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 as well as 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 regular movement are worth it, including:
- Combat stress naturally, which is a huge bonus for anyone who experiences regular stress or burnout (and who doesn’t these days?).
- Control blood sugar and maybe even reduce blood sugar levels. Considering how much sugar is hidden in our food, this is a huge perk!
- Protect 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).”
- Ease asthma and help encourage a more natural breath. Movement encourages sweat and warms up the body, which may help to release toxins, including the common triggers for asthma sufferers (such as loosening up all that mucus in the back of your throat so you can expel it).
- Release chemicals called endorphins, that trigger a positive feeling in the body (similar to the feelings associated with using morphine!).
- Burn off the stress hormone, cortisol. Exercise when you are stressed, depressed, or dealing with anxiety and you will burn off cortisol, which helps you to feel better.
- Trigger dopamine, the hormone that makes you feel motivated, joyful, and alive!
The benefits listed above are for every person and every body, but if you’re working a desk job or are otherwise regularly sedentary, it’s even more important for you to incorporate daily movement.
Our bodies become stagnant without motion.
Encourage yourself to stand up and stretch, 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, which helps to move the body in a non-intimidating way. 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 other yoga classes such as Yin, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power to find a flow that’s perfect for you. After you fall in love with your type of yoga, find a teacher that inspires you so you feel more compelled to stick with it. If yoga is just 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 some walking or jogging to your day and build up to a routine so you get into the habit of it. Once a routine has been established, commit and encourage yourself to try power walking or running, even just a burst or two (such as a quick burst of running to the STOP sign on your street). The key is to have an active lifestyle that you enjoy!
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.” I have a regular yoga routine in my life, but some days when I go to my yoga class I’m just not feeling up to it. Perhaps I’ve had a bad day or am feeling overall down. When that happens, I’ll tell myself “I will take it easy today” and often times I’ll still end up giving it my all simply because I’ve gotten into the habit of it.
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. And remember, take your time and trust that you’re doing the best you can!
WITHOUT COMMITMENT, NOTHING HAPPENS
Make a commitment to yourself, or, even better, make a verbal commitment to a friend. Looking for ways to make a commitment? Try the following:
- Sign up for group classes. The uplifting energy of a group class keeps me going in the moments that I want to quit.
- Put your workout on your calendar. Visual reminders are a great way to hold ourselves accountable.
- Give yourself micro-challenges that are obtainable, such as the example previously used of “I will run to that STOP sign”. I regularly incorporate micro-challenges into my yoga practice – it’s a great way to reminder yourself “I CAN do this!”.
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’re going to yoga. Even if they choose not to go, you expressed a verbal commitment to yourself – honor that commitment.
If you don’t have a friend to attend class with, go anyway! Connect with someone new while you’re there and offer to exchange contact information with your new friend so you can be each other’s motivation to attend future classes together. Now you have an accountability partner!
Need more ways to surround yourself with motivation? Try music! I find music is a huge source of inspiration; a good song can be all you need feel inspired to move – 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 to yourself. I hang up motivational photos and quotes that evoke the same feelings I want for myself, and I look at these often when I need a little encouragement.
Don’t forget your body also needs rest. Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep to really help your body perform optimally.
Your body is the home for your breath, your mind, your soul—treat it like the sacred container that it is. Your body deserves to do what it is designed to do; be active and move. Fill your life with joyous adventures!
Shine bright, friends, and move your body!
Mantra: My body is sacred.
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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.
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