“Where our mind goes, our energies follow.” So believe practitioners of Qigong, the ancient Chinese healing exercise. The philosophy of exercise today embraces this age-old wisdom. Fitness is no longer focused on “going for the burn”, or the “no pain, no gain,” concept of exercise. Fitness is no longer a fad, but rather a holistic practice necessary for maintaining a healthy body, mind and spirit.
Fitness is movement. When one engages in physical activity it must bring a sense of harmony, not stress to one’s life. Incorporating an exercise program into one’s lifestyle is something that we do for ourselves—it doesn’t have to be done in a gym, involve wearing a leotard, and the goal does not have to be a perfect six-pack. These stereotypes have been more intimidating than motivating.
Joanna Berry is the former Managing Director of The National Register of Personal Trainers in Britain and she says—“Don’t ever let exercise scare you.” She goes on to say that the dangers of inactivity should scare you. “Sedentary behavior has a negative effect on nearly every aspect of our physical and mental health.”
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Aging Research found a direct link between inactivity and the physiological signs of aging. Fortunately, the signs could be reversed with regular physical activity.
Many studies prove the association between regular physical activity and reduced rates of:
- Coronary heart disease.
- Type 2 dependent diabetes
- Colon cancer
- Back pain
- Exercise releases endorphins—feel good hormones—in our brain, so it is often prescribed as an antidote for depression.
- Exercise aids digestion and helps the lungs to function better, increasing the amount of oxygen flowing through the bloodstream, so physical and mental stamina are increased
- Exercise helps people undergoing harsh cancer treatment
- Exercise can improve your immune function
Physical exercise is defined by the great Ayurvedic physician Chakara (not Chopra) as “that activity of the body that is desirable and capable of bringing about stability and strength.” Exercise, Chakara believed, should be practiced regularly and in the right measure. Today, fitness experts from personal trainers to medical doctors and government health officials agree with this premise.
Exercise has long been considered an essential component for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is also one of the simplest and most effective means for stress reduction and rejuvenation. Through exercise, the body returns to its normal equilibrium by releasing natural chemicals that build up during the stress response. Medical research has shown that a great deal of ill health is directly related to the lack of physical activity. Research also shows that active people have more stamina, resist illness, and stay trim. They have more self-confidence, are less depressed and even late in life, and are still working energetically at new projects.
Our bodies are designed for motion, and it is valuable for us to establish a proper balance between rest and activity.