Why More Is Not Better
Oooo! Someone just brought this great article to my attention - Thanks KL! The Massive Fitness Trend That's Not Actually Healthy at All. It is written by an elite athlete/trainer who is advocating for what I've been advocating for years, although coming from a fitness expert I hope it is even more persuasive! To read the specific traditional Chinese medicine and holistic reasons for this read on. But, basically, it's the idea that we are actually doing harm when we think more is better when it comes to exercise - or anything really!
Here are a couple great quotes from the article:
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" There is a massive trend in the fitness industry to glorify exercise as an all-out war on the body. I call it the militarization of fitness—all the boot camps, Marine-inspired workouts, ridiculously intense body building routines, and general glorification of pain. "
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" Our cultural pathology can be summed up pretty easily: too much yang, not enough yin; too much doing, not enough being; too much work, not enough play; too masculine, not enough feminine."
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" Are you willing to destroy your body to look super hot at age 30? Or are you willing to take a deeper look, explore the “less is more” philosophy, let go of your “no pain no gain” programming, and let your health, strength, and goals evolve in a natural way so that you're having new adventures and movement experiences well into your 90s? "
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The whole article is great and it also contains links with common mistakes, and how to listen to your body when exercising, which has some handy little graphics like this:
From my TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) perspective, exercise is primarily useful for getting people "unstuck." To read about what it means to be stuck and the things that feed into it, check out one of my all time favorite personal posts below.
So, exercise gets you unstuck, as does drinking alcohol and caffeine, having an orgasm, smoking a cigaret, having a good cry, breathing deeply, laughing and more. This is why people tend to feel better doing these things, and this is why these things are all potentially addictive especially to those folks who have a lot of stuck tendencies. These things feel nice right away, and some are healthier than others! But, the problem is if you rely on increasingly aggressive exercise and don't listen to your body, it is too much of a good thing which becomes damaging, and is always unsustainable and harmful in the long run.
What happens is you eventually trade being stuck for being run down and depleted. So you no longer feel as stressed, angry, PMS-ish, and constrained, but instead you feel run down, get sick, and hurt yourself. Not ideal. It's just trading one imbalance for another. And, getting run down is what contributes to quality of life decline as you age. So while you can do this sort of exercise without feeling the implications in your 20's and 30's, you will have issues eventually.
" They are told exercising vigorously is the way to feel better, but this could not be more untrue. "
Of course, for those folks who are already run down, exhausted and depleted, the cultural focus on exercising aggressively is even more dangerous. They already start out tired and worn out, and they are told exercising vigorously is the way to feel better, but this could not be more untrue. While some exercise is a good thing, and even pushing yourself some of the time is a good thing, doing it all the time and ignoring your body is never a good idea. So, what is right for a very stuck and robust person, is wrong for someone who is very depleted and tired and visa versa. And for everyone, moderation and listening to your body over some general rule or cultural norm is key to truly being healthy!
I hope this helps you find the level of exercise that really helps you feel better both now and for years to come.