unfit? wire your brain to love exercise
Aerobic exercise has a ‘unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress’, writers in a Harvard Medical School ‘Health Watch’ article explain. And yet many people fail to take advantage of this ‘wonder-drug’ this life-changing, free prescription.
Over the past three decades the health and fitness industry has boomed. Health clubs, sports clothing, trainers, health apps, exercise DVD’s, fit bits, energy drinks and even muscle building supplement manufactures have all jumped on the ‘exercise’ bandwagon. But it’s not enough. It’s still not happening.
Recent government initiatives have been set up to find ways to encourage the aging population (55 years +) to exercise and schools have been setting up ‘Get Active’ campaigns with well-known supermarket chains … so why isn’t the country more active?
In correlation with increases in population and life expectancy, NHS costs have rocketed and the government seems to be struggling to support our medical services. Perhaps it would be beneficial if participation in regular exercise become a pre-requisite to receiving medical care?
Or could our reluctance to exercise just be down to our thinking? With lifestyle changes we’ve conditioned ourselves to not exercise; and to find excuses not to get moving? We know being active is good for us, but are we subconsciously telling ourselves a different story?
Does this sound familiar? It’s ok to not exercise, I work hard and don’t have time. It’s ok to feel crap, tired, lethargic, achy so I give myself permission to nurse myself, to curl up under the duvet and do nothing? Do I, at a deep level fear feeling fit and healthy because I’ve grown to believe I’ll receive attention or be more loved, if I’m sick?
If the difference between exercising and not exercising is primarily down to your thought patterns, the question arises, can you switch to healthier thinking? Can you wire your brain to love exercise? Does this start with loving yourself?
At In Mind In Body we believe the answer to these questions, is an overwhelming YES. Due to the brains plasticity, its structure is changed moment by moment, by your thoughts, this includes altering gene expression. You have the ability to choose where you want to focus your attention and this in turn affects the chemicals, proteins, structure and function of the brain and how your body interacts.
Neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change in response to our thinking) can be used to our advantage. We know that with mental rehearsal of imagined exercise, the brain responds as if exercising for real and activates the body accordingly, lighting neural pathways, activating muscle fibres, releasing endorphins, and even raising heart and respiratory rates. Further studies into exercise imagery have demonstrate improvements in motor function, increased muscle strength as well as preventing or slowing down the effects of muscle atrophy, all through imagined movement.
At In Mind In Body we’ve pioneered ‘active imagery’ a series of unique audio strength training exercises for the whole body. As you listen and imagine yourself exercising, you train your brain and body to exercise. With careful guidance, encouragement and motivation throughout the exercises, you soon find yourself naturally relaxing and contracting your muscles, strengthening the neural pathways between the brain and muscle, hardwiring in the information to help you regain and maintain an active lifestyle. And soon you feel that inner desire to be active.
Active imagery is a very simple way you can begin to shift your thinking, to love and nurture yourself, love exercise and love being healthy. The imagery connects you with how easy and natural it is for exercise to feel more like the enjoyment of a good meal, taking a loved car for a spin, rather than punishment for some future gain or ‘correction’ of some bad habit.
It’s time to wake up to the phenomenal power of your mindbody and listen to the story you’re telling yourself. “I can exercise. I love feeling fit and healthy, I feel so much better physically and emotionally when I exercise.”