When most of us think of medicine, we conjure images of pills, potions, tests or worse, surgery. However, one of the most potent forms of medicine is movement – pure and simple physical activity.
I have just returned from a weeklong workshop dedicated to movement under the direction of MP founder Marja Putkisto. I arrived with a sore back and returned uplifted, relaxed and energised.
Slogans abound among health and fitness professionals, and everyday column inches are devoted to a new superfood that will lower your blood pressure, increase your metabolism, ward off type 2 diabetes or some other scary ailment. What we in our remote control culture often fail to recognise is that inactivity/sitting is the ‘disease” of modern times, and no number of green smoothies will ward off its ill effects.
As children, we took activity for granted – running, skipping, jumping were enjoyable for their own sake. When did you last hear an eight-year old say – ‘I want to outside to get fit, lose weight and develop a flat stomach’?
For most adults, activity is a chore that must be endured and programmed into their routine, to, you guessed it – get fit, lose weight and develop a flat stomach. It is not surprising that year after year, resolutions are made, and shed by Spring.
So, how about moving for fun, for energy, for relaxation and pleasure? Give yourself the gift of 30 minutes each day to move, breathe deeply, stretch and be present in your body.
To get you started, here are some simple steps:
- Recognise that your body needs movement to be healthy.
- Respond when your body tells you to move; if you are stiff, tired and achy, that is a cue to move not rest.
- Choose to be active – walk to the shop, park further from the supermarket entrance, take the stairs.
- Choose an activity that you enjoy and schedule it into your week. Join a class – it is more fun exercising in a group than alone with a DVD
- Avoid sitting for long periods. If you must sit for extended periods, take regular breaks and go ‘walk-about”, you might make some new friends in the process.
- Balance is key – don’t overdo it. Too much of anything is bad for you.
- If you are superbusy, fit 2-3 minutes of stretching, joint mobilisation and deep breathing in when you can. Something is better than nothing.
And if you need more reasons, movement:
- aids in the development of more blood vessels to supply water, oxygen and nutrients to your brain and tissues.
- improves your heart and lung function
- increases your immune function.
- Improves overall endurance and decreases toxicity levels in the body.
Finally, remember that movement is more than exercise. It can be walking in the park, rough and tumble with the kids, mowing the lawn, dancing to your favourite tune… just go play.