Many good things happen for the body as well as the mind when we are physically active. Most people see weight loss as the main reason for exercising, but that is only one of the many benefits.
Physical activity fires up our metabolism. It allows all processes in the body to proceed more smoothly and efficiently. It supplies our blood with more oxygen, helps with detoxification, releases stress, circulates and increases energy, lifts our mood, makes us feel connected and focused, clears our mind, shifts perceptions toward a more positive outlook on life, increases vitality and makes us feel fully alive.
The list goes on with health-enhancing effects such as better digestion, lower cholesterol, balanced blood sugar, sound sleep, mental stability, increased strength and endurance, improved immunity and stronger bones. People who are physically fit radiate power, a sense of presence and confidence. They keep active in many other ways as well, and they often enjoy a fuller life.
For many of us who spend our days sitting at a desk, working with our brains but neglecting our bodies, exercise is a great way to create balance and reconnect to the body, to physical sensations and to the grounding energy of the earth.
You might not like the word exercise. Maybe it conjures up bad memories from high school. Instead find a word or phrase that could inspire you, such as “a moving body is a happy body”. Start small and try to do it regularly. Maybe not every day at first, but every other day. Practice will make the master. Set up a weekly rhythm and stick to it as much as you can. Once you get into the grove, your body will happily comply. It will eventually ask for it. Start with taking a 20-minute brisk walk. Move with awareness. Breathe with awareness as you move. Set up a rhythm that suits you. Breathe in with four steps and out with four steps. Don’t rush, don’t push – instead, allow yourself to get into the groove.
Several studies have shown that for greatest health benefits and weight loss results, low-impact exercise is best. Putting our body under too much pressure can be counterproductive:
If we exercise too vigorously, we shift into survival mode, essentially a state of stress – the body instinctively holds onto fat and does not allow it to be burned for energy.
Don’t push yourself to a place of exhaustion. Keep a steady pace. Find the speed and level of exertion that suits you at this time in your life. One good way to prevent overexerting yourself, is to keep breathing in and out through the nose. When you find yourself panting and breathing through the mouth, just take a break or slow down and get back to breathing through the nose. Once your breath has normalized, continue with your activity.
Breathing through the nose allows you to breath deeper. You will be able to fill your lungs to full capacity. Breathing through the mouth results in a shallow breath and will not be able to sustain you.
Regular exercise promotes muscle growth.
Muscle tissue burns more energy than fat tissue, so the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn – even when not exercising!
Weight bearing exercises – walking, running, dancing and working out with weights, as well as yoga and tai chi – are especially important for bone health. They strengthen both muscles and bones. When muscles are used with resistance, they pull on the bone and stimulate the breakdown of old tissue and the creation of new tissue in thicker, stronger and more flexible form.
Keeping our body moving and flexible keeps us feeling youthful and radiant. The yogis say, “You are as young as your spine is flexible.” When we stretch, we also elongate the meridians, the energy channels in the body, thereby helping to release energy blockages and allowing energy to flow freely.
We have all heard the expression “runner’s high.” After ten to twenty minutes of exercise, our brain starts to increase the production of endorphins, opium-like chemicals that create a feeling of euphoria, well-being and optimism.
Exercise is therefore a powerful antidote to dep-ression. Aerobic exercise, including walking, stimulates a more abundant production of endorphins, so it has a more profound effect on mental health than weight training does.
After exercise, our body feels energized and detoxified. With this clean feeling, we are less likely to want to eat processed foods containing artificial chemicals, sugars and unhealthful fats. Our body will yearn for pure, nutritious and wholesome foods that support us in our journey toward optimum health and vibrant vitality.
What will it take for you to incorporate regular physical activities into your life? You might want to start simply by walking to the store instead of driving, carrying home your groceries instead of chauffeuring them or using the stairs instead of the elevator. A brisk walk in the morning or evening could be a great way to start or end your day.
Taking a class in dance, Pilates, yoga or tai chi might inspire you to pick up a practice. It might be more encouraging to have a friend with you while you exercise or join a class. Experiment with different forms until you find something that you really enjoy and that suits your lifestyle. Your body and mind will be very thankful to you!
Author . Speaker . Coach
Joogalaager Polli talus https://marikab.com/retreats
Polenta with Roasted Sunflower SeedsPrint Recipe
- ½ cup (120 ml) raw sunflower seeds
- 3 cups (720 ml) water
- 3 pinches salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) polenta (coarsely ground corn)
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup (120 ml) raisins
Food Recipe Instructions
1 Preheat the oven to 425°F (225°C).
2 Spread the sunflower seeds on a cookie sheet and roast until slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn them – once you smell the aroma, they are done.
3 Bring the water to a boil and add the 3 pinches of salt. Pour the polenta into the water gradually while stirring constantly. When the polenta begins to thicken, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and simmer, covered, for 15 mi-nutes, stirring occasionally.
4 Sauté the onion in the oil until golden. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5 Add the sauté, roasted sunflower seeds and raisins to the polenta and mix well.
6 Pour the polenta mixture into an oiled 8 x 12-inch (20 x 30-cm) baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
Serve as a side dish instead of potatoes or as a lunch dish accompanied by a green salad.
Note: Cut any leftover polenta into thick slices and fry the next morning for a delicious breakfast.