Do you sit for prolonged periods? Sitting at my computer, after 30 minutes I feel tension in my eyes, jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, fingers, back and hips and a numb feeling in my lower limbs. If I’m not mindful, my old mates migraine and sciatica could revisit. Being sedentary for prolonged periods contributes to both physical and psychological issues. Stagnant circulation, constant compression, sustained tension and lax or imbalanced musculoskeletal strain lead to pain and problems. To curtail and counter this I close my eyes, breathe deeply, stretch and shift to a fit ball, standing desk or a kneeling position. Mini sessions of exercise refresh my body and mind. Blood rushes back, joints realign and muscles stretch.
How much do you move? Our increasingly sedentary society has screen time stealing away essential exercise. Movement is necessary to maintain and maximise our mental and physical health. Doctors are prescribing movement as medication in almost every condition as science supports its efficacy. “Exercise is the magic pill,” says Michael R Bracko, chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Consumer Information Committee. “Exercise can literally cure diseases.” What differences do you notice when you exercise regularly? More motivation, energy, confidence, calm? Many of exercise’s proven benefits are hidden and long-term. Studies have shown exercise decreases the risk of coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes, some cancers, osteoporosis, dementia, depression and anxiety.
The exercise elixir also boosts immunity. Professor Tim Noakes, of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, says, “Mild exercise can improve our immune system by increasing production of essential proteins and waking up lazy white blood cells.” Robert Pisto, personal trainer (fitsom.com.au), says, “When you exercise regularly it gives you an enormous sense of wellbeing; you feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night and feel more relaxed and positive. Regular exercise can have a profound impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, the list goes on … It also relieves stress, improves memory and boosts overall mood.”
By increasing happy hormones like endorphins, exercise is an antidote to depression and tension. Yoga teacher Jenny Segail (avalonyogacoop.com.au) has seen the stress-relieving effects of exercise. “It is the breath and movement duality that creates a meditative experience and keeps the student focused in the moment. It’s like taking a ‘mental breathing space’ from life’s stresses.”
What exercise enlivens you? Each activity has unique benefits. A balanced blend of the following will bring you to your personal best.
Aerobic or cardiovascular training such as running, dancing or swimming increases your rate of breathing, pulse and oxygen intake. Co-ordination, endurance, energy and strength come from regular cardio exercise. Cardio increases circulation to all tissues, feeding them nutrient-rich blood and flushing out stagnant toxins. Cardio activity also boosts brain function and volume while cleansing the lymphatic system. This not only guards against degenerative brain disorders but improves concentration, cognitive function and reflexes.
Stretching exercises such as Pilates and yoga improve flexibility, muscle recovery, concentration, circulation, organ function and posture and may ease pain. A recent Boston University School of Medicine study found that yoga has a positive effect on mood by increasing mood elevating neurotransmitters like GABA.
Resistance training or anaerobic exercise includes weights, body-weight exercises and high-intensity interval training. This improves one’s strength, muscles and bones.
Stability or balancing exercises such as gymnastics, yoga and tai chi assist balance, flexibility, cognitive function and strength. They also improve co-ordination, preventing injury while optimising posture and performance.
Easy does it
Once motivated to move, you can’t expect to go from sloth to superhero in a few sessions. Many fitness enthusiasts end up trading their gym membership for rehabilitation due to improper exercise. Start low and go slow to reduce risk of irreversible injury. Pisto advises, “The time of day to exercise is purely up to the individual. I believe 45 active minutes on a regular basis (three or more times per week) is a great goal to set.”
Being impatient and pushy with yourself can lead to problems and aversion to exercise. Yoga teacher Eileen Hall (yogamoves.com.au) says, “Stay present. Stay in the now. Most injuries occur when the mind and body are not connecting.” Segail emphasises stability to prevent injury: “Keep stable during yoga. Even though you might not have the flexibility to do the pose properly, if you’re stable, you won’t hurt yourself. Wobbling around on the mat is a recipe for disaster.”
The old “no pain, no gain” axiom is redundant. Pain doesn’t mean progress, but rather a message to modify your movement. Pisto echoes these ideas: “The best way to avoid injury is to listen to your body — you know it best. Warm up correctly and try to exercise at least with a buddy if not at a gym or class to increase accountability.” Tai Chi Australia agrees. “As with any exercise, warming up is important. Take the time to understand the instructions so you can perform correctly. If you have an injury, make sure your instructor is aware so that movements can be suitably modified.” As you gradually gain more strength, skill and stamina you’ll be able to amp up your activity.
