Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Move Your DNA Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement

Rate this book
Move Your DNA explains the science behind our need for natural movement - right down to the cellular level. It examines the differences between the movements in a typical hunter - gatherer's life and the movements in our own. It shows the many problems with using exercise like movement vitamins instead of addressing the deeper issue of a poor movement diet. Bet of all, Move Your DNA contains the corrective exercises, habit modifications, and simple lifestyle changes we need to make in order to free ourselves from disease and discover our naturally healthy, reflex driven selves. From couch potatoes to professional athletes, new parents to seniors, readers will love Katy's humorous, passionate, and above all science based guide to restoring your body and reclaiming your life.

240 pages, Paperback

First published September 25, 2014

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Katy Bowman

29 books297 followers
Katy Bowman has earned an international reputation for educating the general population on alignment and load-science, and as a result has helped thousands to reduce pain, increase bone density, improve metabolic health, and solve their pelvic floor mysteries. She is known for her radical, counter-culture health directives that happen to be based in the hard science that she has made her life’s work.
A biomechanist by training and a problem-solver at heart, Katy’s ability to blend a scientific approach with straight talk about sensible solutions and an unwavering sense of humor have earned her legions of followers. Her blog, KatySays.com, reaches hundreds of thousands of people every month, and thousands have taken her live classes. She regularly writes for and is featured as a health expert in publications such as Prevention, IDEA, and Self, and is a funny and entertaining guest on radio and television talk shows and news segments.
Katy is the founder and director of the Restorative Exercise Institute, which teaches the biomechanical model of preventative medicine to health professionals and laypeople worldwide, both online and in live seminars. She is also the creator of the popular Aligned and Well DVD series, a step-by-step visual guide to learning the basics of skeletal and body alignment. Katy’s groundbreaking work in pelvic floor restoration has made her particularly popular with midwives, OBGYNs, and others concerned with pelvic mobility, strength, and health.
Her books Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet (2011), and Alignment Matters (2013), have been critically acclaimed and translated worldwide. In between her book writing efforts, Katy travels the globe to teach the Restorative Exercise Institute’s courses in person, getting the world moving one calf stretch at a time.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,244 (52%)
4 stars
843 (35%)
3 stars
238 (10%)
2 stars
44 (1%)
1 star
9 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 250 reviews
Profile Image for Laura.
382 reviews2 followers
August 20, 2014
I am a huge fan of Katy Bowman. Her holistic yet thoroughly scientific approach to health and wellness is extremely fascinating and incredibly effective. I have experienced first hand how releasing tensions and correcting alignments can fix seemingly unrelated health issues--and thus believe her when she says that the majority of chronic ailments our society suffers, have mechanical components that are largely unaddressed.

The first part of the book is fairly technical discussing adaptions of the muscles and cells at microscopic levels. While it may be a bit much for some people I love the technical details and kind of wished for even more.

The middle part of the book mostly describes how our modern environment causes our body to adapt into adopting damaging chronic positioning that cause us to restrict our ranges of motion. For instance don't sit on your tail bone, stand with your feet straight instead of pointing out, drop your ribs, ramp you head back over your shoulders instead of jutting it forward, straighten your legs instead of keeping your knees bent.

She also points out the irony in that even those who are diligent exercisers are usually still sedentary for the majority of the time, and that the exercises most of us do for health are just more inputs that cause us to adapt to restricted ranges of motion instead of ones that promote greater ranges of motion and thus why many extremely fit people suffer from poor overall health. She also discusses the psychology of how if you are participating in movement as part of you daily life versus as a compartmentalized chore or activity, the greater an impact it will have on your overall health.

Then in addition to adjusting your daily habits of sitting, standing, walking, etc she does offer some corrective exercises that can be done to help us mimic some natural motions we often miss in our modern lives. While the descriptions are thorough and contain pictures and also excellent notes on how our body can try to "cheat" to avoid the desired effect, I recommend watching her free youtube videos or downloading some of the $5 classes she offers, as videos are a better media for explaining exercises clearly.

It is difficult to do a complete synopsis of the ideas she presents --and thus why she has written three books and has tons of videos, interviews, blog, etc, but once you have absorbed enough of what she says you get the bigger picture of how it is all connected.
Profile Image for Shannie.
9 reviews
August 30, 2016
Clear out the nightstand, cos this is my new bible.

I consider(ed) myself to be a very healthy person. I exercise tons, and eat good, whole foods. Unfortunately I am exercising wrong, and so are you. Exercising, walking, standing, sitting, sleeping...
Katy Bowman proposes that we need to think of movement the same way we think of food. Our "movement diet" needs to be natural and varied, and it isn't optional.

