It’s World Heart Health Day so tune into the healing powers of movement and some form of relaxation as a powerful antidote to stress.
Stress, anxiety, anger and a lack of exercise - over a long period - can make you sick and harm your heart.
Restorative practices include things like yoga, Qigong, tai chi, meditation and mindfulness. While movement options are endless. Go for a walk in nature, swim, dance, run, roller-skate, lift weights, try cross-fit, go to a new gym class, or stay at home and google some body-weight workout ideas. I recommend exercising in the morning to kick-start your metabolism.
With exercise, try and aim to be active every day – even if it is 30-minutes of movement like brisk walking. The benefits of exercise strengthens your heart, lowers your risk of high blood pressure, strokes and developing diabetes. Movement helps with your immunity, reduces tension and stress and in turn helps with managing your weight and helps your body and mind to reset.
If you are busy, incorporate exercise into your everyday activities. For example, walking youngsters to school, to playgroups or to the park, or lifting shopping bags, be active in the garden, do home maintenance or take your dog for a walk. It all counts!
For my family, I am mindful to walk the kids to school every morning (unless it is terrible weather)! Even my six-year-old gets in a 1km walk doing this. It’s good for him to get used to exercise from a young age as a normal part of his routine. I want to inspire him to adopt healthy habits. Of course, he grumbles sometimes “Mum this is not fair!” But in no time, he is skipping along trying to race me to school.
If you are unsure of where to start with fitness then visit your GP and they can give you a great guide. A big thing is not to do too much too soon, as it can be overwhelming.
Remember to be kind to your body. For example, start walking with 2000 steps daily. Then increase this, over time, to 4000 steps so after several weeks you might find it okay to do 8000 or 10,000 steps.
The key is to do something you enjoy to nurture your heart health. If you enjoy doing it, you’ll do it more.
I inspire my yoga students that emotional self-case is as crucial to their wellbeing. I always lead a meditation or give mindfulness lessons at the end of every class
A favourite way to destress is to lie on my back, be still, pause and belly breath. This can calm your nervous system in moments, and something you can do at home at the end of the day.
One of my favourite yoga poses to calm is to elevate my legs up a wall (viparita karani). This reduces fatigue, helps to quiet the mind and lowers blood pressure. Do this at home; I promise you will feel calmer and your heart will thank you.
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