The importance of exercise in our life
The importance of exercise in our life
We probably all know the importance of exercise in our lives, how exercise is good for us, how it keeps us fit and healthy. But can we say exercise per se makes us healthy, fit and vital, or is it the way we move that does it.
We hear about super athletes that burn out their bodies at an early age, where the body is worn out and broken; we also know of children who are obese and do not exercise at all, being low in vitality and engagement with life. These are the extremes. Then we have the average citizen who holds their body as important and has a regular and consistent routine to exercise the body, to train it so it stays the way we want it – good looking, strong, flexible, whatever it might be. And maybe this middle ground is what we are looking for. But is it really?
Or again, is it more that we need to look into how we move other than only what the exercise should be. That the focus of exercise and activity needs to come back to the body as a whole, the body as a homogenous entity to look after and feel at home with and in, instead of trading the body as a thing that we use to get through in life and that has to perform how we want it to.
So, what about living in and with a body that we really feel at home with where we can say I love being with myself, my body, I know my body well and get to know it more every day. Can we rediscover this state of being – of really feeling at home in and with our body so that we love being in our body and love moving in and with it?
We can start with the fact that this is not something completely foreign to us. When we watch babies and little children move, we can observe that they move freely and naturally in their bodies. They are IN their bodies and they love to be in their bodies and if they don’t, if there is something that is bothering them, they make themselves heard. We can take this as our marker: we all once have been little, so we know how it feels how to be in our body and enjoy being in our body. It is not that we have forgotten, it is only that it is a while ago that we have felt that connected and at home in our body.
So, we can start very simple and natural by making movement, any movement that we do during the day – getting out of bed, bending down to tie our shoe, sitting down on a chair, picking up a pen/fork/knife, walking, standing – the focus of enjoyment by simply feeling the body move and appreciating and enjoying moving one’s body. This might for some of us be a bit hard because we may feel not so comfortable with our body, or our body might have some aches or illnesses that make being in our body not the most pleasant place to be. But the fact is that our body is the house we live in all life long; we cannot change houses, that is the one that we have for this life, so we might as well take deep care of this house so it becomes a very welcoming and warm place to be in, tending to everything that needs attention, to eventually have a body that is love-filled and an awesome place to be in.
So, the simple daily things we do anyway – like tying a shoe – can become our exercise ground alongside the ‘real’ workout that we do. So how do I tie my shoe; do I just do it without registering my body, or the fleeting thought of how strenuous it is, doing it quickly and reluctantly because it has to be done, or because I become aware how the body aches when bending down – the lower back, the shoulder – or feeling the stiffness in the body and being annoyed by it? Do I pay any attention at all? There are so many things that happen in this one instance. Are we aware of it… and how are we aware of it … do we grab the opportunity to be with our body and tenderly move it and enjoy being in it, or do we just do what ‘needs to be done’ and go on to the next task in life, dragging our body along?
We are in our body all day long and we move our body all day long, so why not make it something to enjoy?
Tying your shoe can be a very enjoyable and ‘exercisy’ kind of moment, if we give it the attention it deserves. Imagine sitting down to tie your shoe so you get a good stretch in your upper and lower back when bending down, adjusting the legs, maybe one a little forward, the other slightly back to accommodate the stretch on the back; or bending down in a standing position, both legs next to each other for a real good stretch for the legs and the back; or maybe having one leg slightly back, the forward leg slightly bent so the body gets an all over stretch but not too much. Or bringing one foot up onto the edge of a chair so the bending down to tie the shoe is less of a stretch in the back but a bit more stretching for the legs. This is only one moment in life; imagine how life would be if we lived every moment so consciously and lovingly with our body.
You might say I don’t have time for this. But this is a trick thought because we do these things anyway – they happen whether you take time for them or not – so why not take these moments in life and bring focus and love to them. By doing so you will find that they actually do not take more time but will become so much more enjoyable to do. In fact these little things in life, when brought love and attention to, have a massive effect on everything else in our life: they bring us a solid foundation to stand on wherever we are, whatever we do. One moment is the next moment and the next, making up our day, a week, a year, a whole life. And one moment and the next and the next lived with love and enjoyment brings a super-rich life of enjoyment.
We place everything else as more important than the body that makes it all happen through its movements.
The more we love being in our bodies and love moving our bodies, the less distraction and the less energy we use during the day to not have to feel or be aware of our bodies.
In that same line we would also know how to exercise the body and what is needed – a walk in the park, a run, strengthening the body through a weight workout, do I need to strengthen my legs, the core muscles, the arms, how hard to train? We simply will get a feeling of what is needed to stay fit and vital and strong.