The first half of the book explains basic biomechanics and cell function, relating to a "movement environment." The biggest idea is that we aren't moving anywhere near enough, or properly. All exercise as we do it is movement, but not all movement is exercise.
My favorite theme was that the way we live our lives today is like animals in captivity. Bowman likens out knee/back/mobility problems to captive orcas fins flopping. We are experiencing, "diseases of captivity." Cool huh. Now I studied kinesiology in college. I'm not sure if I would have struggled with some of the concepts if I didn't have that background, but I don't think so. Everything is explained quite clearly.

Now that you're all terrified because you're ruining your body, the second half of the book is a practical guide to fixing bad habits. Bowman gives us specific movements and releases to start regaining mobility and strength. Mostly though, it's just a matter of changing your daily habits to incorporate more natural movement. The exercises given are good. A handful of them are difficult to understand in the book, but these I just looked up on YouTube and found loads more information.

Overall, it's a bunch of really interesting ideas. It's also funny, and easy to take and put into practice. This is one I'll be pushing on all my unwilling family and friends. Look out world, amateur physical therapist on the loose
Profile Image for GlobeRunner.
85 reviews
September 23, 2014
I'm a great fan of Katy Bowman's and read everything she's written that I can get my hands on. I wanted and expected to give this book 5 stars, but I had two problems with it: I couldn't understand from her written instructions how to perform many of the exercises in the book (perhaps more pictures or links to videos would have helped me), and that at the end of the book, I was more confused than when I started. I had a specific question and not only wasn't it answered, but I felt I was given conflicting indications on how it would have been answered. I guess I will have to write her an email and hope that it will not drown in her inbox and that she will choose to dedicate some time to answer it. (If I succeed, I will of course add a star).

Other than that, the book is of course great. Illustrations, separate boxes on anatomy and terminology right where they are relevant rather than collected at the end of the book should make it easy to understand for anyone (except for those, like me, who are hopeless when it comes to understanding instructions on how to perform specific movements). Katy Bowman's writing style is compelling, as always, and her recommendations both sensible and easily incorporated into daily life.
Profile Image for Stefani.
199 reviews13 followers
December 2, 2022
Dense with information! I borrowed this from the library, but I've added it to my Amazon wishlist now, and I pinned some DVDs from her site for good measure. In the meantime, as we can't make all the changes at once nor absorb all the information at once, the changes we are making are more walking and less sitting! (And I'm throwing in some of the stretches that seemed most immediately pertinent into my daily routine.)
Profile Image for lauren.
287 reviews4 followers
February 23, 2015
No thanks, I'll sleep on my comfy bed rather than curled up on some tree roots in my backyard. I'm pretty into wearing shoes too.
Profile Image for Max Micheelsen.
15 reviews1 follower
January 19, 2015
This is a great book to read, if you want get a basic understanding of what ”natural movement” means. It turns out, sitting is not really the new smoking, and standing is not the cure for everything. Varied and diverse movement is the key, so try to sit and stand in as many ways as possible.

The book has giving me a great desire to get my own garden, as doing garden work must be one of the truest expressions of natural movement.
Profile Image for Keith.
813 reviews57 followers
January 13, 2023
As I started this book, I was astonished that the person writing the forward was “the first person to circumnavigate the planet by human power” without any training! With such lack of intelligent training how could I not be turned off. Fortunately, that was not the author of the book.

The title led me to expect intimate details of cell biology. Nope! Not there! Even though the book doesn’t talk about telomeres and other DNA related aspects, the author demonstrates a solid understanding of what she writes about.

As I read, I found myself stopping to do the exercises she presented. I expect to use it more than I've used most exercise books because it is about total health instead of just specific exercises.

Update 2023-01-13
I have hardly looked at this book since then. Here are a few things I highlighted:

“This Rhomboid Push-up is often mistaken for a cat-cow yoga pose, but in the Rhmboid pushup there is not a change in the curve of the spine.” (Page 131)

Sidebar: Core Activation, Schmore Activation
“In the 1980’s, the standard exercise-class protocol was two hundred crunches, ‘keeping your back pressed to the mat.’ But it turned out that this posterior tucking motion coupled with spinal flexion created a whole world of high loa to the disks of the spine. … by the 2000’s a new stabilizing muscle — the transverse abdominal (TrA) — the darling of exercise classes, research and … magazine articles the world over.” (Page 144)
“… but the TrA should be activating on it’s own. If you have to think, ‘Better stabilize my core now,’ then it means that your muscles are not sensing the load, or your muscles are sensing the load and do not have the leverage to generate force …” (Page 144)

