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How Fear Can Sabotage Your Fitness Goals: Programming for Success

Fear can do many things to us and they are almost never positive in their outcome. Being dominated by our fears is no way to live – especially when it comes to our efforts to become healthy and fit. I have sabotaged many goals and choices over the years because of my fears. Most of the time I have never been clear on just what “it” was I was afraid of but somehow fear took hold of me and I did not step boldly into a successful outcome.

I believe we are inherently capable of being great and doing great things but we can – and do – sabotage our greater “yet to be” by letting our fears control our behavior – and our choices. This is no way to live! In this article I would like to highlight of the 4 keys to overcoming our fears and become bold and tied to our successes – not our failures!

The 4 Keys To Successfully Overcoming Our Fears

VISUALIZATION

I find that when we have a clear picture in mind when setting our goals we can more easily identify with a successful outcome because we can “out-picture” not only a positive process – but a successful conclusion as well. Fear is often described as “false evidence appearing real” and it is this “reality” that our minds and hearts can be “tricked” into giving up before we can experience a result that we desire. I have felt the power of visualization when it came to many aspects of my life – especially when it concerned my running – and weightlifting – program.

Prior to beginning my training sessions I spend time in my mind “picturing” myself doing what it is I want to accomplish during that session. If I want to run a specific time I put myself in this “mental place” by running at a particular pace at a specific speed. I attach my feelings of joy to this picture and visualize me smiling and happy enjoying the process of running free and without fear. It is in my mind that I create success and I do this before I take any action in the “real world”. How long you choose to visualize your own session is up to you.

It is a discipline well worth creating and employing every time you start to address your health and fitness needs. The feeling in conjunction with the “picture” is crucial for a successful outcome. Remember to give yourself a break and start slowly. I tend to spend 10-15 minutes in support of my visual “cues” so that the session  goes as smoothly as I envisioned it. Walt Disney is one of my idols when it comes to visualization (and imagination of course) because he did not see orange groves in Anaheim – he saw Disneyland! Look how that turned out!

IMAGINATION

It is said that the true measure of intelligence is not intellect but imagination. Steve Jobs imagined a world connected by phone and in his mind he set in motion the development of the “smart phone” and he changed the world as we know it. He passed away from cancer but before he died he had the opportunity to see his vision come to life. Walt Disney died in 1966 before many of his most creative ideas were born but he did live long enough to know that his vision of a family oriented adventure and experience would eventually be fully realized. The company that bears his name is still creating in the manner he began some 80 years ago!

I believe in the power of the imagination to aid us in all manner of accomplishment in life. I imagine myself speaking and teaching all over the world as an advocate of the principles of healthy aging and living a life of purpose – on purpose – every day. I know at 70 my time is not unlimited but I do have faith in the principle “that the mind of man is unlimited in its potential – and DOES respond to specific demands made upon it”. This principle works every time we use IF we also BELIEVE not only in ourselves – but our potential to accomplish great things as well.

What is it that you want to accomplish and can this be the key to your success in developing and maintaining an active and complete fitness program? I believe the main reason we need to engage in an active and ongoing fitness program is because we are each here to accomplish something unique that only we can accomplish. I see me speaking and excited about my message because I am filled with the energy of excellent health and also because I am strong mentally and physically as a result of my successful training program. You too can do this! Just believe and do it!

AFFIRMATION

What we say – and think – we become. Never allow yourself to use “defeatist” language that signifies you are NOT capable of achieving whatever it is you have set out to do. Words have power – choose yours wisely. NEVER say what you DON’T want in your life – always affirm what you DO want in your life! If you want to increase your strength affirm: “I am strong and powerful – and grateful for every muscle in my body”. Here is another affirmation:”I am dynamic, energized, open and receptive right here and now and act in support of this instruction”.

Always place your affirmation in the present tense and never allow for anything but a positive outcome. Give yourself credit for being who you ARE and always look forward to becoming your BEST version of yourself. I say everyday: “I powerful, successful and excited to be who I am today and I KNOW I am becoming more of what I want to be with each thought I think and every action I take.

Affirmations give us the opportunity to “re-program” our subconscious minds by replacing outworn beliefs about ourselves with new and powerful thoughts and ideas that help us create the new person we want to become – mentally, physically, and spiritually. NEVER allow your words to create what you DON”T want in your life – always use them to help you become who you want to BE!

