This article asks the question whether it is necessary to exercise ‘hard out’ (to the point of pain or exhaustion) to obtain health benefits, or whether you could obtain these benefits by exercising in a way that supports your body, in appreciation of the body. The author asks what ideals and beliefs we have around exercise and whether these are causing us harm.
It is well accepted that ‘health’ is not merely the absence of illness or infirmity. It is a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” (World Health Organisation). In other words, we could be said to be ‘healthy’ when we, in our daily lives, feel naturally vital and light, full of energy and mental clarity, and enjoy engaging with people.
The benefits of exercising for health are well-known. Regular, moderate exercise has been shown in many studies to be beneficial to all the systems in the body, particularly the cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, muscular and skeletal systems; as well as ‘social’ benefits. But is it necessary to exercise ‘hard out’ to achieve these benefits, i.e. do we really need to exercise to the point of pain or exhaustion, or to our maximum limits of endurance; and what happens to our bodies when we do so?
An article in the NZ Herald, “Fitness can be Bad for your Health” (March 23, 2014) highlighted the huge increase in injuries in the fitness industry in New Zealand over the last two years (there were 23,325 Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) claims made by New Zealanders injured while ‘fitness training’ or in the gym in 2013 –a rise of 10,000 claims on the previous two years. Further, these were just the third highest claims –behind rugby and football. This increase in injuries (and even disabilities and deaths) is also occurring in the world of competitive and professional sport.
Why is the number of injuries increasing, both in recreational and professional exercise? Why are workouts causing us harm? This question is being addressed in a research programme by ACC and Exercise New Zealand. The latter body said there has been a 35% increase in people undertaking exercise programmes in the past five years in New Zealand, but more New Zealanders were hurting after working out.
Is it possible that it is how we are exercising that is resulting in these injuries?
Could the deeper ‘how’ be in the way we exercise? Indeed, we are often exercising to extreme (‘hard out’); and this is now proving, through the increase in injuries, to be harmful to our bodies.
Could having the injury be asking us to re-assess not only how we exercise, but the kind of relationship we have with our body and how we treat ourselves? For example, perhaps pushing our body to the very edge of its limits is not the best way to go to be ‘healthy’. Rather, is it possible that the best way to exercise is in a way that supports the body, in appreciation of the body itself, so that:
· Our muscles strengthen without hardening;
· Our lung capacity/breathing efficiency is increased without strain on our heart and muscles;
· Our bone density is increased without putting pressure on our joints;
· ‘Stress’ hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol are reduced/eliminated without our being continually in the ‘flight/fight/freeze’ part of our nervous system;
· Our bodies find their natural shape;
· Our ability to focus/concentrate increases; and with it our confidence; and
· We exercise/interact with others in a way that brings harmony to our relationships?
Perhaps we could choose to exercise in a way that brings harmony and balance to our body, instead of injury, fatigue and exhaustion. Is it possible that if we really listened to our body before, during and after exercise, our body would not be compromised?
At GloriousBody you will be supported to let go any harmful ideals and beliefs around exercise, and instead to connect with your body and exercise in a way which will support your body.
This article was inspired by Universal Medicine founder Serge Benhayon. See www.unimedliving.com for more articles on exercising in a way that supports your body.