Movement and exercise feature heavily in magazines, newspapers and most other forms of media at this time of year. As soon as New Year festivities are over, out comes every piece of advice we’ve probably heard a hundred and one times before. Photos of svelte figures performing near-impossible postures or muscly ones with abs like washboards appear everywhere. Are they meant to inspire us or to drive home the message that we are hopeless cases? Either way, they can fascinate us because, deep down, we know that movement is a natural expression of life.
Movement – harmful or life-enhancing?
We undertake all manner of movement, even when we are sitting, but the modern advice that a sedentary lifestyle can cause harm seems irrefutable. Even if we are chair-bound, there are exercises to help us maintain or improve health. That makes good sense because we know that when the body isn’t moving much, energy cannot circulate well. If this is prolonged, the muscles and tissues weaken. But before we don our running shoes or head off to the gym, how do we know what level or amount of exercise is appropriate for our body? Indeed, perhaps something like tai chi would be better for us than pounding pavements or pumping iron.
Balancing yin and yang
When we are inactive, the body tends to be more yin, whilst exercise increases yang qualities. One should balance the other – gradually. By the application of yang through movement, we convert sluggishness into something lighter and more vibrant. How much is enough, though? It is easy to become over-enthusiastic and then strain can put us out of action altogether.
The sweet spot
If we want to be healthy and balanced, we need to find our sweet spot. This is the optimum point between rest and activity. The sweet spot changes from season to season, and even with different times of day, as well as with age. It is different for everyone as body types and constitutions vary. As we increase our capacity for activity, it will change, too. There is no common prescription that suits everyone so we need to listen to our body. Intuitively, we can sense when we need to do more and likewise when the body has had enough. Increasing movement may generally be good for us but to get it right, listening to the body’s intelligence is absolutely essential.
For balance in life, there is a wealth of information in The Great Little Book of Happiness