ACTIONS – BEHAVIOR

“Actions speak louder than words”. If you want someone to know you value them – even love them – it through your actions and NOT your words that the truth will eventually come out. When it comes to fitness and developing your program – actions are everything! You can’t burn calories or create muscle without taking action – you MUST move first! Everyday I KNOW I will be training because my mind and body EXPECT to do this for my health and well being. I am always aware of the idea that tomorrow is NEVER guaranteed and that TODAY is all I have so I never want to waste even one day of training.

Being FIT is a habit with me that I cultivated over decades of my life. I act in support of my fitness goals every day because I never wanted to grow old – just older. It is not the number of years we are alive that matters – it is the life in our years that counts the most. I work on speed, power, strength, balance, endurance, flexibility and strength because I want my body to be able to hold up for whatever years I have left in my life. I also want to be able to accomplish my mission by contributing my message and voice to life before it ends. I need a fit body to serve as an example of what is possible through hard work and dedication to my purpose.

Conclusion

Take time to reflect on your journey to date and ask yourself one simple question: “Have I come close to reaching my potential or am I letting fear sabotage my ability to create a life of meaning and purpose?” Take time to answer this question and address the needs you need to fulfill physically, mentally and spiritually in order to set in motion your journey to success – and fulfillment. Life is always lived from the “inner to the outer” – not the other way around. We can never access our “greater good” by FOLLOWING others. We CAN serve as examples of what is possible but each of us must find our own path to pursue and this path is not mine – it is YOURS.

Love your uniqueness and praise your gifts and never allow yourself to stay in negative thinking. “Get over yourself” and remember we are here to accomplish something great for others. We are here to SERVE and we cannot do our part if we are weak and scared. I can say I am 70 but I am 30 in my mind – and in body and spirit as well – because I have trained without failure. I started running in 1964 at Syracuse University as a freshman and am in my 53rd year – and counting, Over that time I have accumulated over 60,000 miles and am going to run as long as I can maintain my current level of fitness. When it comes to being fit I will ALWAYS want to serve as an example of what is possible because it is all that matters to me! It should also matter to you too!

Originally printed on HealthyNewAge.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

Woman Sitting On Pilates Ball Using Computer

Do You Slouch? Improve Your Health with Better Posture

When babies learn to sit, they elongate their spine, which is naturally efficient and comfortable. Moreover, it provides the most skeletal support without requiring a lot of muscle strength. Despite this, around 4-years old, most of us began to slump. Why? Well, significantly, it’s probably because we started school and began spending more time sitting.

Poor posture often results from weak core muscles, and weak core muscles contribute to slouching. Also, most neck pain not caused by trauma is usually the result of poor posture and weak muscles supporting our head. For example, sitting at our computers, or hunching over our phone for several hours can strain our neck, and shoulders.

More importantly, strong core muscles lessen wear and tear on the spine. And that prevents falls and injuries. Strengthening your abdominal muscles improves your posture and enhances balance and stability.

You might not notice these actions: putting on shoes, picking up a package, or turning to look behind you, until they become difficult or painful. Core-centric activities include acts that spring from, or pass through, the core: lifting, twisting, carrying, hammering, reaching overhead — even vacuuming, mopping, and dusting.

What is Good Posture?

Good posture doesn’t mean standing like a stiff piece of board. Many people overcompensate for bad posture by standing up too straight. When our posture is correct, our ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles align naturally. Good posture looks natural and relaxed.

Don’t Slouch! There is Power in Good Posture

Maintaining good posture is not easy. And despite the importance of good posture, most of us don’t do anything to improve it. As a result, we go about our lives uncomfortably hunching our backs and slouching. Practicing good posture strengthens our abdominal muscles and builds low back stability. If these muscles are weak, we’re more apt to slouch. For example, we may start the day sitting upright, but soon we’re lost in our work and slouching once again.

Good posture has many benefits. It aligns your body, and makes you look taller (you can lose 2 inches by slouching). Good posture even speeds up your metabolism (burn up to 350 calories a day). At the same time, having good posture reduces pain by using your muscles to support your skeleton) and improves your mood. (Don’tSlouch)

How to Improve Your Posture

Proper posture includes alignment, balance, and alignment. You’ll see immediate improvements in your posture by practicing the following two exercises. All you need is a wall. These two, quick and easy exercises realign and strengthen your muscles and ease pain and achiness that results from poor posture.

