Last time in the series, I talked about the importance of your mindset in achieving health long-term. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about using movement to enhance your health.
Why Moving is Important
I, personally, have always loved exercise. I’m definitely not an athlete, but I do love to move intentionally. I’ve been stretching every day for 15 years and doing some sort of “lady-like” workouts several times a week for almost 20 years. However, this is probably the part of health coaching that I know the least amount about. I research what other people know about movement, try a few things out, and see what makes sense most to me. So what I’m sharing is mostly personal experience with lots of resources for you to learn more from others.
The most common reasons I’ve seen for exercise include increasing your heart rate and taking deeper breaths. While I think those are important (especially the breathing!), I also like to think about movement from a different perspective.
The first reason I want to add that movement is important is so your lymphatic system receives the support needed to pump and drain properly. After finding exercise specifically designed to move the lymph, and using and improving the techniques for about 7 years, I strongly advocate for lymph-moving exercise. My body moves better, my neck isn’t sore all the time, and my posture has improved from these focused movements.
The second reason I believe movement is important is so that our nerve pathways stay open and clicking along freely. This is especially important for homeopathy-users, as a nourished nervous system means you have a better chance of your remedies working successfully.
Move to Support the Pump
Changing my mindset from “you have to sweat or it doesn’t count” to “move so the lymph is opened up and pumping” was very freeing for me. I learned this new way of thinking about movement from T-Tapp workouts (here’s a good overview). Unfortunately, when Teresa Tapp passed away last year, the company didn’t survive and the website is no longer available. You may be able to find DVDs floating around Amazon.
Thankfully, there are a few trainers out there who have carried on the torch. My favorite is Margaret Barry. I used her pregnancy workout for my entire 4th pregnancy! And she has several more to choose from. She also has lots of tips on YouTube.
Another one of my favorite ways to move is to walk with purpose. I will do this by just walking with T-Tapp posture (tailbone tucked, shoulders back, neck and spine straight) or by doing these fantastic walking workouts by Gina I found a couple years ago. She is rebranding at uptothebeat.com, but I have her original Dance that Walk video that is amazing and fun (and easy, so posture can be maintained). And you can find her on YouTube, too.
Another excellent way to move the lymph is by rebounding or jumping on a trampoline. This can be as fun as jumping around with the kids on the outside trampoline or as simple as walking on a small rebounder while you watch TV.
These are a few of my favorite ways to get the lymph moving, but as Dr. Krista likes to say, “Any movement is better than no movement.” So, I encourage you to pick something and try it out!
Move to Open Pathways
This is movement that would typically not be considered cardio. Think stretching and deep breathing, although you don’t have to limit yourself to that. You also want to think about movement here that will improve your posture, as your goal is to stretch the fascia and improve alignment to keep your nervous system healthy.
One of the most obvious ways to do this is by doing yoga. As a Christian, I’m on the fence about yoga and it’s spiritual influences. But I have used it many times, especially during pregnancy and postpartum, because there is just nothing else I can find that does the trick. I really like SarahBethYoga on YouTube because she has many options to choose from and runs a peaceful class even without the meditation part.
I have also been trying PraiseMoves as a Christian alternative to yoga and so far I like it. I haven’t tried the advanced workouts yet, but most people would be able to do her beginner and intermediate workouts with ease.
An interesting option that I used a lot in my last pregnancy is called TangoFlex. It’s kind of a mix between stretching, Pilates, and balance exercises. I’ll add some caution that even her beginner workouts are pretty intense, but they add great variety to my workouts.
You can also search online for stretches for whatever ails you. Or you can pick up a book about stretching. My favorites are Stretching to Stay Young (this has great sequences for all kinds of activities) and Pain-Free Posture Handbook (functional stretches to improve rolled shoulders, forward leaning neck, etc.).
The last thing I want to mention but I’ve never had the chance to try, is ballet. As I watch my daughters in their classes, I can’t help but think it’s the perfect exercise. It includes stretching, practicing good posture, improving balance and core strength, focusing your mind and your breath, and even some cardio. I have tried Barre exercises, but there’s something about the art of ballet that is achieved during class that you simply can’t get from a 10-minute-better-abs-fast type of thing.
I have read that martial arts has a similar effect to the movements of ballet as well. Just a side note for men or ladies not interested in yoga pants or ballet shoes ;).
Find a Practitioner
I try to do one type of exercise from each of the above categories every day. Realistically, I will do alignment movement, like stretching, every single day and get the lymphatic movements in 4-5 days a week.
I also like to go to a bodyworker fairly often so that someone is helping me get the movement in that I need to stay healthy. When my health was at its worst, I was getting chiropractic adjustments every couple of weeks. Now I try to do some sort of bodywork every 2 months or so. There are a lot of options out there, and I’ve tried several of them!
I highly recommend finding someone who can provide chiropractic adjustments, therapeutic (lymphatic) massages, or Thai massage on a regular basis. Here’s a fun idea, too – ask a loved one to learn Thai massage so you can do it at home!
I also really love different modalities that focus on fascia work or acupoints. These include acupuncture, strain-counterstrain (or cranial-sacral) work, and foot zoning.
For the DIY-ers (like me) it can be hard to outsource parts of your health regimen to other people, but it is so worth it to make the effort and arrange your budget to include one or two of these practices in your life.
P.S. Having the same beliefs as the person helping you is not a requirement – I’ve been to all sorts of bodyworkers and have benefited from all of them. But finding a practitioner (I happen to have found a chiropractor) who shares my beliefs has been one of the best things I’ve done in my life.
Dr. Krista takes all clients regardless of their beliefs, but if you are a Christian looking for a holistic approach to health, Dr. Krista might be just who you’re looking for!
Get on Dr. Krista’s waitlist here (she launches her virtual office January 2022).
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Look for these other posts in this series:
- Step 1: Feel Better NOW
- Step 2: Choose your Mindset
- Step 3: Choose How to Move (you are here)
- Step 4: Choose How to Eat
- Step 5: Maintain Balance