True exercise: More than just physical fitness Written by Brendan Mooney Psychologist
It is natural for our bodies to regularly move as a way to maintain flexibility, strength, and vitality. Exercise can support in releasing toxins from our body along with assisting in digestion and several other functions. Overall, exercise is key in supporting our ongoing mental health and wellbeing.
However, how many of us consider the actual quality we exercise in on a moment-to-moment basis?
For example, people often report that when they exercise they think of other things, such as what they are going to eat for dinner or what they need to do to finish a project at work. Whilst society may lead us to believe that this is an efficient way to multitask, perhaps moving in this way is akin to moving our bodies on automatic pilot? Have we considered what effect moving in this way could have on our bodies’ long term?
In society there is a lot of talk about exercising, generally focusing on the fact that we ought to do more of it. However there is very little talk about the actual quality we exercise in.
Even the simplicity of consciously choosing to move our bodies gently makes a big difference to feeling more at ease and connected with ourselves during exercise. Although how often do we tend to get caught up in thinking about other things and not consciously know whether our movements are gentle?
Whilst exercise can be a mere functional activity that we do, it can be a great opportunity to deepen our relationship with our bodies. Hence the question:
Are we exercising in a quality that truly supports our bodies or are we merely going through the function of it?
Ever worked out in front of a television? Or got lost in conversation with a friend whilst working out at the gym? Whilst these examples may seem innocent enough, are we really aware of our bodies at these times? Is it possible that we can easily overdo (or underdo) exercise because we are not actually present enough within ourselves to notice?
Whilst we can say that daily exercise is supportive to our health for a variety of physical and psychological reasons, perhaps we ought to bring much greater focus to the actual intention and quality we perform exercise (and all our movements) in. For example, do you exercise to reduce stress? Whilst this may be effective in reducing the symptoms of stress, does it really address the underlying issue? Perhaps a more enriching relationship with exercise would also involve dealing with why we are feeling stressed in the first place, which would allow us to simply enjoy exercising without also needing it for emotional relief.
If you are not very deliberately and consciously aware of whether your movements are gentle on a moment-to-moment basis, how do you know that you are not moving in a quality that is not-so-gentle?
More will be written in an upcoming series of articles on this topic. If you would like to read more be sure to subscribe to receive email updates.
BIOGRAPHY Psychologist Brendan Mooney works with adults, adolescents and children. With a genuine interest in people's well-being, Brendan brings a warmth, practicality and an equality that supports clients to truly address underlying issues and blockages that are preventing them from moving forward.