Over the next few blog posts we’ll be focusing on our 7 Pillars. Today’s theme reflects Pillar 2: INFUSE YOUR BODY – Natural Movement. You can read about Pillar 1: INFUSE YOUR VITALITY – Food As Nourishment here.
We all know that physical activity or exercise is good for us and can improve our health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases, but we’re not always proactive at loving our bodies and practicing healthy behaviors. Today, we’re going to help you change that.
Did you know that regular activity strengthens your muscles and improves heart and lung function? Did you know it can also reduce your risk of disease, stimulate the growth of new brain cells, and even add years to your life? Most importantly, regular activity can improve your quality of life greatly. When you put it in perspective, it seems pretty clear that we should care for our bodies.
“Humans are suffering from “zoo human syndrome,” a cooped-up, caged-animal type of life that results in chronic pain, immobility, depression and lack of vitality. Increasing natural movement in your daily life can help you improve stability, balance, focus, strength and mental well-being.”
INFUSE YOUR BODY WITH BENEFITS
Studies show that just 30 minutes of physical activity every other day is all you need to reap big benefits. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of activity per week to really see and feel the benefits.
This may seem like a high number, but the benefits that can be achieved from this regular movement are worth it! The 7 benefits I found of value:
- Combats stress naturally, which is a huge bonus for anyone who experiences regular stress or burnout (and who doesn’t these days?).
- Controls blood sugar and may even reduce blood sugar levels. Considering how much sugar is hidden in our food, this is a big perk!
- Protects against cancer. For some cancers, inactivity can be a risk factor: “Yes. Sedentary behavior, such as prolonged periods of television viewing, sitting, and lying down, is a risk factor for developing chronic conditions, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes, and for premature death (26, 27).”
- Eases asthma and helps encourage a more natural breathe. Movement encourages sweat and warms up the body, which may help to release toxins, including the common triggers for asthma sufferers (such as helping eliminate all that mucus in the back of your throat by loosening it up).
- When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body (similar to feeling connected with uses of morphine!).
- Exercise when you are stressed, depressed, or deal with anxiety and you will burn off the stress hormone, cortisol, helping you to feel better afterwards.
- Exercise triggers dopamine, the hormone that makes you feel motivated, joyful, and alive!
The benefits listed are for every one and every body, but if you’re working a desk job or regularly sedentary, it’s even more important to incorporate regular movement. Our bodies become stagnant without motion. Encourage yourself to stand up and stretch regularly, even while in the office. Not sure how to start? I’ve outlined my top tips below!
START MOVING – START LIVING
An easy first step to Infuse Your Body is to try an alignment-powered movement, such as gentle or Hatha yoga, helping to move the body in a non-intimidating way. Gentle or Hatha yoga is great beginner exercise that helps to train not just the body, but also the mind and breath. Plus, you get to lay down and completely relax at the end of each class (it’s not uncommon for people to fall asleep during savasana, that final resting pose in yoga). I invite you to try all other yoga classes like Yin, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power. After your fall in love with your type of yoga, find a teacher who inspires you.
If yoga is not for you, that’s Ok! Fun workouts such as dancing or kickboxing offer the same benefits. Want to start small and build your way up? Simply add more walking or jogging to your day, and then take steps to encourage yourself to try power walking or running, even just as a burst or two. The key is to have an active and fun life-style!
You are your best motivation, and how you speak to yourself will determine how successful you are with your goals. Feeling unsure? Tell yourself, “I just have to warm up, then I can go home.” or “I’ll run just for 15 minutes.” Often, when I go to a yoga class, I will tell myself “I will take it easy today” and very often I’ll end up giving my best.
Once you’ve completed a workout, write down and remember how you feel after every workout. When you’re feeling discouraged, find the entries where you felt empowered and strong after working out and re-read these entries. You may find these help you get addicted to the post-exercise endorphin rush.
WITHOUT COMMITMENT, NOTHING HAPPENS
Put your workout on your calendar. Make a commitment to self or even better a verbal commitment to a friend. Sign up for group classes. The energy of the group keeps me going in the moments that I want to quit.
Give yourself micro-challenges that are obtainable, for example “I will run to that stop sign”, and then make the commitment to fully put in the effort to complete these micro-challenges. Micro-challenges while you complete your workouts give those little bursts of “I can do this!” and help to encourage joy while working out. I regularly incorporate micro-challenges during my yoga practice as there is always a new pose to work on.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH MOTIVATION
I’ve found that the BEST way to commit and find encouragement is by surrounding myself with positive activities, people, and motivation. The next time you need a push, text a friend that you are going to yoga. Even if they choose not to go, you put out there a verbal commitment to yourself – honor that commitment. Connect with someone new in the classes you attend and exchange contact information to be each others motivation to attend class. Now you have somebody who will commit with you and both of you just like that found an accountability partner and maybe a new friend.
I find music is a huge source of inspiration and motivation for me. Great music can be just all you need to get the rush to move. If the above step doesn’t appeal to you, just put on the tunes and allow your body to move to the rhythm.
Finally, build a vision of how you want to feel in your skin and be kind with yourself. I hang up motivational photos and quotes that evoke the same feelings I want for myself, and I look at those often when I need a little encouragement.
Mantra: My body is sacred.
Your body is your home for your breath, your mind, your soul—treat it like the sacred container that it is. Your body deserves to do what is designed to do which is to move. Be active, be strong, and fill your life with joyous adventures!
Shine bright, friends, and move your body!
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Important Note: We are not medical professionals. All content found within this article and throughout the website are for informational purposes only, and should not be used as medical advice or for diagnosis. The content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your medical care provider before beginning any exercise program. Links to educational content not created by VITA Infuse Yourself With Life™ are taken at your own risk. We are not responsible for the claims of external websites and education companies.