This isn’t about telling you to do more physical activity.
You should know that I’m not the kind of gal who’s going to tell you to eat less and move more, to move for the sake of moving.
Yes, I’m gonna tell you to get your body in gear. But I want you to know why you’re doing it and which types of movement will serve you best.
Stating the Obvious
Let’s get this part out of the way:
If you change nothing else in your life, but add a half hour of physical activity 5-6 times a week, you’ll lose weight. Even if the number on the scale doesn’t budge much at first, notice the fit of your favourite jeans or the way your dresses fall as your body composition shifts.
Articles and studies abound in the ways that exercise will boost prevention, management and healing of many disease conditions. Stabilize blood sugar, improve bone density, circulation and digestion, lift depression and ease anxiety – all as if from a magic pill. If you want the details on any of these concepts, by all means, Google away!
It’s kind of a no-brainer: The human body was made to move.
Your muscles and joints are part of a complex system that ensures your survival. Traditional societies got through by hunting, farming, building, walking, climbing, hauling as part of daily life.
Now look inside.
Your cells and their exquisite machinery are in constant motion, generating proteins and manufacturing energy. The amoeboid migration of immune cells, the peristaltic flow of digestion, the exchange of ions and release of neurotransmitters throughout the nervous system, the shifting of proteins in the dance of life: it’s all movement.
The molecules that make up your cells, the atoms, are containers of energy, vibration. Movement.
As much as we love our modern conveniences, they physically deprive us of an important aspect of our very nature. We deny the body its joy, and experience a breakdown in optimal functioning because of our current lifestyles.
Move It or Lose It
The breakdown doesn’t stop with physical ailments. Mental health is also at stake.
I look at the growing number of kids with ADD & ADHD compared with the dwindling time they spend running around outside. I look at the rising numbers of adults on meds for anxiety & depression compared to the number of hours we spend sitting in offices.
Yes, these are multi-factorial conditions, but like diabetes, physical activity is a key factor.
Mental-emotional issues have a deep root in the fact that we suppress, repress, negate and hold back our feelings. No surprise there. How many of you were actually given the space to have a full-on tantrum or bawl uncontrollably or rip apart your bedroom?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: emotions are energy-in-motion.
The best way to clear the anxiety around that upcoming thing, to dispel the fury boiling in your gut after that fight, to loosen the grief binding your heart is to move. Feel right into it, then do whatever it asks of you. Go for a run, punch a pillow, dance around the kitchen like an idiot. Whatever.
Like a wave, the emotion will swell, peak and wash away in peace.
Move It AND Lose It
Getting back to the type of movement you “should” do. Like with food, we tend to think that there’s a good and bad. OK, there are right and wrong ways of going about certain activities.
What I mean is that it’s not about getting to the gym 3 times a week, running marathons and driving yourself hard at boot camp. That whole “No pain. No gain.” thing is rather outdated. As much as I get nostalgic for ‘80s music, there are some things – along with zippered jackets and big hair – I can do without.
You’ll notice that I’ve avoided the word “exercise”. That too conjures up bad memories of cramps and frustration, and feeling like a failure during the Canada Fitness Test.
Truth is, it doesn’t really matter what you do.
Your body works differently than mine – your idea of invigorating won’t necessarily be the same as mine.
One winter I joined a circuit-training gym to stay in shape between biking seasons (my main transportation for years). Sure my legs stayed strong but I was freezing cold for 4 months straight. That type of exercise was too draining for me.
I adore yoga, but the thought alone of doing it in an over-heated room makes me wilt.
Find something that works for you, for your constitution and your lifestyle.
It might be yoga, walks, runs, jazzercise, Groove, gardening, weight-training, Zumba, boot camp, swimming, circus arts, biking, hiking, skiing, golf, curling, swing, tango, ballet, Pilates, karate, tai chi,…
Find an activity that makes your heart beat a little bit faster, that stretches you and strengthens you. And yes, I mean those metaphorically as much as physically.
Grab a buddy, set a weekly goal, or listen to music for motivation.
Choose a form of movement you love and DO it with utter abandon!
You might even lose a few pounds in the process.
The Way Out of the Rut
The most not-so-surprising side effect of movement is that it’s the only way to get out of a rut.
Whether you’re stuck in a job, a relationship, an illness, how you feel about your body or your life in any way, you need momentum to help you climb out.
You’ll never rise out of that stuck place if you don’t take that first step.
My tendency is to get lost in my head and disconnect from my body. I get stuck in the overwhelming inertia of shoulds to the point that I get nothing done. The beauty of engaging your body is that it requires movement, it was made for movement, and being connected to that helps you move forward in your life.
Clear that one thing that’s been nagging you from your To Do list for far too long, and notice the burst of energy you feel when it’s done. Take an hourly dance break from your computer. Grab the dog or the kid and go run around at the park.
Moving forward isn’t always easy and it does take some effort to get started.
But oh, to revel in the expansion you’ll experience when you do!
What type of movement did you enjoy today? And how did you feel when you were done? Be it exercise or inner work, a step for your business or an improvement in your home, I want to hear about it in the comments. When you share your thoughts, you open the possibilities for others.
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This morning I worked out to a Jillian Michaels video that I bought through Groupon. I had fallen into a workout rut and needed something different to shake me out of it. I have to say, I LOVE IT! My tight back (from being at the computer all day) felt so much better afterwards! And I was ready to conquer the day with a great attitude. #bringit
Great post! It is so important to find activity that is enjoyable. No one deserves to suffer on a daily basis trying to do something to improve their health! I enjoy walking, light weight training, and running. I even keep a treadmill in my office so I can do it while I work. Great reminder on why it is so important to keep moving!
my favorites are walking and dancing! i can totally lose myself in my happy place when i put on music and just move my body. i was struck by your comment about the higher incidence of mental health disorder diagnoses in kids. i used to work in the adolescent mental health unit at a hospital and i sadly noticed – with ever increasing frequency – the number of children being given heavy labels. i agree that lack of movement is contributing to much of this phenomenon.
I love this post! I just started a boxing class–this morning I went at 5:30 a.m. I love it and man, is it a booty-kicker. I’m all for shaking off the cobwebs and doing something different. I’ve been stuck in a rut and my body/mental energy reflects that–time for a jolt!
The “movement” that I enjoy most is walking. I don’t have much downtime, so I like to invite a friend to join me. In this way, walking and talking gives me an opportunity to do fit in visiting. It’s a win/win for all! Thanks, Cathy, for reminding us all that exercise doesn’t have to be a power session at the gym.