your legs and working them regularly.

Not only is it good for your overall health and balance, but it might save or extend your life in other ways. You never know when life will throw something at you that will demand a strong physical response. It might be a physical attack or it might be a fire. It might be a runaway car or it might be a tsunami. An out of control animal or a trip down a flight of stairs. A bus accident or a freak storm. An earthquake or a loose floorboard. Having the ability to move, to take weight, to deliver force, to maintain physical balance under stress, to adjust physically in ways that are relaxed and flexible…all these things require leg strength and are useful in daily life even if a life-threatening event never happens.

I recommend working your legs in a way that’s rhythmic but not totally predictable. Something at least a little organized but not too rigidly. Find an activity you like that combines working your legs and paying attention. Activities like: walking, biking, running, dancing, playing tennis, martial arts, team sports…any activity where you’re working your legs and moving your entire body in patterns, but patterns that have to change regularly. It doesn’t have to be a super strenuous activity unless you want it to be. The main requirement is that you are working your legs at least a little past your comfort zone and that the activity have an element of unpredictability that keeps you paying attention and adapting to change.

If you have strong and springy legs you can push things, you can pull things, you can move through space smoothly, you can climb things, run to or from things, you can stand your ground. If you want to you can learn to focus your leg strength through your body and into your hands for striking or other martial uses. But you don’t have to be a martial artist to use this kind of responsive leg strength in everyday life, or in emergency situations.

And if it’s been a while and you’re really out of shape, a good way to start is with a year or more of some kind of posture discipline like Yoga or T’ai-Chi. That way as you increase your mobility your joints will be aligned and ready for the work and you’ll be less prone to injury. 

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