“If you’ve got a lot of belly fat you’re trying to hide, or no fat but a serious vanity issue, your chronic hold-in patterns can be wreaking havoc on all sorts of other body parts and functions that no one ever thought to link together.” (Page 147 in chapter 8: It’s Hard to Res in a Zoo)

“Rustling vegetation, wind, water, birds, and insects are the world’s natural noisemakers, with the peak decibel (dB) of all ambient noise to be about 36 dB midday rising from an early morning 20 dB. (Page 153)

Sidebar: Noise Pollution, a Modern “Plague on Your House”
“75 dB, which would have signaled an approaching avalanche or earthquake back in the day, is a completely reasonable level for a city street, …” (Page 154)

Section: Release the Psoas
“The psoas (SO-az) is an unfortunately named muscle directly impacting more joints of your body than any other single muscle. Branching off like a crazy starfish,… A ‘sticky’ psoas has the ability to alter the orientation of your spine, hips, pelvis, or knee … … it is no wonder that so many injuries can be blamed on one misbehaving muscle.” (Page 155, followed by some exercises for the psoas)

Profile Image for Sarah.
13 reviews2 followers
January 15, 2016
this book calls for a shift in the paradigm that associates all body movement with exercise. I enjoyed it immensely and have already been putting into practice the various, subtle, easy and common sense movements into my day. I particularly related to the idea that our modern day, sedentary bodies are similar to orcas in captivity. we are designed and capable of much more than sitting in front of tvs, phones, and computers.
Profile Image for Ena Rusnjak Markovic.
63 reviews30 followers
February 11, 2021
Fucking amazing. Life-changing. Dense with research. Katy Bowman is a formidable researcher and writer, and all round brain. Funny too. Explains 95% of what’s been going wrong with my body. Everyone should read it. Cannot recommend it enough. Has ramifications for everything. I took so much away from this book and will keep going back to it as I seek to change my lifestyle.
Profile Image for Cristina.
93 reviews23 followers
April 7, 2022
**I completed this book via audio, which I would highly recommend so you can be moving while listening to a book about movement. She'll even give you mileage marks as you go. Tip: Listen all the way to the end, she includes outtakes.**

Am I going to immediately stop using my pillow and start sleeping on the floor? Probably not. Will I start using my husband's Squatty Potty? Maybe. Am I going to stop wearing a bra? Tempting! (You'll know what I mean after you read this book.)

While I won't be making any sort of drastic changes to my habits as soon as I get home, this book was definitely full of helpful and practical information and tips that anyone can begin to implement in their daily life such as stretches, posture, and exercises. I've been trying to be more aware of my movements and what my body is telling me, and I feel more prepared after this info.

The author does throw in some medical terminology, but she explains and breaks it all down to be easily understandable by anyone without a medical background. Completing the book by audio was great because I got to enjoy it while taking my walks, but I might invest in a hard copy as she did mention there were some images to supplement some of the body mechanics she was describing. Plus!... I'd like to be able to refer back to a lot of her tips.
Profile Image for Summer.
1,355 reviews15 followers
January 7, 2022
This was a book that Patty Sommer recommended and I’m so glad I listened. I couldn’t stop reading.

I finished Fiber Fueled last year and I would say this is a similar approach and rationality. Just as our bodies work optimally with a huge range of different real foods, so does our body with a variety of movement.

This explains the needs to move and keep moving your body to strengthen your muscles and bones based on loads and how sitting all the time is our enemy to health. She explains that by making small changes and stretch/exercises they will fire muscles to realign your body and restore motion and health to your body. I look forward to reading her other books.
Profile Image for Katie.
95 reviews
January 5, 2017
Katy's thoughts on natural movement really resonated with me and isn't something that I've seen a lot before. The book had great detail and easy exercises, but it was hard to remember everything listening to it on my commute. I'll be listening again and trying the techniques.
Profile Image for Lael Walters.
204 reviews3 followers
December 2, 2018
Exercises seem to be working so far- so giving high rating for now :)
Book is extremely unclear and hard to follow though
Profile Image for Stephanie Reilly.
13 reviews5 followers
February 25, 2022
As a former division l athlete, someone who has always spent ample time at the gym “working out” and submerged in the culture of “going to the gym”, believing in the separation between exercise and… well…the rest of my life, I really appreciated this book for its science-based ideas on movement and how it relates to our health. From cover to cover, this book was chalk full of new ways to think about our everyday movement. Im so glad I read this after I have read The Jane Austen diet, which had some similar principles relating to everyday movement. I loaned the audio version of this book through the library (the author is the narrator, and she does a FANTASTIC job at it), but I will definitely be purchasing this book for future reference, and to re-read again at some point. I highly recommend this book, it has certainly sparked a new train of thoughts that I believe will impact the rest of my life.
Profile Image for Abby.
1,410 reviews178 followers
January 30, 2019
Comprehensive, motivational overview of natural movement as a lifestyle (along with a slew of carefully explained corrective exercises). I am very inspired and plan to keep devouring everything Katy Bowman has written.
Profile Image for Steph Martella.
44 reviews4 followers
September 25, 2021
Forever fascinated by the human body!