Exercise 1: The Chin Tuck is an exercise to strengthen your neck muscles. Start standing with your back to a wall. Extend your neck, keeping your gaze forward, and lean back so the back of your head touches the wall. You can also place a pillow behind your head if you can’t move all the way back. Keep your gaze forward, so that your chin is parallel with the floor. Retract your chin towards the wall until you you’re your neck muscles contract, then release the contraction. Repeat this movement 10 times.

Exercise 2: Wall Angels stretch your chest muscles, improve shoulder range of motion, and strengthen your upper back. Start standing with your back and head against a wall and your feet about 6 inches from the wall. With your arms at your side, face your palms forward. Slide your arms out to the side along the wall, bending your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Continue sliding your arms up along the wall to about 45 degrees above your shoulder. Stop when you feel your shoulders elevate or if you feel pain. Return your arms back down to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.


Jacqueline Gikow, is the owner of Audacious Living NYC™.  Her holistic, health and wellness practice centers on pain relief through better movement. She is certified through the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBCHWC), the Functional Aging Institute (FAI), Medfit (MFN), and the Arthritis Foundation (AFAP/AFEP). Her fitness practice includes in-home and remote, one-on-one fitness training and coaching in New York City. Jacqueline Gikow can be reached at: https://audaciouslivingnyc.com, or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/audaciouslivingnyc

References

https://www.madisondias.com/posture/dont-slouch-the-power-of-good-posture/

http://lifehacker.com/fix-your-posture-with-these-three-simple-exercises-1754621367

Woman-Stretching-at-Gym1

Exercise: How it Affects the Brain

Many studies have shown exercise to help depression and anxiety, improve sleep, reduce stress, and even improve the symptoms of ADHD. It’s important that you pay attention to any changes that you notice in these areas, in addition to changes you are seeking that bring you closer to their goals. Oftentimes, clients are thrilled to report that they feel calmer, happier, sleep better, and experience less brain-fog!

Can exercise be helpful in the healing of extreme cases of mental illnesses?

Therapists are now recognizing the benefits of exercise in their therapy sessions focused on depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders, among others. With medications that target these mental illnesses, there are often long lists of side effects, some of which can worsen the illness it is trying to treat, or even cause another mental illness in its place. Not only is exercise being acknowledged for the impact that it can have on such illnesses without the risk of side effects, but it is also being acknowledged that exercise can be successful in preventing the return of symptoms.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is among other mental illnesses that exercise is beneficial for. Studies have shown PTSD to have negative effects on the brain and nervous system of the body.

Exercise allows someone suffering from PTSD to approach their hyperarousal symptoms in a safe and controlled environment, allowing the body to change its perception of these symptoms as healthy, instead of as signs of danger. This allows your nervous system to also find balance and release traumatic memory, in simpler terms.

How to Get Started When Starting Seems Hard

Is getting started easy? Not always, unfortunately. Depression could cause a lack of motivation to get started. Those who suffer from PTSD or anxiety may find the different sensations of working out to be very uncomfortable in the beginning, as they can be similar to their symptoms. One who is chronically stressed may become overwhelmed at the thought of adding something else into their routine.

It does get better because you get stronger! Just keep these things in mind as you begin your fitness journey:

  • Keep at it! Give yourself time to get adjusted to your workout routine and be patient if you don’t see changes as quickly as you’d like. The wait is worth the results! Listen to your body.
  • Start out slowly and gradually add to your fitness routine, as you feel more comfortable. Spending hours a day exercising isn’t NECESSARY!
  • Start out with 30 minutes a day for 3 days per week, and work your way up to 30 minutes a day for 5 days per week. Even a walk with a friend or fun aerobics class counts!
  • Talk to someone who supports you in your journey. They will understand your efforts and encourage you but also validate the struggle to do so.

Diana Smithson is Owner of Stronger Today Fitness, a Small Group/Personal Training Studio in Surprise, AZ. Her passion for Fitness and Health creates excitement and encouragement to all she trains with. She enjoys being in the mountains, hanging with her family and sleeping.

