I am a huge advocate for strength training. Strength training improves bone health, cardiovascular health, flexibility and mobility, mood & self-esteem, enhances brain health, and increases energy levels. Among other things. But I’m also an advocate of listening to your body and finding the right balance of activity & wellness that suits you. Not everyone will benefit from an all strength-based program. Sometimes the body needs something else for various reasons – injury, illness, exhaustion, excessive soreness, etc. All of these signals are the body’s way of communicating what it needs. It’s important to pay attention to these cues and to not suppress or ignore them. In these instances, the body is not asking for more stimulation. It’s asking to decompress. “No pain, no gain” is not a healthy or smart fitness philosophy. It’s more important to move well, move often and consistently, and prevent injuries. That is the key to longevity.
On days where strength training or cardio feels like an absolute impossibility, don’t force yourself to do it. Shift your physical activity into something more restorative. For example, restorative yoga differs from traditional vinyasa or “flow” yoga in that it focuses primarily on letting go of muscular tension as opposed to stretching or lengthening the muscles. Poses are held longer than in a vinyasa practice & are performed by lying passively over props such as blankets & bolsters. These basic, easy to do poses help to relax the muscles & calm the mind. Restorative yoga also benefits the central nervous system & immune system. Restorative poses initiate the “relaxation response,” which lowers the blood pressure, decreases respiration, decreases muscle tension, slows brain waves, & promotes blood flow to vital organs. Good circulation allows immune cells to communicate freely with the pituitary gland, pineal gland, hypothalamus, lymphatic tissues, and other immune cell sites like the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, & skin.
How do you find balance in your routine?