If we are to try and get the physical stimuli of the evolutionary lifestyle, we need to define them, and to do that we can take advantage of the concepts used by Erwan Le Corre, Movnat’s founder, to describe movements requirements.
Environmental and Situational Demands define the Contextual Demands shaping our movement
Erwan uses the concept of Contextual Demands to describe the set of parameters that dictate our physical movements. These Contextual Demands are in turn defines by the combination of two distinct set of parameters:
- Environmental Demands: these are the features and characteristics of our environment that constraint and shape our movements. It refers to surfaces (flat, inclined, rocky, etc.), weather (raining, cold, hot, etc.), setting (urban, nature, sea, etc.) and so on.
- Situational Demands: these are the constraints on your physical movements derived from your intentions and the goals you are pursuing.
The combination of these two sets of constraints define the Contextual Demands that, in that environment and at that moment, shape your physical movements.
Here’s how Erwan explains this distinction:
The environment is where you move, and it influences how you move. The situation is either what you choose to do or what happens to you. It’s also how you choose to respond to what happens to you, and it influences how you should perform.
Environmental Demands explained
The Environmental Demands include all the characteristics of your current environment, from the global to the most detailed.
Global characteristics include:
- general setting: urban areas, wild natural setting, natural setting within urban area (park)
- weather: hot/cold, windy or not, raining or wet
- individual surfaces you move on: smooth or not, inclined or flat, and so on. Natural settings have a large variety but urban areas as well.
More detailed ones:
- specific patterns of surfaces, regular or random
- presence of dust or not on metal, making it more or less slippery
- specific thickness of any bars you might use
- unique patterns of tree branches used to exercise: angled or not, pointy prominence, how flat they are, how smooth?
- you use benches to balance or work out: shape of the bench, material used, shape of the back where you balance, etc.
Situational Demands explained
Situational demands encompasses:
- your initial intentions within that environment
- any change in the situation that forces you to choose to alter or not your initial intentions
Examples of initial intentions:
- walking from point A to point B, running, seating in train to move between locations, reading a book, etc.
- cooking, manipulating objects
- working out, including any specific exercises you want to do today
- playing any type of sports
Examples of changes in the situation:
- changes in weather forcing you to change your plans
- any threats or danger identified that you mitigate by changing your intentions (including threats to kids in playgrounds for example)
- external demands: you change your intentions to fulfill a request by someone
These tools help us define movement requirements and constraints
The value of these concepts come from their power in describing the constraints we have to deal with in our physical activity. This allows us not only to define precisely what were the Contextual Demands placed on our ancestors throughout their various daily activities, but also the type of training we can use to reproduce them.