What do an anaerobic compost pile and a human who doesn’t move much have in common? They are both stagnant and prime breading grounds for disease. Thankfully, each can be transformed into something rich that nourishes life with the simple introduction of more oxygen, which is exactly what your body gets when you move it.
Movement is good for the body, mind and spirit. It is one of the essential primary foods of life—something that we crave on a deeper level that is beyond food—and its effects extend far beyond 6-pack abs and toned butts.
If you think you have no time for this movement mumbo-jumbo, just look to nature for a little reality check.
What happens in stagnant water? Bacterial growth, mosquito breeding, and algae blooms that choke out other life forms. Nothing you’d want to drink, right?
What happens when air is stagnant, such as in an office or contained space? Oxygen decreases, toxins build up, and people get sick (Sick Building Syndrome, it exists, no joke).
When you sit, you become stagnant, in every sense of the word.
Your circulation slows and brings less oxygen to your brain and organs. Your energy feels sludgy and drops more with each passing hour. Your thoughts can even stagnate, making it hard to concentrate or show up for the task at hand.
When you move, this is what you get…
It gives us a source of energy and motivation to achieve things in life, to go after our dreams, to put things into action and create a life we love living.
That marathon you trained for instilled in you a deeper appreciation for the power of setting goals. Your commitment to commuting by bike has inspired you to create a joyous routine around your true passion—writing—and set aside time every day to work on that book you’ve been dreaming of.
Our lives are an interwoven web of connections. The way we eat and the way we move are good indications of how we live our lives, relate to others, and pursue our dreams (or not).
It fulfills us in a way that nothing else in life can. The feeling after a hard workout, an exciting soccer game, a 100-mile ride, a long day-hike, a lively dance class or an afternoon pulling weeds and digging in the garden—every cell in your body is active, buzzing, and alive.
It provides an outlet for emotions, a space for processing, a way to connect with others, and a method for improving our physical health. There are 100+ ways to move your body. Choose the ones that move you!
Have you ever gone out dancing and felt completely rejuvenated afterward? Have you gone for a run—needing to leave the house because of your frustration with a loved one—only to return home in state of compassion, understanding and total love? That’s the power of movement at work.
The healing takes place on all levels.
Our bodies need movement to be strong and healthy, both physically and mentally. Among it’s numerous benefits, exercise stimulates our bones to continue growing, detoxifies our system, increases healthy digestion and elimination, and enables all systems in the body to function better.
It can lift your mood, clear your mind, reconnect you to your body, increase your self-confidence, and give you a much-needed boost of inspiration and motivation. Not a bad deal for a few coordinated motor movements!
You’re feeling stuck in some aspect of your life: work, relationships, personal growth, finances, etc. Moving your body through the physical world can remove blockages and create movement in stuck emotions and thoughts.
The forward momentum involved in walking, running, cycling and swimming sends subtle messages to your brain that things are moving forward and progressing, that you are not stuck, and that stagnation is not your reality.
We’ve all been faced with hard conversations that need to be had. One of the most effective ways I’ve found to approach them is to take a walk and talk.
This may seem like a simple thing, but having a conversation while walking—especially a difficult one—can change the outcome entirely. How?
1. When you walk with someone, you are both standing side-by-side, on the “same team,” moving towards the same destination. It can change your experience of the conversation from being in opposition to one another, to one of working together and finding a solution.
2. When you walk, your body pumps more oxygen into your system. More oxygen in the brain means clearer thinking, always a plus when talking about big stuff.
3. Movement releases feel-good hormones while decreasing stress and tension. That’s the best kind of hormone cocktail to harmonize a heated or heavy conversation.
4. Walking and talking allows for not-so-awkward moments of silence. Silence is golden. It’s a time to come back to the present, re-evaluate, move out of “defense mode,” and breathe. Walking in beautiful surrounds is a bonus, and can help bring the attention back to the beauty of life itself, in all its challenges and richness.
It drops us back into our body when we’ve spent too much time being obsessively mental about things (definitely guilty of that one). For me, that’s dance, yoga, and wandering in nature. Maybe yoga isn’t for you, but another way of moving is. Explore what connects you to your body, your inspiration, your pleasure and your drive for life.
It bonds us to others when we climb mountains, win the championship game in a club sport, and discuss the fullness of life during morning walks together.
Just as every food affects your energy in different ways (a raw carrot vs. a steak), the same goes for how you move your body. A 2-hour tango class feels quite different than a Hatha yoga session or a day on the weight machines at the gym, and you can use this to your advantage.
Diversifying your movement enables you to cultivate more of the energy that you lack.
If your life is filled with busy schedules, lots of stress, high-pressure situations, or physically demanding work, a high-energy aerobics class or an extended power-lifting session isn’t likely to mellow out that energy.
To come into greater balance, you might benefit from more calming and grounding forms of movement such as yoga, contact dance, biking or walking.
Likewise, if you are more drawn to yoga classes and more gentle forms of movement, you may find greater balance if you include strengthening and grounding types of movement like weight lifting, running or high-energy types of dance.
Whatever form of movement you choose, make sure you’re enjoying it! If it feels like an obligation, I guarantee it will be harder to motivate. There are many alternatives to the gym, so drop all the stories about how exercise isn’t fun and love the way you move.
One of the most effective ways of keeping movement in your life is to create routines that you enjoy and have external accountability. Set a regular time in your week to meet an exercise partner for a run, bike ride, swim, or a dance or yoga class. If you’re having a hard time motivating or showing up for yourself, knowing you have someone else that’s counting on you can change everything.
There’s no doubt about it—movement makes you stronger, healthier and more alive. It has the power to reconnect you with yourself and others, heal your body, release emotions and blockages, and inspire you to live to your fullest potential.
So explore. Commit right now to finding those ways of moving that inspire you. Be honest about the time you spend on things that don’t serve you, and cut one or two of them out to make time in your life. Develop a weekly or monthly pattern for regular movement that makes you feel amazing.
Reap the benefits of a life fully activated. And remember – Stagnation is Disease. Movement is Life.