Disclaimer: This article was modified from its original version found on https://blog.findyourtrainer.com/2019/06/06/how-exercise-can-benefit-your-mental-health/

STRESS pencil

Helping Older Adults Flex their Stress Resilience Muscles 

We can all agree that stress levels have skyrocketed to an all-time high following the “year of fear.” Older adults with chronic conditions have been the hardest hit since they are most vulnerable to Sars-CoV-2 and severe outcomes. Millions have been struggling with the fear of infection and mortality; inactivity and muscle weakness as well as social distancing and isolation. Helping older adults build stress resilience strategies into daily life is critical to bolster and protect physical, mental and social wellbeing.

Living under chronic stress leads to bad decisions. That’s because the part of the brain called the amygdala is activated when under threat. It is our survival brain with the “fight or flight” response being its signature. This means that blood is flowing to the “reactive” brain and away from the “thinking and planning” part of our brain, the pre-frontal cortex.   

This can contribute to poor eating, activity and lifestyle choices. Convenience and processed foods can easily take center stage along with sedentary behaviors and heavier use of drugs and alcohol. This can lead to malnutrition, decreased blood flow and the increased risk and severity of chronic conditions as well as impairing immune function. It is a recipe for dis-ease and higher health risks, particularly in pandemic times.

Chronic stress puts the body into a catabolic state of “breaking down” while also turning down the volume on the body’s anabolic pathways of “building up” (1). The body was designed to live in the parasympathetic state, also known as “rest, digest, heal and repair” mode.  Constantly living in the stress response leads to high levels of cortisol, oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory cytokines (immune messengers). This chemical marinade literally shrinks muscle and brain cells (2).  

Chronic Stress Stinks & Shrinks

What happens when muscle and brain cells atrophy? Sarcopenia and cognitive decline arrive on the scene. This in turn leads to the downward spiral of physical and mental pathology that can include disability, dependency, dementia, an increased risk of falls, fractures and hospitalizations.   

Resilience is a Process

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress,” or “bouncing back” from difficult experiences (3). It is an adaptive process that can be developed. Being “hardy” or resilient is linked with positive outcomes, including improved functional mobility, health and longevity.  

Medical fitness specialists can help older adults build stress resilience by empowering them with education and encouragement. This can be a powerful intervention as it combines education with behavior modification. It includes asking questions while providing clear messaging that reduce fears and clarify health benefits followed by simple actionable steps. The pro-active older adult can choose to practice the strategies that resonate with them.  Being accountable to and encouraged by a trainer knowledgeable about geriatrics can support the process of building resilience to weather “stress storms.” 

Building Stress Resilience

Like health, resilience is multi-dimensional and includes physical, mental and social components. As fitness professionals, we understand that exercise activity is the most powerful intervention to relieve stress because movement positively impacts the health of every cell in the body and brain. After all, who doesn’t feel better after an appropriate workout or walk in the sunshine?!

5 Simple Strategies

Being mindful of breathing, eating and moving are great ways to build stress resilience.  Living in the present moment helps develop awareness, connection and calm. Avoid overwhelm by choosing to practice one small step at a time.

1. Breathe Deeply. Breath connects body and mind. Stress breathing is shallow breathing. By focusing on the depth and pace of breath, the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged. Encourage older adults to become aware of tension and overwhelm; to take “Breathing Breaks” while focusing on breathing in and out through the nose. It can be as simple as starting with 3 deep breaths and working up to 30.  

2. Eat Slowly. In order to digest food and absorb nutrients properly, eat seated in a relaxed, calm environment.  Encourage older adults to slow down and focus on chewing food 20-30 times. This supports the mechanical breakdown of food for better digestion. While eating, focus on the food’s aroma, flavor, texture, mouth feel and swallowing. 

3. Tea Time. Take a few minutes to savor a warm cup of herbal tea like lemon balm, lavender or chamomile.  Enjoy the aroma and feeling of warmth in hand and the body. This practice is a wonderful way to wind down at the end of the day or as needed.

4. Gratitude Attitude. Before rising and/or going to bed, think about, say out loud or write down 3 things you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude is linked with boosting happiness, optimism and a sense of greater well-being (3).

