Practice: Exercise

A healthy mind enables a healthy body, and a healthy body enables a healthy mind. Finding spiritual enlightenment and peace requires a strong and healthy mind and thus it is essential that we take good care of our body.

A healthy body requires a strong and happy mind, good nutrition and regular exercise. In this practice, I will list some pointers to get started with regular exercise:

Walking

If there is any form of exercise that our body has been designed for, it is walking. Before our modern sedentary days, we would have spent most of our days walking about. It is usually not practical for us to do so anymore. However, we can try to walk at every opportunity. Note that the faster we walk, the greater the benefit for our health. It has also been shown that spending time outdoors in a natural environment can help boost our mood; thus a walk in the forest should be preferred to walking on a treadmill.

Resources

  • Walking for Good Health: This excellent resource from our local state government gives a good overview of the benefits of walking and how best to go about it.

Running

There are few animals our size that run as slow as we do. However, running is another form of exercise that is very natural for us. The advantage of running is that it is an excellent exercise for our cardiovascular system. It has also been shown that running is good to reduce stress and for our cognitive development.

Resources

  • NHS – How to run correctly: Running may come natural to us but there are still plenty of things to keep in mind all of which are listed on this page.

Body-weight exercises

Especially for those short on time, high intensity interval training and other forms of body-weight exercises have shown to provide similar health benefits to more time-intensive forms of exercise. The idea is that short bursts of very intense exercise will trigger similar biochemical responses in our bodies than longer stretches of exercise will do. I must say that I am a little bit sceptical of this claim; it just seems a bit too good to be true. I think that body-weight and high intensity interval training are a good complement to other forms of exercise but not necessarily a complete replacement.

Resources

Weight training

Weight training has been shown to provide numerous benefits especially for the elderly. Weight training can help keep our muscles and bones strong and prevent injury. I think weight training should be practised in moderation though, especially in younger people, since other forms of exercise, especially those working our cardiovascular system can provide more significant benefits for our health and mind.

Resources

Stretching

Back pain is one of the most common causes of missed work days for office workers. Weight training and body-weight training can go a long way to alleviate the issues from too much sitting and computer work. However it is also essential to do stretching regularly, especially after long sessions at the desk or after doing exercises.

Resources

  • Fitness Blender: Fitness Blender also contains a nice collection of stretching, yoga and pilates videos

There are innumerable other forms of exercise we may engage in, from playing soccer or tennis, rowing, mountain climbing to bicycling. I have chosen the above exercises since I believe anyone, no matter the fitness level, time availability or access to equipment can engage in these. That is not to say that other forms of exercise are inferior. In fact, the best way to exercise is mix as many different forms of exercise as possible (as long as they are not harmful for us).

Image credit: Wikimedia

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