My clients often ask me, “now that I’m no longer in pain, what kind of exercise should I do so I don’t hurt myself again?” My answer usually goes like this:
Exercise is fun and good for you, so have at it! Once you’ve reversed your Sensory Motor Amnesia, it’s important to integrate your new awareness and control into full body movement. It’s also important to strengthen the new, more balanced posture and movement.
Do what you love to do now that you have awareness and control of your body and movement. Just pay attention! Paying attention and moving within your comfort range is what will help you prevent injury. Challenge yourself, yet be mindful not to go beyond what truly feels good just because you think it’s going to make you healthy.
On page 30 of my book, Move Without Pain, I write about walking, one of the most basic, fundamental activities in the human vocabulary. I write about movement, rather than exercise being the key to long term health. Create a movement-filled life and you’ll generally find your health and fitness to be better than you realize.
Gretchen Reynolds, author of the book, The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer, share a similar outlook (as discussed in a May 2012 New York Times article).
I wanted people to understand…how little exercise you can do in order to get lots and lots of health benefits. Two-thirds of Americans get no exercise at all. If one of those people gets up and moves around for 20 minutes, they are going to get a huge number of health benefits, and everything beyond that 20 minutes is, to some degree, gravy.
Those who know me have heard me mention my mother, Meg Peterson, as an example of one whose movement-filled life has kept her strong, fit and, at the age of 85, still hiking. Yes, she was blessed with good genes, but more importantly, she refused to slow down as she got older. She takes out her own trash, mows her own lawn, walks several miles daily (and incorporates hills when possible) and doesn’t shy away from using the stairs instead of an elevator. And yes…she does her Somatics!
Now, you don’t have to hike in the Himalayas (as in the photo of my mother and me at right) in order to be fit and healthy.
- walk instead of using the car
- pick up the laundry basket and take it upstairs
- take the stairs instead of the elevator
- shop locally and carry your groceries home on foot
- put on music and dance while you cook!
- if you’re on the phone, walk around your house instead of sitting still; your brain will focus better
More than once client have told me that if they don’t feel like they’re ready to drop they’re not exercising hard enough. Robert Sapolsky, author of the best selling book about stress called Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, presents some interesting – and disturbing – facts (pg. 123) about the negative affects of extreme exercise (marathoners, ultra-marathoners and many professional athletes) on bone mass and stress hormone levels. If you love to run marathons, that’s great. Just be aware of the need for bringing your nervous system out of the fight or flight mode (which causes stress hormones to flood your body) afterwards. Do your Somatic Exercises to re-boot the muscular system and give yourself time to recover.
If you aren’t an extreme exerciser, you’re in the majority. Just bring movement of all sorts into your day and that, in addition to sensible nutrition, should stand you in good stead for a long time.