5. Move more. Inactivity and sedentary time slows down blood flow, metabolism and immune function. Encourage older adults to break up sedentary time with 5 minutes of movement every hour. Light intensity activity like house cleaning has been shown to reduce the risk of mobility disability by 40%! Simply moving more throughout the day is powerful medicine, especially when paired with a tailored exercise program. 

Today, building stress resilience is absolutely critical for older adult’s functional and cognitive health.  They will be so grateful for your guidance!


Cate Reade, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist and Functional Medicine Practitioner candidate on a mission to improve functional mobility and health span utilizing the power of lifestyle medicine. She has been teaching, writing and prescribing healthy eating and exercise programs for over 25 years. Today, as CEO of Resistance Dynamics and inventor of the MoveMor™ Mobility Trainer, she develops exercise products and programs that target joint flexibility, strength and balance deficits to help older adults fall less and live more.


References 

  1. Kirwan R et al (2020). Sarcopenia during COVID-19 lockdown restrictions: long-term health effects of short-term muscle loss. Geroscience. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7528158/
  2. Mohammed A & Kunugi H (2021). Screening for Sarcopenia (Physical Frailty) in the COVID-19 Era. Int J Endocrinol. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8152925/
  3. MacLeod, S et al (2016). The impact of resilience among older adults. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197457216000689
golden hour silouette

Can Gratitude Help You Live Longer?

The numbers are in and the facts are clear: gratitude helps you live longer. That’s because the more grateful you are for what you have, the happier you are.  And the happier you are, the healthier you’ll be. Gratitude doesn’t just improve your physical, psychological and emotional health — it also makes you into a nicer person. Here’s how it happens.

People who display gratitude have:

  • 16% fewer physical symptoms
  • 10% less physical pain
  • 25% increased sleep quality

Cancer survivors like Barbara Tako believe that “actively choosing to regularly practice gratitude is a powerful tool to manage the worries and fears of being a patient or a survivor.” This may be because the regions of the brain that are involved in happiness are also involved in blood-vessel function and inflammation. Studies have shown that levels of the stress hormone cortisol tend to rise and fall with emotion. People who practice gratitude experience less stress, because they don’t tend to dwell on negatives and feel more empowered to overcome hurdles.

Gratitude Improves Psychological Health

Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. According to Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, a leading gratitude researcher, gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression.

Gratitude Improves Self-Esteem

A grateful person is more likely to accept that someone else is being nice to him.  He’s able to take the kindness that someone else shows him at face value, because he believes that he’s a person worth of receiving kindness. On the other hand, someone with low self-esteem leans towards seeing an act of kindness with a skeptical eye. He’s more likely to think that his benefactor had ulterior motives and is simply trying to get something from them.

Gratitude Increases Mental Resilience

Research shows that gratitude not only reduces stress, but also plays a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. When you can recognize, even in the worst of times, that you have things you can thankful for, you’re more likely to have the resilience to bounce back.

Gratitude Makes you More Likely to Exercise

If you have less pain and are feeling rested, you’re more likely to exercise. Grateful people exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups. Both these facts contribute to longevity.

Gratitude Makes you into a Nicer Person

Saying thank you and showing appreciation for favors makes you into a nicer person. But the benefits don’t end with the nice words. Showing appreciation actually helps you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. Sending a thank-you note to the therapist who called you to check how you where doing after a challenging OT session can lead to a new friendship. By becoming more trusting, social, and appreciative, you can deepen your existing relationships and make new friends.

So how do we go about cultivating this captivating trait of gratitude?

The Easy Key to Cultivating Gratitude

More and more people have started keeping a five-minute daily gratitude journal. By spending just five minutes jotting down a few grateful thoughts before falling asleep, you learn to flex your gratitude muscles. And there are additional benefits. People who keep a gratitude journal sleep better and longer.  And there’s more. In one 11-week study of 96 Americans, those who were instructed to keep a weekly gratitude journal exercised 40 minutes more per week than the control group.

Gratitude reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier, lets us experience good feelings, and helps us bounce back from stressful situations. So throw out the negativity and bring in the gratitude. Because it looks like gratitude can help you live longer.


Rhona Lewis is a healthcare freelance writer with over 11 years of writing experience that she uses to help healthcare companies grow their authority and create brand awareness. Her background as a journalist means she’s curious enough to ask the right questions and committed to thorough research. She has a knack for breaking down complex medical concepts into content that a lay audience will read till the end.

