The body loves to exercise but how much?
The body loves to exercise but how much?
As a physiotherapist I’m often talking to people about what exercise will support them; how much to do or how much not to do. Compared to a couple of decades ago people are very, very busy, in so much drive and motion, with women especially juggling jobs, careers and children. And at the end of the day when we’re already exhausted, we’re off to the gym to exercise before supper, adding even more pressure to our day.
This doesn’t make sense to me on one level – if we are already feeling drained from the busy-ness of the day, to go and put ourselves through a hard exercise program – but I understand this is what we think we need because the gym work releases the serotonin and endorphins which give us a temporary high and numb for a moment the stress of the lifestyle lived. But this pattern then gets repeated day after day, compounding our exhaustion and our stress.
How do people get caught in such a cycle?
When people exercise to relieve stress, there is a push and drive – to do a bit more than last week, make the body work harder than it wants or is able to, and then it injures and they need support. Our thoughts and ideas about exercise make a huge difference to the reason for and the way we exercise. Do we exercise to:
- reduce the tension of the day?
- keep the weight down so we can go away and overindulge later?
- keep the body fit and looking good?
- do what everyone else does?
- enjoy moving the body?
I have seen people who try to re-live an event like running a marathon they ran earlier in their lives. It can be that they are coming to a new decade, or they meet up with some mates in the pub and decide to do something for a charity. But it’s unrealistic and they injure themselves during the training period and need some support from the therapist. When we look at life at the younger stage, and how life has changed since then, there can be more stress, more weight to carry, tighter working schedules, more responsibilities, less stretch in their tissues . . . so no surprise that injuries occur.
The body loves movement: the circulation gets boosted from fingertips to toes, the nervous system gets more oxygen, the heart is a muscle that enjoys working harder and beating a little faster, the physical form loves to be stretched. But what the body doesn’t like is all or nothing. A person who works all day every day at the computer and does no other exercise, who then exercises all weekend will feel sluggish in the under-use sedentary phase and ache from the over-exercise stage.
The body loves gentle exercise regularly – a little something every day to stimulate the systems to work at their optimum. This will vary depending on our general health, our age, our circumstances, and any pre-existing conditions. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ and we need to constantly adapt to what we feel supports the body. As we age, we will naturally exercise slower; or after an illness, we need to take things very gently to rebuild our level of fitness. This may be different to the gym culture picture we’re given of increasingly more reps or weights, so discerning what the body is asking for at any time is the key.
What we often don’t realise is our regular movements in the day can make a difference to our health. When someone gets in and out of the car, walks to the train station, up and down the stairs, on and off the train, to the office and in and out of meeting rooms and then the reverse to come home, this is all keeping us fit. The recent trend for more people to work from home is having an impact as we are not getting this incidental activity.
Another thing to consider is how we move. I am a people watcher and love to walk behind people and look at their gait. I was walking with a friend recently and I was observing her footsteps being slightly noisy and scraping on the floor with every step. She wasn’t shuffling but there was a heaviness to her step. As we walked, she told me about some situations which were a bit tricky in her life and I could feel how they were literally weighing her down and altering her gait. By allowing ourselves to become aware of this fact, we can consciously change our movements, and this can support us to change the way we see and feel about life.
What if we were to observe all our movements in the day? How do we type on the computer? How we walk through the house? How much force we open a door with? How we may be very quick to jump in on a conversation to give our opinion?
It is very interesting to observe, there is always something for us to learn about our movements that reflect to us what is going on for us inside.
“Nothing is nothing because everything is everything.”Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume II, ed 1, p 302
What we label as exercise is just one part of the movements that make up our day and define much of who we are.
We can observe what is happening when we exercise, knowing there is much more to life than what we see. And we can then take that level of observation to all of the movements in our day, knowing that the way we move matters enormously, and affects not only how we are feeling and living, but the ripples of our movement flow out to everyone and everything around us.