To avoid passing out, burnout or injury consider the following precautions.
• Get a medical check-up before embarking on a new exercise regime, especially if you have health issues.
• Optimise exercise and minimise injury through gait analysis and correction with a trained chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist.
• Don’t do general exercise when unwell or injured.
• Strap, tape or brace areas if appropriate.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Global seafood consumption has quadrupled over the past 50 years and interest in environmentally conscious fish choices has grown. But which types of seafood are sustainable and how can you be certain? We take a look.
Your magic microbiome
Your microbiome impacts your heart health, your mental health, your weight, your immunity and your athletic performance. That same microbiome is also unique to you and has been dubbed the “second genome”. The big questions are, what exactly is that microbiome and how can you make it work for you?
You don’t have to be a morning person to create a mindful morning routine. By working with your body clock and creating rituals that work for you, not against you, even the latest risers can set the right tone for the day.
The rise of the “sober curious” generation
In a society that has long treated alcohol as a dichotomy — either you’re a vodkaswinging party animal or a teetotal, clean-living yogi — a new wave of people are searching for the middle ground. How are they navigating a culture still set on making socialising synonymous with drinking?
Tania de Jong _ a healing note
With the voice of an angel, the heart of a lion and the soul of a mystic, Tania de Jong AM leads a varied and productive life. She is a gifted soprano with an entrepreneurial flair and a passion for giving. Having built numerous businesses, performed in countless venues, released many CDs and established three charities, her latest vision is to transform the treatment of mental illness in Australia.
Conscious parenting is a radically diff erent approach to raising children that can be healing for the whole family.
Special Report - Weight Loss That Lasts
Weight gain is both unhealthy and uncomfortable. The temptation is to go on “crash diets” or try wonder foods that promise to strip away the kilos. What the research tells us, though, is that these quick fi xes lead to more weight gain in the long run. Here we discover some sustainable weight loss strategies that will help you lose weight for life.
Yoga For Loneliness
We’ve just farewelled the year that broke and woke us. Feeling a loneliness hangover from 2020? Us too. Need an antidote? Learn yoga’s perspective on loneliness and solitude and a juicy yoga sequence.
Healthy Summer Entertaining
Discover some simple tips for healthy holiday entertaining which will leave you satisfi ed but not overstuff ed like your Christmas turkey.
Better Skin Each Birthday
With a plethora of anti-ageing beauty products available, it’s hard to know what’s the most helpful and the least harmful. The good news is that by taking consistent care of your skin with healthy habits, nourishing foods and a few smart tricks, you can create a smooth, firm and fresh skin complexion.
It’s flower season! We’re celebrating with six beautiful blooms that heal.
Managing Mental Illness Can Be a Team Effort
Like so many people—and so many entrepreneurs— my husband and business partner struggles with his mental health. I’m speaking up so others know: With the right understanding, life and business can still be good.
WINTER WELLNESS: 5 TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOUR Gut and Brain Health THIS NEW YEAR
This new year may look socially different than years past, and considering the added stress, limited sleep and typical holiday overindulgence most of us experienced last month, it’s even more necessary than usual to let our bodies recover and regenerate in this post-holiday season.
4 EXPERT TIPS FOR Men to Age Gracefully
We all want to believe that we get better with age, but growing older can often make a man feel more like a broken-down beater than a classic car. Luckily, it is possible to handle the process with strength and integrity. Try a modern approach to aging gracefully with these four steps,” says Dr. Spar.
“Take Two Kittens and Call Me In the Morning”
Can Cats Help Humans Be Healthier?
4 TIPS FOR IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH during quarantine
HEALTH NEWS & TIPS
Lift Your Own Spirits
We all feel down now and then, especially lately. These techniques can help you bounce back.
Eat to Keep Your Spirits Up
When it comes to staying motivated and keeping a positive outlook, diet can make all the difference.
Do You Need Stress?
“The ways and means are available to me...The only question to be asked then is: ‘How much discomfort am I willing to sit with before I invite the answer to be revealed?’”—Dale Jukes
“Can you perform a hymn for us next week?” my pastor asked me after Sunday service.