References:

https://www.everydayhealth.com

http://www.happinessandwellbeing.org

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/tips_for_keeping_a_gratitude_journal
couple-balancing

Step up to Better Balance

When we are young we take our balance and coordination for granted. Yet as we progress through the years sometimes our muscles get weaker and joints get tighter and our posture changes all contributing to decreases in balance skills.

active adults walking

Can movement be therapy for emotional stress?

The more rhythmic and intense the movement, the greater this effect, since it elicits focus.

Emotional stress makes life overwhelming. Sometimes, we experience an extremely stressful or disturbing event, while at other times we accumulate the stress of upsetting interactions over time. In either case we are left feeling emotionally out of control and helpless. Our minds feel like a hamster spinning away on a wheel, leaving us drained, heavy, disconnected and incapable of making rational inferences and decisions. Our bodies feel like logs being lugged around, making daily chores onerous.

Irrespective of how it’s triggered, emotional and/or psychological disharmony has wide-ranging physical reactions and symptoms. While most of us know of the emotional impact (feelings of sadness, anger, fear, guilt, self-doubt and many more) the physical impact is not widely spoken about. This could include muscular tension, aches and pains, difficulty sleeping or insomnia, breathlessness among others.

Everyone’s triggers and responses are unique. Healing from emotional stress, hence, cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution. If symptoms persist for long or are severe, do seek professional help. That said, there are a few practices that can aid in self-healing.

Movement

Movement can be therapeutic for a number of reasons. As we know, stress impacts mental and physical equilibrium, turning the body into a repository of unpleasant side effects. A prolonged state of negative emotions like anger, fear and hyper responsiveness in daily life, adversely impacts the muscular and nervous system. Movement and exercise can help address this at a dual level. At a physical level, it helps by releasing endorphins (aka happy hormones) and calming adrenaline. The more rhythmic and intense the movement, the greater this effect, since it elicits focus. Target at least 30 minutes of exercise/movement on most days. It could be any activity that interests and engages you, be it dancing, yoga, sport, running, swimming, cycling. It might feel better to do it in company, to help break any self-imposed isolation. You could split it up over intervals during the day (though half an hour is not much of an ask to reset yourself and get your mind, body and life on track!).

Mindfulness

Try to pay full attention to the activity and how you perform it. Stay with the process. The mind will eventually tune into the rhythm of the body, making you more ‘mindful’ of the activity and yield a positive sensory outcome, including from deep within. For some, this may be attained with gentler workouts, and for some more intense activities could derive the response, depending on one’s personality as well as physical capacity. Remember, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way here. The beauty of movement is that it serves all, and it can be scaled up and down dynamically to make you feel most connected and generate positive inner vibes.

Deep breathing

Focus on the act of breathing and on how the breath goes in and out of the body (‘mindful’ breathing). It acts as another powerful therapeutic tool. This is true even during movement. Movement becomes more mindful when you focus on the breath while executing it, maximizing positive benefits physically (more oxygen, less physical stress) and mentally (greater connection with self, less mental stress). It aids in giving the mind a much-needed break while energizing the body.

Good sleep

Try maintaining sleeping and waking up time and hours even though it may seem silly or impossible. For those with sleeping difficulties or insomnia, the body clock needs resetting, requiring some repetitive reinforcements to break the negative cycle. It’s essential to retrain the body and mind to rejuvenate, rest and recuperate.

Changes won’t happen overnight, but all these practices together can go a long way to impart a greater sense of control, which propels us towards a happier state. It’s about reclaiming peace, being kind to ourselves and catalyzing inner healing.


Vani Pahwa is a Functional Fitness specialist with over fifteen years of experience, and cutting-edge certifications from leading internationally-accredited and globally recognized fitness institutes. She is also a Cancer Exercise Specialist (perhaps one of the first in the country). Sought after for her multi-disciplinary fitness modules and expertise, Vani has conducted fitness workshops for leading corporate houses, conditioning and training camps for various sports communities, training programs for coaches, personal training programs for CEOs of multi-nationals, athletes, junior and senior sports professionals among others. Her combination of specialties, client profile and range, and extensive work experience makes her unique in the country. She is the founder of Body in Motion.

Original article published in a leading national daily:  https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/movement-as-a-therapy-for-emotional-stress/article26566357.ece