What a fresh, new and objective perspective on movement.

As a lifelong learner, athlete and mover, I plan to use this knowledge for the rest of my life!

I hope to empower others to question their previous teachings to improve their mobility and in turn, health.
Profile Image for Hind.
264 reviews7 followers
May 3, 2019
This is a good book and makes a good argument for why we should move more and perhaps exercise less, but it’s not really meant to be an audiobook,
Profile Image for Lane.
47 reviews
January 24, 2023
This book serves as the catalyst to a massive change in how one views movement and their own holistic health. Bowman describes in a very concise way how to create a more natural and intentional way of living. My only gripe is some of the formatting is very weird. 4.5/5
Profile Image for Melinda Miles.
111 reviews
May 12, 2020
My old teammate recommended this book to me and it was fascinating! Full of facts that I didn’t *know,* exactly, but that make PERFECT SENSE when Katy presents them. I loved it. I’ll think about it all the time. This is a rare book in that I think it will have an actually effect on how I live my life.
Profile Image for Alenka.
11 reviews
July 6, 2022
Very nice book about how we can improve our muscoloskeletal health by moving not more but differently. A very nice overview for any yoga teacher, pilates instructor, or just interested fellows. There are many info boxes with explanatory blocks, exercises, flows at the end of the book, suggestions for everyday adjustments and more. It is very understandably written, even for laymen. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Kristen Gebbia.
125 reviews1 follower
March 12, 2022
The first part of the book was interesting, tho mostly things I had already picked up from the authors other book and podcast. The second part of the book basically described exercises to do to help move your body in ways that were familiar to our ancestors but unfamiliar to our modern age.

Notes to remember:
No matter what I’m doing, take breaks often to move. Better to move for 5 minutes 6 different times through the afternoon than half an hour all at once.
Transition slowly to zero drop shoes and eventually bare feet in order to avoid injuries.
Our bodies adapt to whatever we use them for.
There’s a difference between movement and exercise; think of movement as nutrition; the more variety, the better. Exercise often overuses one move, leading to injury.
Profile Image for Carol Apple.
134 reviews10 followers
April 2, 2015
This book is about the concept of natural movement and practical ways to use this science to improve our health. Bowman explains that the biomechanics of the way we habitually move puts certain "loads" on our bodies on a cellular level, and these loads have far-reaching consequences to our health. This concept is brand new to me - or at least until I read this book I did not pay a lot of attention to natural movement, natural footwear, or anything paleo. The natural movement "movement" is related to the paleo diet in the sense that both encourages getting back to our natural cave-dwelling roots.

I found the information presented in this book fascinating on several levels. Even though it has only two days since I started reading the book some of the simple technique Bowman recommends are already helping my foot pain and muscular-skeletal issues. The proof is the pudding and the movement adjustments she describes are very easy to incorporate in your daily schedule. Also there's a philosophical dimension in whole idea that the way our "paleo" ancestors were is the way we're "supposed" to be.

Modernity with all its conveniences – pillows and mattresses, soft chairs, flat floors, computers, grocery stores,indoor living, and shoes and some of its inconveniences: i.e., constant noise – is affecting our health and changing our bodies in ways we do not even realize. The way we have set up our environment means that some of our cells literally never move or experience a "load", which has a health effect similar to never getting a needed vitamin. Our bodies "evolve" to adjust to the changes in our environment, but more often than not the adjustment is detrimental to our health. For example, when we do lots of reading and computer work, and do not spend enough time looking at distant horizons, naturally causes our eyes to adjust to the circumstances by becoming nearsighted. The solution as presented in this book is to move our bodies in the way they used to move when are species lived closer to nature. The idea sort of implies that our bodies are "designed" to operate in a certain way and when we operate closer to the design we feel and function better.

