Is your body telling you to exercise?

Your body is an amazing thing. It constantly regulates the 1000’s of processes going on at any one time and tells you reliably when something is out of balance. Unfortunately though, our modern lifestyles demand that we attend to all the business of our work, home or social lives while ignoring the signals that our bodies give to us. This is especially true in relation to body signals indicating ‘stress’. From the Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, this is often described as ‘stagnation’, which as you may imagine points towards a state of ‘stuckness’, ‘pent-upness’ or impared flow (both from the physical and psychological point of view). The cause of this state of stagnation varies significantly between each individual, but generally speaking, this state typically responds very well to doing some exercise.

Here are some of the common signs of stagnation:

  • Ongoing feelings of tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Tension in the jaw muscles
  • Regular tension headaches
  • Feeling bloated or experiencing abdominal pain
  • Feeling of being unable to get a full breath
  • Pain along the bottom edge of the ribs
  • Feeling constantly frustrated or irritable
  • Regular sighing
  • Experiencing mood swings
  • Feeling a sensation of a lump in the throat
  • Feeling low or depressed
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed

These signals can of course indicate a variety of things, but if you are already in quite good health, it is likely to indicate that doing some exercise is a good idea (if you have not exercised regularly for some time and you are concerned about existing health conditions, it is recommended to visit your GP first).

As for the type of exercise, go and give some different activities a try and find which gives you the most relief from these signals. For most of us, exercise at a moderate level will give the most benefit without putting undue stress on the body. A good way to know if you are exercising at a moderate level is to use your breath: increase the intensity of the exercise until you feel slightly puffy and then maintain that level. Current Australian guidelines recommend that we do some exercise on most, if not all days of the week. It is recommended that we do at least 150 – 300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorously intense exercise each week. It is also recommended to do strengthening exercises at least 2 days per week.

So, if your body has been sending you some of these signals, have you tried some exercise today?

Michael Craven is a qualified Exercise Physiologist and remedial massage therapist (including Traditional Chinese Medicine technique). He is available for consultation privately (and claimable through most private health providers) and also in some cases is referred to by GPs for clients requiring Exercise Physiology services to manage chronic health conditions.