Your heart pumps the blood into your body, but it’s the muscular action that helps the blood return to the heart. The blood carries fresh nutrients to your cells and helps remove toxins.
When you experience stress, the flight or fight reaction is triggered. Your body re-directs the blood to the muscles so that you can either run or fight. If you do not run or fight, the body thinks you are still facing the danger, and you stay in unhealthy hyper-alertness. Movement and breath can help. Just going for a brisk walk, a bike ride or a swim helps you to use up the stress chemicals productively. Your physiology can calm down and return to normal resting state.
Choosing an exercise
Life is meant to be enjoyable, so choose something you love doing, because you’re more likely to keep doing it. Consider what level of activity you are used to and increase it slowly and gradually. If you are not used to any activity, then start by going for a daily, 15 minute walk. Then gradually increase the walk by 5 min, then also start walking faster. You should aim to exercise at an intensity that enables you to just maintain a conversation. About 30 minutes a day, 4 -5 times a week is ideal.
High impact sports like running will affect your joints in the long term. A combination of cardio-vascular activities (e.g. swimming, cycling) and calming and stretching classes, would be a balanced way to exercise. Yoga, Pilates and Tai chi are all excellent gentle, whole body exercise forms that have great health benefits, physically and mentally.
Exercising as you get older
It is important to maintain healthy levels of exercise as we get older. Resistance and weight bearing exercises also help older people maintain muscle mass and strength.
If you find physical activity painful, it would be best to get physical treatment before you start an exercise program. Our osteopath, Katia Twyford, can give you a physical movement assessment. Then she can advise you on what exercises would be best for you and help with an appropriate program.
Make a commitment to yourself today: give yourself the pleasure of moving, in whatever ways you would enjoy!