In this chapter of our 7 step health plan our health detectives move into the exercise zone. We are designed to move, not to sit in front of a TV, computer or playstation all day. Kids often run around all day, play and explore whenever they can, and although some of the older ones need to be kicked of their smartphones and tablets, we can guarantee that they will be happier in the long run if they do more physical movement. It is actually essential for both physical and mental development, so they’ll probably thank you later.
If you remember the breaktimes at school when everyone went out to play football, skip, play hopscotch or ball games for 15 minutes, why not keep that good habit and get up from your chair and move around every couple of hours. Even if only for a few minutes – stretch your spine, neck and arms and take a little walk. Make sure you stretch in the morning, make the body work with soft stretching movements to help it get ready for the day. Yoga, tai chi or chi gong are all good for tuning you up for the day ahead. Many people associate yoga with stretching and relaxation exercises that might put you to sleep, but yoga is much more than simple stretching. Whether you believe in pumping iron, working out at the gym or playing robust sports yoga is an exercise that can fit into any fitness schedule. In fact, several athletes and fitness people combine yoga with their other exercises to get the maximum benefits. Yoga stretches and lengthens the muscles, tones up the body, keep organs healthy, our minds calm and our overall fitness program enjoyable! While you cannot expect a big muscly body, like you get from intensive weight training, you can definitely get a well-toned and healthy body after doing yoga regularly. Combined with pranayama breathing techniques, yoga is good for your overall well being. Yoga also makes your body more flexible, and can be used to help sports injuries, as some postures heal and strengthen injured muscles and tendons, making them more flexible and resilient.
Doing yoga before a workout or weight lifting will oxygenate the muscles, stretch the body and prepare it for a rigorous workout. It can also improve blood circulation and help the body warm up. There are many types of yoga, but here I just want to mention a very simple set of routines called the 5 Tibetan Rites, that are ideal for everyone. Start with five to ten repetitions of each rite and build up slowly to 21 a day, this routine is very simple, but effective. ( Picture and instructions in a box)
You can also take a walk, jog, run, swim or go for a bike ride, enjoy some fresh air and take the dog for a walk – even if you don’t have one!
Skipping or trampolining are not just for kids – the trampolin, or rebounder, is one of the exercises recommended by NASA, who point out that it is an excellent, non-impact, aerobic exercise in which a weightless state is achieved at the top of each jump and landing achieves twice the force of gravity on each bounce. The shift in gravity benefits every muscle and cell of the body and provides huge benefits to the lymph and immune systems, which can seriously lower cancer risk. NASA found that a 70kg individual spending one-hour on a mini-trampoline will burn more calories than the same person jogging for an hour! It makes the trampolin 68% more efficient than jogging (NASA, Journal of Applied Physiology 49(5): 881-887 1980). And it is fun too, as the endorfins and neurotransmitters – the feel good ones – float around in your system.
Mainly it is all about finding the best exercise suitable for you in your situation. Go dancing, jumping, skating, working out, run, jog, skip, play tennis, football, volley, basket or whatever you fancy. The main thing is that it is easy and fun, because then you are more likely to get on with it. If it is a pain then the excuses can easily lead you off in another direction. The mental aspect of exercise is also important. When we concentrate on our exercise we wipe the screen clean and come back with recharged batteries to be a better partner, mother , father and even make better decsions. Go move – make it happen and feel the benefits straight away.
The 5 Tibetans
These are 5 simple yoga-like rites that, when done daily can help strenghten the body and give us energy, vitality, flexibility and well-being. They are very effective, easy-to-do exercises that help to acitvate the body’s self healing.
Rite number 1 – I am a powerful life force!
Stand with your arms out and start spinning slowly to the right ( clockwise). Relax your shoulders. When you finish put your hands together and look at your thumbs or a fixed point on the floor so you don’t get dizzy. Breathe slowly.
Rite number 2 – I live consciously from my own center!
Lie down and lift the head and legs up (head first), keeping your back on the floor. Breathe in when lifting up – breathe out when putting the head and legs down.
Rite number 3 – Unlimited energy runs through my body!
On your knees start by bending forwards with your chin on your chest, then bend head and neck backwards in a soft ”bow” ( breathing in), hands are at your sides. Return breathing out.
Rite number 4 – I am alive and strong!
Sit up straight with legs straight out in front. Put your hands on the floor and lift the body bending the legs until the arms are straight and the body horizontal. Strech the neck, chin towards the chest. Breathe in, lift up; breathe out; go down.
Rite number 5 – My body and thoughts are flexible!
Lay on your stomach, hands on the floor at shoulder level and then push up so the body is supported by the feet and hands – heels to the floor, straight back. Breathe in, lift up; breathe out, go down. Breathe 3 times deeply between the rites, do not push your body. Pay attention to your body shape and breathing at all times.
Dr. Pernille Knudtzon
Tel: 678 253 510
This post is also available in: Spanish