This pandemic that we have been dealing with has changed our workouts in a good way and not so good way.
The good part is that we have slowed down, got outside more and changed our routine – well that’s good and bad really?
The not so good is that the home workouts have become more about intensity and less about good form.
Meaning that a lot of programs have included exercises like burpees, jumps and high volume to give the sense of exhaustion to the workout.
This however is not a way to workout each day – this type of exhaustion can cause injuries and hormone dysfunction especially while trying to manage all the other stress situations at the moment.
(read my How much HIIT training is too much? article to understand the effects)
Gentle exercise is very beneficial at the moment to help level out the central nervous system.
To not over stimulate the sympathetic nervous system where you are in fight and flight.
We are working in this system more than normal at the moment due to the pandemic, so to relieve this system and allow the body to calm down – gentle exercise is perfect.
Exercise methods such as yoga, mediation, walking, gardening, leisure bike rides, swimming, paddling and mobility sessions are a great way to help the body stay healthy, mobile and reduce inflammation.
These exercises can be done daily and some exercises can challenge the body in a gentle way to help open joints and heal instead of exhausting and damaging the joints.
The more you work on your range of motion and joints the more effective workouts can be. I feel the ‘grit’ mentality increases your ego to only go harder or heavier and ignoring the pain and tightness, therefore limiting your range of motion and increasing pain and chance of injury.
To end a workout with a minute of burpees is just a ‘filler’ and leaves the person with that exhausted thought – whereas finishing a workout with stretches, deep belly breaths, care and respect of the body helps to honour your body for the next workout (after a relevant rest).
Gentle exercise can give you the chance to connect the mind to the body and muscles, deep breathing signals to the body to calm down, then you can ‘rest and digest’.
When you’re in a parasympathetic mode ‘rest and digest’ you do exactly that:
– your growth hormone is now in work mode and your muscles grow
– you can digest food so body takes in all nutrients instead of storing them in your fat cells
– your body works in a ‘fat burning’ level not a a level to try to keep you alive
– your body can repair and heal from the nutrients it has absorbed
– your body finally gets a rest
One thing people need to remember is you can work out hard for 30 – 60 mins each day, but you are still classed as sedentary if you sit at your desk for the rest of the day.
Gentle exercise can be done throughout the day by being mindful to move more often, but the intensity doesn’t have to be 80%+, this will cause burnout quicker and over time less movement will be done from injuries, soreness and fatigue.
We’re in a time where gentleness needs to exceed intensity if you are taking on more stressors from the current pandemic situation – from financial stress, isolation, remote learning, mental health etc.
This is a cycle we are going through, so maybe it’s time to cycle some more gentle exercises in your week, let go, allow and honor the body instead of abusing the body from a pandemic we had no control over.
Please try something new in your regime that helps you to honor your body.
If you would like a mobility session with me, then contact me to try one of these, you’ll feel amazing.