While this quote is philosophical in nature, this month I’m giving you some very practical, actionable ideas for your Joyinmovement toolbox.
In July of 2010 a very interesting article appeared in Psychology Today magazine. It was written by Alan Fogel, a professor of Psychology at University of Utah. Below are the first two paragraphs.
Slow Movement with Awareness: Better than Exercise?
by Alan Fogel
Cardiovascular exercise is now known to be essential for health and well-being. If exercise is your only form of movement, however, it is not a very balanced diet. There is mounting evidence that slow movement, with body sense awareness, has astounding health benefits by itself and in combination with regular exercise routines.
According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, there are a growing number of pain clinics and integrative medicine centers that offer slow movement, awareness-based therapies (like hatha yoga and tai chi) for pain in a wide variety of conditions including “pain caused by cancer and cancer treatments, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases and conditions.” Throw away the pills? Stop getting injections? Scrap the pain management therapy groups? Stop the sweaty workouts? Maybe not entirely, but regular slow movement classes are increasingly seen as having essential “nutrients” for the body.
You can read the article for yourself, but I wanted to pull out a few points and highlight them for you.
**“Some experts suggest that these slow methods increase the parasympathetic relaxation response which in turn reduces the stress response, which promotes immune function that inhibits inflammation and stimulates healing.” This, plus BODY SENSING, is how the benefits accrue.
I’ve written many times about how we’ll hear more and more about how inflammation is at the root of so many of our disease processes and that the ability to keep inflammation at bay is what will keep us healthier long term. Inhibiting inflammation: that’s the key and can be achieved both through neurological pathways, as this article suggests, as well as by nutritional choices.
**“Moving slowly and with awareness promotes all of these benefits. Cardiovascular exercise with body sense has more benefits than exercising while otherwise preoccupied. Interval exercise, with frequent rest periods giving time to pay attention to the body, has benefits over and above long workouts. Slow movement is like Slow Food in which all acts related to eating – shopping, preparing, ingesting, and digesting – are done with awareness and presence.”
The benefits of interval exercise over and above longer workouts continues to receive much warranted attention. It’s interesting to note where interval exercise falls in the spectrum of movement benefits.
I’ve written about interval exercise and its benefits many times over the years, but maybe we’re due for another Joyinmovement newsletter with interval training as a focus. There are SO many ways to incorporate intervals into your fitness routines, so if you aren’t doing some form of intervals on a regular basis, add them in. Many times, by myself or when I’m teaching a class, I’ll find a hill and we’ll go up and down the hill over and over again, working with an interval approach to the exercise.
**Besides slow movement practices like Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Akido, which have been around forever, Fogel mentions newer 20th century ones like Feldenkrais Method, Rosen Movement, and Nia, which are all worth exploring. I’d also like to add Z-Health to that list. So there are as many choices for slow movement practices as there are ways to incorporate intervals!
** THIS MAY BE MY FAVORITE PART OF HIS ARTICLE!
“Aquatic versions of all these methods can be done and are sometimes offered as classes. After you’ve sampled some different approaches, you can create your own practice by combining movements from different methods into your daily routine. You can move while you do your household chores or in a dedicated session. You can opt for music or silence, land or water, standing or sitting or lying down. Move slowly and with awareness of sensations from muscles and joints, postural sway and stability, and any emotional feelings that these movements bring up for you. Rest frequently and let yourself feel the parasympathetic relaxation response (feelings of slowing down, presence, relaxed breathing, sighs, and perhaps tears of relief).”
“The most important factor is that the practice appeals to you, that you enjoy going to the classes or doing the movement on your own, and that you feel enlivened when you get done.”
I think Fogel may be spying on me!
After I swim, for instance, I have so many mobility movements I choose from to practice that I’m usually in the water an extra 15 minutes or so while I sense my hips, shoulders, spine, energy blockages and move to release any tensions I feel. I take regular movement breaks from my work and writing, too.
It’s your body, so design your movement practices to suit you! Once you understand the principles like slow moving with awareness or benefiting from intervals, and couple them with body sensing, it really does open up so many possibilities and that’s when the real JOY in MOVEMENT awakens.
I may not be a Dr. of Psychology like Fogel, but I definitely feel like Dr. JIM (JoyInMovement). Returning to my opening quote, use this harvest season to enjoy all the Joyinmovement you deserve!