"Moving your body grows your brain." - Daniel J. Siegel, MD
It's as simple as the statement above. Physical stimulation, both passive and active, supports creativity, mental and physical health, happiness, and brain growth. Exposing yourself to new physical experiences, learning new skills, practicing and refining existing skills, expanding your capabilities ever so gently from wherever you are now, results in your brain releasing certain neurohormones. These neurohormones support your brain in laying down new neural networks. The laying down of new neural networks is how your brain stays healthy and grows!
By reinforcing neural networks that result from exposing yourself to new experiences and information in multiple ways you are keeping your brain growing regardless of your age and supporting it to be more efficient at remembering new information and connecting that information to what you already know. Maintaining a flexible, capable brain is vital for brain health and for designing and implementing a life you love.
Physical Time is also crucial for emotional health.
Stress hormones are disassembled in the lungs, liver, kidney, and through the skin when exercising strenuously. Stress hormones, in addition to compromising immunity and sugar metabolism, interrupt the transmission of information in and out of the prefrontal cortex. When you are experiencing significant fear or anger you are unable to think logically, process your emotions effectively, experience pleasure, or relax. The more physically engaged you are, the quicker your body can disassemble the stress hormones coursing through your bloodstream.
On top of deconstructing the hormones that create stress and anxiety, when engaged in prolonged (20 minute plus) physical activity your body produces endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s natural opiates. Endorphins contribute to feelings of relaxation, peace, and pleasure.
The next time you are experiencing significant fear when there is no immediate threat (heart pounding, breaking out into a sweat, tunnel vision focus on what you are afraid of, etc.) or blinding anger (wanting to lash out verbally or physically) consider excusing yourself for a few minutes to go for a short walk, climb up and down the stairs a number of times, or if you are in a meeting and can’t go out, go to the bathroom and run in place. After you give yourself Physical Time, even if it is only a few minutes, you will be able to think clearer and see the situation more objectively.
- increasing peristaltic action in the intestines, making elimination faster and more effective,
- strengthening the heart and circulation thereby sending blood to the kidneys to filter the byproducts of metabolism and toxins out of the blood through the urine
- encourages active sweating which pushes toxins out through the pores of the skin
Physical Time keeps your body cleaner from the inside out. It increases strength and flexibility. Your confidence increases, you look and move better, and you have more energy to put towards your life pursuits. Even sexuality is enhanced with regular physical activity.
Physical Time ranges from gentle to extreme. Extreme physical activity on a regular basis is not necessary for well-being and is often if not always detrimental in the long run. Gentle activities like massage, walking, restorative yoga, swimming, and casual bicycling are equally effective in supporting health & well-being as more intense activities like running, tennis, softball, kayaking, surfing, golf, rock climbing, aerobics classes, Pilates, etc.
Physical Time can be built into your day in simple ways:
- take the stairs whenever possible,
- park further from your destination to walk more
- dance, stretch, play while doing chores
Movement in every way, shape, and form (other than extreme) supports you in your life!
No one can make you move... but you.
By providing the stimulation of gentle Physical Time some way every day and more strenuous activity, whatever that is for your body, a few times a week, you'll feel better, your brain will grow, and you will look and be healthier and more fit. You will have the energy to meet life’s challenges and create, implement, and maintain a life you enjoy living. Go ahead, move!
Post by Lisa Brick
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