FOUR PILLARS support STRONG HEALTH: Movement. Real, whole food. Emotional-Spiritual. Rest.
When focusing on movement do you need to lift heavy weights in a gym daily or be training for a marathon? No. You can, but daily movement as part of a healthy lifestyle doesn’t require a membership or athletic prowess, it is simply a blend of aerobic movement, weight-bearing activity and flexibility through stretching. We should be moving with intention at least 30 minutes a day - and maybe, be slightly out of breath while we are doing it. 10,000 steps is another measurement we often hear is a goal. I find if I walk 3 miles each morning I have walked about 6500 steps in 45 minutes, and then in my normal day I accrue another 4000 steps easily. There are MANY benefits to starting your day with an outdoor walk. I love walking first thing in the morning. Nature surrounding me visibly seems brighter, sharper and sounds seem clearer. I walk in awe. I seem to be able to practice presence of my incredible surroundings easier in the early morning before the unnatural traffic builds. It is a great way to begin my day with gratitude for all that is around me. Early morning light calibrates our internal hormonal clock that aides in our sleep that night. Movement also creates energy. Very difficult to imagine if you are in a rut but trust me, movement begets new-found energy. Get up and move.
If you are committed to your health, MOVEMENT is necessary. It doesn’t have to be structured. It can be playful or useful. Think of natural, daily movement that could also impact your social-emotional health as well. Have a daily walking buddy (human or canine), cycle and explore a new area, talk/walk for a meeting instead of seated in an office, dance in the kitchen while making dinner, golf with friends while pushing your clubs for some added weight-bearing exercise. If standing is not possible you can also have a dance party in a chair and get the blood moving while increasing your endorphins with music and laughter.
Maybe take a tour of the local gardens with a friend. Take time to pause and enjoy the many shades of the blooming flowers, the variation of colors in the leaves and blossoms and textures of the plants around you. Sculptor and environmentalist Patrick Dougherty creates awe in the simplicity of movement of bent sticks! (See image above.) Spend a few hours touring a park or garden and you will have walked 6000 steps without realizing it!
Note: For our metabolic health, taking a walk around the neighborhood, as short as 15 minutes after a meal, can lower our blood sugar as much as 30 points!
WEIGHT BEARING activity should be two to three times a week. It could be structured at a gym under the guidance of a personal trainer or class instructor, or it could be during natural movement - preparing and planting a spring garden, using a push lawn mower, reorganizing the kitchen while moving appliances and canned goods,… or having fun tossing the kids or grandchildren into the air during water fun in the warm weather or a pool.
STRETCHING is greatly under valued. As Joseph Pilates said, “You are as young as your spine is flexible.” You need to intentionally stretch two to three a week for an hour, and each day should begin with some stretching. There is a reason why babies and animals stretch when they wake up. Before your feet hit the floor maybe try this EIGHT MINUTE GOOD MORNING stretching series. (Of course check with your physician before beginning any new exercises. These are gentle stretches and should never cause pain or electrical feelings - just a gentle stretching.)
In addition to my morning bed stretches I love practicing Yin Yoga three times a week for a DEEP stretch of the connective tissues, meditation, becoming attuned to my body and practicing presence. The added beauty of classes is that they include socialization with classmates (even via ZOOM). Let me know if you would like to join the classes.
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Educator, coach, Yin Yoga instructor and advocate for healthy, toxin-free living. Organic gardener, whole-food cook. Service-minded Rotarian. Photographer. Storyteller.