Anyway, in the first part of the book Bowman explains the concept of biomechanics and the second part she describes actual things we can do to improve our fitness and health. I have problems with my feet that have begun to make rest of my body hurt, so I figure her methods are worth a try. Other than maybe buying some shoes and a few optional fitness doodads it costs nothing to try. If you incorporate the movement techniques into your daily walking, sitting, and standing routines, as she suggests, it does not even have to cost you time.
Profile Image for Sonja Tyson.
213 reviews1 follower
May 22, 2019
I loved this book. I've always been a great walker and can't agree any more strongly with the author on its importance. My mantra is that walking is the base of the fitness/health pyramid. I'd give up all other physical pursuits before walking, not that I have to make that choice, thank God. She argues we all need to squat more, sit on hard surfaces, move more in general. She also thinks pillows and mattresses have turned us into the Eloi. I'm not about to give up comfortable chairs, beds, and pillows. We can find middle ground between living like our long ago ancestors and being couch potatoes. But no doubt as a society, we sit too much.
Profile Image for Angela.
131 reviews6 followers
June 12, 2019
Super interesting look into movement vs. "exercise." I'll be taking a lot of this forward to help with my goal of being able to move with ease for the entirety of my life.
Profile Image for Jackie Petroulias.
96 reviews5 followers
March 9, 2016
"Despite our great fortune to live in a time when we aren't at great risk for communicable diseases, we are, in fact, dying - slowly, in bits - from our natural tendency to do as little as possible. Our unquenchable desire to be comfortable has debilitated us. Ironic, as there is nothing comfortable about being debilitated. The paradox - that advancements to make our lives less physically taxing have taxed us physically - is profound and has led to an emergent scientific hypothesis. Perhaps the only way out of our poor physical state, created by our culture of convenience, is a return to the behaviour of our ancestors."

"The notion that we must work intensely (read: do a lot of exercise) to stay healthy inside our zoo-like environment is not necessarily invalid, but it implies that there is nothing we can do about our captivity or that we've agreed to staying in our cage of comforts."
Profile Image for Claire.
431 reviews32 followers
June 6, 2015
I read a brief excerpt from this book which had me worried it was going to be a very technical read but was pleasantly surprised by its conversational tone. Very readable. The more detailed bits are either in sidebars or are woven nicely into the text.

This book had some missing pieces for me regarding positioning and outlook when it comes to mobility.

Exercise is only a very small part of movement; it's what you're doing all the time you need to keep in mind.

That said, the book does contain exercises to help get your body back to its natural state (i.e. not sitting most of the day for one). I like the calf stretch on page 97. I'll be trying out more of them while incorporating more movement throughout the day.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Tricia.
166 reviews11 followers
October 9, 2018
I listened to this whole book while walking! It would be hard not to, since at the beginning of each chapter Katy tells you how many approximate miles you could walk while listening to her citing the virtues of consistent movement. I finished just in time, as the book is a prerequisite for the Move Your DNA weekend I just attended; the instructor offered hands-on guidance to the correctives prescribed in the book.

I most enjoyed Chapter 8: It's Hard to Rest in a Zoo, where I learned about the biophony and the little-recognized stress of persistent man-made sounds, among other things. So "enjoy" might not be the best word; it was a downer to hear about some of the ways humans intervene in the natural world, but also hopeful to consider how I can see myself as part of the natural world.
Profile Image for Mandi Ehman.
Author 6 books88 followers
February 4, 2017
This book was everything I was hoping it would be - an instruction manual for incorporating movement into every day to impact not just your strength but your health. This whole body approach to wellness is encouraging to me as someone who doesn't have - or want to make time for - exercise but who does want to move more - and in better ways - on a regular basis. While they're are "exercises" included, many of these can be done as part of your regular routine. I found some of the descriptions of exercises confusing on the first read through but I'm looking forward to going back through and focusing on one chapter per week as I practice incorporating those movements into my life.
Profile Image for David Ranney.
339 reviews10 followers
October 24, 2014
The loads we experience in today’s world differ hugely from the loads people experienced a hundred, a thousand, and ten thousand years ago. Yet we blithely accept that our health issues—which so many of us share—are genetic. Genetic, a term we’ve internally defined as beyond our control. Whether out of convenience or ignorance, we have failed to address the habitat in which our genes dwell, and the impact of the way we move on the state of our health.
Illuminating. Essential!
Profile Image for Alexis.
Author 6 books131 followers
February 1, 2016
Some really interesting ideas about nutritious movement and about how we hurt our bodies by repeating the same movements over and over. Our current day life skews our gait and the way we move and we are not moving naturally.

I think I'd have to read this a couple of times to get everything out of it. I've never read anything quite like it.

She has DVDs and I think I'll be checking them out of the library. Some really fascinating and new ideas about how to live well in your body and how to move.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 250 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.