Dr. Lisa Schaeffer
Finding a movement practice that works for you!
Our delayed Summer warmth has finally arrived, and with it we’ve noticed a lot of clients feeling the pull to start exercising again. The Summer season is peak Yang energy and with it brings motivation, sun and longer days, so it’s unsurprising that we are all feeling the urge to capitalise on that and get back into it!
Whether you’ve already started, or thinking about it, this article may offer some insight into why a movement practice is so worthwhile.
My favourite tool for myself and my clients is to reframe exercise into the idea of daily movement. The word exercise to me often feels heavy, chorelike, or a membership I’ll enjoy for a week and then end up canceling. When I think about moving my body, it feels unrestrictive, energizing and fun! Try this word flip and see if it makes a difference for you.
Applying this idea doesn’t mean no gym workouts, high intensity gym classes or a good 3km run; if you love moving your body in that way, go and do it! But for the rest of us that are challenged by such intense ways of movement, we can broaden our concept of what exercise really is. Things like going for a walk with a friend or exploring our national park, dancing around the house to some great tunes, tending to the garden, throwing the frisbee with your family or friends, playing table tennis at home or doing some yoga on the porch are all rejuvenating and sufficient forms of movement. And if you look forward to it and you’re getting connection, joy and laughter out of it, it can be even more beneficial.
In Chinese Medicine, the aim of movement is not to specifically build muscle or to fit into last years jeans, it’s about moving the energy (Qi) and keeping in a state of flow. When we don’t do this, energy or Qi stagnation can occur, leading to pain and injury, digestive issues, sleep issues, fatigue, mental health issues (commonly heightened stress response, depression, irritability and frustration), and if it goes on for long enough, many other chronic conditions. Do you notice that when you or a friend starts regularly exercising, they exude more motivation, resilience and are in a state of flow? We explain this as a healthy flow of Qi in the body and mind.
There are a few common resistances to connecting with a regular movement routine; being time poor, having certain injuries and illnesses, exhaustion or even just a lack of motivation.
If you’re time poor, try scheduling in even 5-10 minutes a day of any kind of movement to begin the habit of moving daily. Once the habit begins and you feel the benefits, you’re sure to make more and more time for it. Or try pairing it with another activity - i.e. walk with a friend instead of sitting at a cafe or call a friend for a walking chat, forest bathe with the family at Masons Falls (recommended by doctors to boost mood and energy), make part of your commute active, or put some tunes on for the house clean and work up a sweat.
If it's a lack of energy that’s holding you back, try some low intensity exercise such as yoga, tai chi or a moderate walk. Tai Chi has been used for millennia to improve energy; try Begin With Breath Tai Chi on Youtube and reap the benefits! If you’re concerned about fatigue and exhaustion, come into the clinic and we can help with acupuncture, herbs, supplements and specific diet and lifestyle advice for you.
If you find that every time you get started with exercise, you get injured, or you’ve stopped exercising because of an injury, find a practitioner that can help you out with some rehabilitation exercises and can offer alternative ways of movement while the injury heals.
Movement is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, so instead of making excuses, try adapting it to work for you! Pop into the clinic or give us a call if you want to discuss how we can help you get back to a state of flow!
Until next time, keep well,
Dr Lisa Schaeffer Chinese Medicine