The 5 Pillars of Health: Pillar #2 - Move Your Body!
Updated: Jan 23
I have always believed exercise is a key not only to physical health but to peace of mind… Exercise dissipates tension, and tension is the enemy of serenity. ~Nelson Mandela
Let me guess—you’re thinking, “Exercise is good for my health? Tell me something I don’t know!”
The truth is, we’ve ALL heard we need to exercise to stay healthy…but the importance of moving your body every day cannot be overstated!
Movement increases the circulation of blood and lymph, which enhances nutrient and oxygen delivery to cells and aids in the removal of waste products. Moving lymph has the added benefit of boosting immune function, since the lymphatic system is the “highway” that your immune cells use to travel to all parts of your body!
But the benefits don’t stop there! Regular exercise also dramatically decreases your risk of chronic disease. Multiple studies have shown that as little as 1 hour of activity 3 times per week can reduce dementia in the elderly by 50%; anxiety by 48%; depression by 30%; and the development of diabetes by 58%!
Regular exercise also increases energy levels, improves sleep, lowers blood pressure, decreases stress, strengthens and builds bones, and reduces the perception of pain.
If preventing chronic disease and boosting quality of life aren't impressive enough, a recent study actually demonstrated that exercise has a direct and positive impact on the composition of microbes that live in your gut—regardless of what you’re eating!
And if you don’t know yet, the microbes in your gut play a HUGE role in overall health by impacting digestion and nutritional status, metabolism, detoxification, hormone balance, immune function (including inflammation, allergies and autoimmunity), blood sugar regulation, and more! Amazing, right?!
If exercise is so good for us, why aren’t more people moving their bodies every day?
My guess? Time. Or rather a perceived lack of time.
But here’s the truth. When it comes to self-care activities like exercise, no one can do it for you! And if you want to be healthy, you have to move your body!
So what does that mean?
It means you’ve got to do what none of us particularly enjoys doing: you have to get real with yourself, examine how you are spending your day and what you are prioritizing, and start making time for one of the most important things you can do for your health!
And I’m going to make it as easy for you as I can!
3 Simple Ways to Increase Your Physical Activity & Health
Start by incorporating the following suggestions three times weekly, with the goal of eventually doing this (or your own version of it) on a daily basis. By combining aerobic activity with stretching and brief high-intensity intervals, you'll be giving your body a well-rounded dose of health-promoting exercise!
1. Enjoy a 30-minute power walk or jog. If you are struggling to find 30 minutes during your day, you can break this into three 10-minute or two 15-minute stints—just make them count!
2. Upon rising, do this 7-minute, at-home, no-gym workout. Yep, you read that right—7 minutes! And when your body is ready for a bigger challenge, check out the advanced version.
BONUS: In addition to knocking this off your to-do list, doing this workout first thing in the morning has the added benefit of stimulating your Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR), which is a natural increase in cortisol levels by almost 50% that should occur within the first hour of waking.
Many individuals with adrenal dysfunction and circadian rhythm disturbances have a lackluster CAR and benefit greatly from kickstarting their adrenals by incorporating a brief interval of high-intensity exercise soon after waking.
If you have a hard time getting going in the mornings, rely on coffee or other caffeinated beverages to start your day, or have trouble falling or staying asleep at night, try this 7-minute routine every morning for the next couple of weeks!
3. Stretch for 15 minutes. Follow along with this great yoga sequence, perfect for a morning or evening routine (and totally appropriate if you’re a beginner!).
So now it's up to you. Are you willing to find at least 7 minutes in your day to improve your health by moving your body?
Or to look at it another way, are you willing to limit your sleeping and sitting to 23 hours per day?
What are your favorite ways to move your body?
*Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise routine. While exercise is necessary for maintaining health and generally safe when executed mindfully, your particular health picture and needs may not be compatible with certain exercises or approaches.