So far this spring session of Caring Circle/Restorative Yoga, we have looked at Inflammation in the body and how it can effect the way we may or may not be contributing to our own chronic illness. We have focused our health through the lens of chronic inflammation in regards to the foods we eat, how those foods can either harm us help us to heal. We have mused about how our work or personal lifestyles choices (stress) may or may not may contribute to our present day health.
Now I would like to shift gears as to how physical movement in our lives can either help to lower chronic inflammation or exasperate and raise inflammation in the body.
This idea was first presented to me via a platform called Eat Burn Sleep. This platform studies all aspects of lowering chronic inflammation and also provides movement and yoga videos. It is a yearly subscription out of the UK. The creator, Yalda Alaoui, states that we do not need to work our bodies into a painful or over tired state to get the benefits of exercise or movement. She believes that a high/aggressive state of over exercise is actually inflammatory in itself! She feels that exercise that incorporates light physical resistance and gentle movement, like yoga, walking, planks, squats etc are enough to build muscle mass that we need to stay healthy and lower inflammation. That this way of moving is much better for us than physically over stressing the body into an inflamed state.
So, that got me searching the internet to see if I could find confirmation of this theory.
Indeed, movement is very important in helping to lower inflammation in the body and brings so many benefits not only to the mind and body, but that over exercise or even short bursts of over exercise are often more harmful than the "slow and steady" approach, especially in older adults because we "repair' at a slower rate as we age.
This brings me to the quote that I often use when teaching yoga, to all ages.
"Be the tortoise, not the Hare" when it comes to your practice. The Hare may be the first to get to the destination but he is tired, and fatigued and probably missed much of the sights along the way. The tortoise moves more slowly and eventually gets to his/her destination. She not only enjoys the journey (life) with full awareness of the beauty of the world, has brought her house with her(sense of well being), feels less fatigued and more fulfilled with his/her progress!
My points being, that we should be looking for ways to keep moving in the direction of our dreams and aspirations, without feeling like life is a race and that it should be physically hard to get there. We can still get all the benefits of moving our bodies in our daily lives (greater strength and flexibility, cardio vascular and respiratory health, better range of motion for the joints, better body composition etc,) without being stressed that it need to be so hard to achieve. Let's step back a bit and examine what we like to do for our movement and acknowledge it for what it is, physical movement! (Gardening would be a great example). As long as you are not sitting in chair or sleeping all day, you are moving! It all adds up and then when you want more movement, choose one that you enjoy as it will be one you want to return to on a consistent basis.
Remember, if it does not bring you Ease, Energy, or Enjoyment (EEE) you will probably not continue to do it! Let's find the balance between movement that heals and movement that can harm us.
"Be the Tortoise not the Hare"
Below are some more web sites that I though brought good research and introspection to our topic of movement and inflammation. The first link/paper on long but I wanted to include it so you could see the research behind it. I have given the summary below it in case you prefer not to read it all. 😉
In summary, regular exercise reduces fat mass and adipose tissue inflammation which is known to contribute to systemic inflammation [58, 59]. Independent of losses of fat mass, exercise also increases muscle production of IL-6 which is known to reduce TNF-α production and increase anti-inflammatory cytokines .Oct 29, 2011
Exercising and Inflammation Regular exercise tends to lower markers of systemic inflammation.
Over-exercising, however, can create increased markers of chronic inflammation. When you over-train, you can become systemically inflamed in the process. The stress remains, and the inflammation will not subside. Feb 23, 2018
What are your beliefs and habits regarding exercise. Do you have a positive or negative association with the word "exercise"?