For as long as the human body lives, it maintains movement within. Our breath moves our lungs, blood absorbs the oxygen by moving in bursts through its vessels, electrical pulses move along nerves, interstitial fluid flows along its channels, connective tissue is moved by breath and blood. This happens all the time, and you haven’t even moved a single muscle consciously.
You affect processes like breathing and heart rate to a certain degree by conscious means, but without necessary knowing to which effect. Usually, the way in which the autonomous systems work, reflects emotional states and/or the physical activity you engage in.
Unless you learn a new way of moving, like dance, martial arts moves or other physical skills, voluntary movement happens by executing habitual patterns. It took you a while to master the art of walking and talking, of reading and writing, yet now this activities requiring a complex set of muscular coordination happen by pure intention.
If you ever engaged in ‘ghosting’ (copying the way another person walks), you get an idea that the simple act of taking a step forward has quite a lot of individual variations of doing it. Hundreds of muscles acting on the 206 bones in a human body allow for many ways of doing something simple like walking.
The habits of voluntary movement affect the quality of the involuntary movements essential to keep you alive. A simple experiment can give you an immediate experience of this relation. Let your head slowly move towards the ground, curling your spine. When you can’t curl anymore without effort, try taking what you think of as deep breath.
You might have noticed that this bodily configuration restricts the movement of your ribs, and interfered quite a lot with getting much air into your lungs. Less air means less fuel for the metabolic processes happening inside your body, which in turn can limit what you intent to achieve.
Of course, it’s unlikely that this forward curl looks anywhere near how you usually move through your life. This experiment just illustrates that your voluntary movements interact with the involuntary movements, quite often in not beneficial ways. Luckily, no matter how you deliberately distort your body, it’s usually not immediately life threatening.
Transforming interfering habits into supporting habits pays off. Despite the majority of people using their body not really aligned with its design, the life expectancy averages at 69 years. The way how you move through life will affect how long you live, and how happy you feel on your journey.