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Exercise or movement?

The notion of exercise has always put me off getting up and moving because it conjures up images of efforting, intensity and pushing myself hard, of going for the burn and working up a sweat. The concept feels unnatural, regimented and very modern, terribly 21st century. Movement on the other hand is suggestive of flowing with nature and engaging in an activity which cares for my body rather than challenges it, constantly tests it and drives it to its physical limits.

So I am definitely a movement kind of girl rather than a strict exercise regime type! But having said that, it plays an important role in my day to day life and I undoubtedly reap many benefits from it. The discovery of Jane Fonda’s California Workout many years ago literally changed my health forever – it was a book with step by step, black and white illustrations for each exercise and an accompanying cassette tape which talked you through the session, and it is a form of ”exercise” which continues to suit me because I can carry it out five mornings a week, from the comfort of my own home, on my own terms and at a time which fits in with my schedule. I add to that an evening walk which gives me some fresh air and a chance to relax and let go – this is my meditation opportunity – and this whole routine fills me with energy, vitality and a deep, overall sense of wellbeing which has worked fabulously well for me for most of my adult life, and will undoubtedly continue to do so.

Dynamic Ageing clients often tell me that they simply do not have the time to incorporate movement into their high-stress, high achieving lives as their schedules are already full to overflowing – to which my reply is “find it”, even if it is only fifteen minutes. Let go of some other activity if necessary, but find the time to move your body and you will be amazed at the difference it makes to how you feel day in day out, both physically and mentally. Furthermore, this is very much a case of movement for health today, longevity tomorrow.

In fact, it is amazing how quickly the positive results of a lifestyle filled with movement start to appear and then one day, not that far down the line, you suddenly become aware of what it feels like to live in a healthy, strong and capable body again, whatever your age. The human body was simply not designed to sit all day and yet that is what most of us do in the 21st century!

Let’s take a look at just a minuscule selection of the benefits. Flexibility, weight loss, heart health, muscle mass and get-up-and-go are well known, but have a look at the following six lesser known gains to get an idea of how regular movement can impact your current and long-term health:-

· Levels of glutathione, widely considered the most powerful anti-ageing antioxidant, decline in the body with age but regular movement boosts them

· A sedentary lifestyle depletes the hormones which keep us youthful

· Movement supports the brain in countless way - it optimises its immune system, increases the size of its most important memory structure, improves executive function (as in multi-tasking, planning and self-control), it even increases brain volume and improves cognitive performance

· It lowers insulin and improves blood sugar levels, which is CRUCIAL to Dynamic Ageing

· It decreases the risk of osteoporosis

· It helps to burn off anxiety

Admittedly, the older we are, the more difficult it can be to change the unhealthy patterns we may have had for decades, but stick with it because once daily, brisk, fun movement becomes a habit, it will turn into an automatic part of your present, your future, your very existence – and you will never look back. It is never too late so let’s get moving!

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