January 2018: Exercise as Therapy
Life is full of obstacles and riding its coat tail is stress. Media oozes millions of anti-stress remedies, which is overwhelming in itself. Just like our individual uniqueness, techniques will work for some and not others.
From counseling and cognitive behaviour therapy, to wine and Jesus, I’ve tried almost all. Deep breathing, giving attention to the rise and fall of my chest. Done it. Visualizing worries as balloons disappearing into the atmosphere. Yup. Increasing Vitamin B12 and Magnesium in my diet. Check. Next on my list is to hot box my apartment in lavender. I’ll let you know how that goes. No matter what I have ventured into, my constant will always be exercise. Physical fitness is my therapy.
Exercise stimulates the brain to release endorphins, our bodies’ natural feel-good hormones. It improves sleep, overall health and provides a sense of accomplishment. Fitness burns excess energy directly related to stress. The body was designed for a fight or flight response, which when threatened releases adrenaline. Since today’s stressors do not require us to physically fight or run, the adrenaline remains as unused energy. This can cause anxiety or antsy feelings. Cardio takes care of that.
Zumba is the perfect cardio pick-me-up. An hour of Zumba burns between 350 to 650 calories. Periodically letting loose in a dance class and stumbling through Latin routines lifts spirits for this two-stepping country girl. I will never be able to drop it like it’s hot, unless it’s a French fry. Even still, I leave the studio feeling light, having sweated, danced and laughed with others.
I regularly attended yoga classes when my ex-husband and I were separating. As I elongated my body into warrior and mountain poses, tears flowed down my face. The instructor probably thought I was nuts. Pushing past the embarrassment, I allowed the tension to melt off my body, replacing it with an inner peace. Poses that release tension, increase blood flow and reduce stress are: eagle pose, standing forward fold pose, child’s pose and reclining butterfly. Put your Google skills to work and check them out.
My chest is tight almost on a daily basis. To rid this feeling I have to fatigue my body, which in turn exhausts my mind. Running outside forces me to focus on my route, breathing and reaching my target distance. Stress can’t chase me here. I’ve sweated in the sunshine, soaked in the rain and sported a snowsuit in the dead of winter. Physical fitness therapy is a must for clarity in my life. It has helped me through many twists and turns these past few years.
Amidst all your aspirations for 2018, I challenge you to move your body to nurture, heal and strengthen your mind. Burn extra energy at Drumflex or go shake your jiggly to the floor with Danielle and Amanda. You’ll be glad you did!