I hope you did well with last week’s prescription! This week’s focus is on movement. All living things move, grow and change. And we, dear friends, are meant to do the same.
And while the focus of this week’s prescription will be on physical movement, always remember that as living beings we are meant to move emotionally, cognitively and spiritually as well. No matter what our age, movement in all its variations should be a part of the daily health care that we practice in order to live our lives expansively.
Spend just a moment sitting outside watching nature. Be as still and quiet as you can. At first it may appear as if everything is as still as you are, but as your eyes settle and your brain slows down you will begin to see the constant dance of movement in front of you. Can you identify with any of the movement patterns of the creatures in front of you? Are you a slow, cautious mover like a box turtle, nimble and acrobatic like a squirrel or a constant whirl of motion like a hummingbird. Just observing the wonder of moving creatures in front of us is a good reminder of what we should be doing. Think for a moment about how your own body is constructed— the joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons. You definitely were not constructed to be as stiff as a board! Take a moment to watch your fingers slowly bend, or your foot point and flex, or your toes curl. To keep all of these moving parts healthy they need to be moved on a regular basis.
I consider myself to be fairly active person, and yet when my dear friend shared an Apple watch with me, the watch actually started nudging me to get up and move. It was then that I realized how easily time can pass when I am absorbed in work and sitting still. What does that stillness mean for my health and well being? How does it affect my ability to manage my chronic joint pain. I do know that the longer I am still, the more I notice the stiffness and the hints of joint pain beginning to flare up. Does it matter that I was still for too long because of work rather than binge watching a Netflix series? No — lack of movement, is lack of movement, and it will have the same negative affect upon my joints and muscles and mental health no matter what the reason for my stillness.
Does daily exercise and the habit of movement mean that you will always be “perfect” at your chosen activity. No, not at all! Even after 4 years of a fairly consistent, daily PureBarre practice, I was struggling through PureEmpower the other day. I easily could have engaged in a pity party over the modifications that I needed to make to some of the movements in order to get through the workout. I found myself thinking, ‘Am I too old for this? Is my body really supposed to move that way? Why don’t I have the strength to do those darn side planks?’ However, as soon as I was aware of the negative, defeatist thinking beginning to start, I used my habit of gratitude (Yup, good old Prescription #1) to push those negative thoughts away. Instead of thinking “Poor me, I need to modify these pushups or plank”, I thanked my body for what it could do at that moment in the workout. I found that expressing gratitude for what I could do in the moment, helped me focus on getting the most, both physically and mentally, from the 45 minutes in class. And for the rest of the day I felt energetic and strong and focused — oh and yes, I had much less joint pain!
Movement also affects the health of our brains. Physical exercise increases the production of endorphins which in turn helps to reduce stress, increase self esteem and improve sleep. Physical exercise also boosts our metabolism and helps us lose/manage weight. Just some more critically important reasons for make sure that movement is a part of your daily health care practice. (And even more reason to be suspect of any “health/weight loss program” that tells you that you won’t have to exercise!)
So your prescription this week is to begin to make daily movement part of your daily health care practice. For 3 days keep track of how much, or how little, you physically move. Write your notes in a journal! If you have access to a device that measures your steps and heart rate, great! If not, just keep track anecdotally. Along with notes on how often you move, keep track of your appetite, mood and ability to focus with or without movement.
Moving very little? Then it is time to schedule in time to move every single day Commit to keeping this appointment with yourself! Begin with a goal of walking daily, starting with 20 minutes and working yourself up to an hour.
Moving a fair amount, but need to challenge yourself? Then ask yourself how can you can build strength while moving? Perhaps you can add some speed intervals, or you can add a plank routine or pushups to your movement routine.
Moving a lot and committed to 5 days a week of working out? Then spend time evaluating whether or not your workout is balanced and benefiting all of the parts of your body. Perhaps you have been focusing on cardio, and realize you need to strengthen muscle? Maybe you have focused on core, but your triceps could use some love? Maybe you have plateaued and need to vary the workout you are doing?
No matter where you are in your habits of movement, you can always find some aspect to tweak, change or rethink. And as you increase movement, change movement and make movement more challenging, be sure to take note of how movement affects the other aspects of your life? How does daily movement, increased movement, more focused movement change your appetite, your attitude and your ability to think clearly?
Remember all aspects of our lives are INTERWOVEN, and our goal as living beings is to balance all of those varied threads that comprise our unique and beautiful “life cloths” as best we can.
In Health and Balance,