When you think of maintaining your physical health, images may spring forth of heavy-duty workouts, hefty weightlifting or strenuous cardio activity that induces a serious sweat. Perhaps you’re conjuring up images from the 1980s of Olivia Newton John in her hot pink aerobic gear getting “Physical”. Often underrated however is the importance of simply getting up and out of bed or off the couch. You may be quite surprised at the overall wellbeing benefits of the most basic movement, positively impacting both your mind and your body through simple activities such as stretching, walking or even concentrating on your breathing whilst you move around the room.
Have you noticed that when you’re feeling a little nervous or anxious, your body tends to move at a slightly more frantic or chaotic pace? Or when you feel tired or sad, your movement is a little more sluggish? The reverse is also true that certain forms of movement can actually alleviate our symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress. This is because our minds and bodies are truly intertwined. Studies have shown that meditative movement, whereby you pay close attention to your breathing and heartbeat whilst moving, can help rewire your brain by reducing the reactivity of your “fight or flight” system. You might consider taking up a frequent yoga practise, going for a daily walk even if at a relaxed pace, or routinely stretching your limbs when you’ve been sitting on the couch or at your computer for longer than about 45 minutes at a time.
Useful exercise need not be time consuming, unpleasant, or physically taxing. It can even be incidental. Instead of finding a parking spot directly outside the café, why not intentionally give yourself a walk of a few minutes by parking the car further away? Or rather than taking the lift inside the shopping centre, use the stairs or walk up the escalator to get between floors? The idea is to work basic movement into your everyday activities such that your mind and body will be sure to thank you later!