Why I exercise
I have been not sedentary for my entire life. This doesn’t mean that I have been running around in circles but almost. I can’t sit still. But where does this come from. Anxiety, nervousness, boredom?
When I do move, whether it is intentional or not, it distracts me, redirects my mind, allows my thoughts to wander OR if it is intentional, I have almost 100% of the time felt some sort of release following exercise, both physically and mentally.
While exercising/moving I get to zone in on my body and zone out of any current mental pre-occupations.
One of the things I like about exercise the most is the kinesthetic feedback I get from my body. I like the feeling of a good muscle contraction, control over the limb involved, and the resting tone that remains after.
I am very aware of when I have some new soreness, swelling, bump or other various body asymmetries come up. My hands are just drawn to the area and then voila!, There is something there. Gratefully never serious.
When I do have pain, I can usually deal with it and complain very little on the outside. On the inside I do get irritated especially if it lasts a little longer that I anticipated, resolving slower than expected. I don’t ever lose the hope that it will get better.
Exercise and injury
I actually sprained my ankle on a Thursday many weeks ago. It was simply from running across the street and turning my ankle over on the streetcar track. Initially, I knew I was injured but I could still walk. The limp reduced over the next several steps but I had to walk very consciously and with awareness the rest of the way. It was not until the end of the day, as my ankle swelled and the pain increased, that I realized this was not a mild sprain and would preclude my exercise activities.
So I did something out the ordinary for me. I asked for help to cover my Essentrics class the following evening and I spent that evening and the next with my foot elevated with intermittent icing. I taped my ankle for work and sat as much as possible during my workday. The relative rest really helped. By the second morning following the sprain, I noted further improvement in my range of motion and continued to rest it for the day. I decided that I would be able to teach my Sunday morning Essentrics class, with taping and a few modifications. I made it through the class with some mild arch pain that subsided over the course of the day. I continued to tape it daily until it is fully resolved to prevent accidental re-injury.
So I was amazed at the effect of REST. Historically, I have had multiple sprains, but rarely if ever, reduced my activity level to promote healing. I usually just kept up with the maximum level activity possible, allowed pain and swelling to occur, and waited several weeks for the strain to resolve. This time, I continued on a moderate path, of relative rest (not walking to work, not stationary cycling and not teaching my usual number of classes).
The benefits of relative rest shouldn’t be a big surprise to me, but despite my knowledge, I am like many people, who tough it out, thinking that less is not better. I don’t like to bring attention to myself, and frequently suffer quietly under wraps. I am not exactly sure exactly where that pattern has stemmed from but ultimately, I am on a new path, to a more sustainable body, hence Sustainablebod.ca has birthed itself as my perspectives, knowledge, and desire to maintain a healthy ‘older’ body has come to the forefront more than ever.
Take your number one reason for exercising and think about where you are now and where you want to be. Are you already there? Do you need to maintain or improve? Is it an emotional, physical, physiological or cognitive reason for exercising? Is it realistic? Maybe you just want to have fun?
For example, why am I doing this and should I be doing this now? Is there something else I should be doing in addition to what I am doing? Is this enough? Is it too much? Why is my (insert body part) hurting? It really is not that easy to know how much you need, how often and what type of movement is best for you. It no doubt will be an ongoing process of re-evaluation. There is no one size fits all.
But I am almost positive that if you begin with the less complex activity as a starting point you will likely find something that is useful and safe to do. When your goals become clearer the path should also become clearer. It can be a fun ride if you don’t get hung up on details. Unless you have already done it before. But even then, bodies and circumstances change.
My suggestion is to be willing to question but don’t let these questions stop you from deciding to move. Its always better to have completed the simplest of tasks than nothing at all. You can’t reflect unless you have recent up to date experiences to reflect on. Give yourself some new information to work with. And that information comes from your body and your experience inside it.