Sweat the Pain Away
By Nicole Basque, B.A., RMT
It is the start of a new year. For many of us, this means another attempt at making resolutions…and at keeping them. Weight loss and/or increased physical activity are often those ever elusive goals. They seem to be at the top of most resolutions lists. They also seem to be the most difficult promises to keep.
Here are a few bits of information meant to motivate you in transforming your lifestyle into a more healthy and active one.
YOUR BODY SEEKS BALANCE
Inactivity can actually do more harm than good to our bodies. Many of us have jobs that require sitting in front of a computer, usually for extensive amounts of time. This encourages the body to slouch and causes the muscles on the front of the body (i.e. the chest muscles, the hip flexors and the anterior neck muscles) to contract. As a result, the muscles on the posterior aspect of the body, (i.e. the upper and lower back, and the gluteal muscles), become weak. Because the muscles of the back are not strong enough to counter the pull of those on the front of the body, they become weak and tight, and cause pain. Exercise can greatly reduce this discomfort. By strengthening the muscles that are weak in our bodies we can bring back the balance between our muscle groups and reduce the pain we feel.
BREAK THE VICIOUS CYCLE!
Too many of us live a sedentary life. We get up from our bed, sit in the car (or on the TTC) on the way to work, sit at our desks, sit on the couch after work, and head back to bed (amidst making dinner, lunches, laundry, cleaning, etc). Not taking time out of our hectic lives for ourselves to exercise contributes to our physical pains. Physical activity stimulates endorphins (hormones released during any type of pleasurable activity), and endorphins make us feel good! Physical activity also stimulates blood flow within the body. By making your heart work hard to pump blood around your body, you encourage a systematic cleanse that will stimulate your internal organs, your muscles, even your skin. As taboo as it sounds, exercise will help you feel and look better, physically and emotionally. The more you move, the more results you will see, and the better you will feel overall. Your physical pain will decrease and your psychological well-being will increase.
MAKE IT A LIFESTYLE CHANGE, NOT A QUICK FIX
It can sometimes seem intimidating to meet the fitness goals we set for ourselves. This is the reason why it is important to start slow, and to be realistic. If the gym is not for you, start your day with a walk before work, walk to school with your kids, go for a swim at the YMCA, play catch, do yoga, ride your bicycle, make a point to always use the stairs….there are countless ways to include physical activity into your daily routine. If you enjoy the gym, you can meet with a personal trainer, or attend group classes to stay motivated. Get an exercise buddy or make it something you do with your spouse. But remember, good things take time. It is not about being intense with working out for two months then slacking off until next January! It is rather about including physical activity in your regular routine. Choose activities that will increase your heart rate and make you sweat. Start with 10 minutes of exercise a day and work towards sweating for 30 to 40 minutes, 3-4 times a week.
WRITE IT DOWN
It may be helpful to keep a journal of the type and length of activity you do as well. This will help you track your progress and figure out what kinds of activities you prefer so that you can maintain your GREAT new habit. Remember: pace yourself, grab a friend, and go do something you like! Take it one day at a time and make it a lifestyle change. You’ll feel better I’m sure of it. Get moving!!
Nicole Basque, B.A., RMT, is a full-time registered massage therapist at Pacific Wellness. She played as a goaltender for Mount Allison University from 2000-2004. She received her Personal Trainer Certification in 2009 through CanFit Pro while studying Massage Therapy at The Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy. Some of her favourite activities include running, spinning, pilates, weight training and walking. To arrange a therapeutic massage session with Nicole, call The Pacific Wellness Institute at 416-929.6958.