Across the United States, a movement is underfoot: the Movement movement.
Aerobics, waterobics, Jazzercize, Gyrotonics, Nia, Pilates, walking, running, biking, and exotic forms of movement -- yoga, T'ai Chi, Continuum movement, Feldenkrais Functional Integration, Hanna Somatic Education, and others counter the effects of stress and the sedentary life with salutary movements that stimulate circulation and improve flexibility.
With the emphasis on movement comes another component of fitness; endurance is being supplemented with coordination, just as healthy eating choices are being supplemented with vitamins and other nutritional substances. Just as "being on a diet" is out and healthy, lifelong eating habits are "in", how a person moves in life is recognized as being at least as important as how often or how vigorously they move when exercising.
What is behind this new development?
The incidence of back pain and movement-related injuries -- including overuse and repetitive strain injuries -- has brought the importance of neuromuscular conditioning to the attention of health professionals and Human Resource directors, alike. The costs of such injuries can be remarkably decreased by a few minutes of gentle exercises done regularly.
The problem of musculo-skeletal injuries points to a seemingly obvious observation: we become how we live. If we live a sedentary life, we lose vigor; if we use primarily certain movements or certain positions during our work day, the muscles involved in those postures and movements become conditioned to a heightened state of tension -- leading to susceptibility to injury.
Obviously, the way to counter such susceptibility is to engage in new movement patterns that countervene the old habits.
The more exotic movement disciplines are particulary valuable in this regard -- particularly in high-stress lifestyles that cultivate heightened tensions. Slow movements, in particular, interrupt the tensions of a high speed life. They have the added benefit of developing grace, coordination, and a better body image. Many people find that they look and feel younger just by breaking tension habits. Postures and movements feel and appear more youthful.
The question is, which one is right for you? Your best bet is to do a little reading and a little exploring. If you lead a sedentary life, take up more active movement activities; if you lead a high-stress life, take up slow movement activities; if you have athletic injures, some remedial movement disciplines to improve muscular control can eliminate the residual effects of old injuries and reduce your susceptibility to new ones.
The costs of movement-related injuries have been estimated in the billions, yearly. Most of these injuries are avoidable and remediable.
Needless to say, the final act is up to you. The Movement movement is growing throughout the United States. Find your place in it and reap the benefits.