The value of exercise for highly sensitive people cannot be overstated. Simple workouts can offer HSPs big improvements in health. Fitness helps us look better but now is receiving the attention it deserves as a source for improving our health.
The importance of exercise comes from a deserved reputation as a stress reducer and restorer of health. It restores and refreshes both the body and mind. The primary reason that exercise and stress reduction are linked is that fitness workouts release endorphins which are the feel good neurotransmitters releasing stress. Highly sensitive people can certainly benefit from feeling good. Exercise also impacts oxygen intake in the body. People who are physically active increase their oxygen and energy and also expel more carbon dioxide. Deep breathing has many health benefits.
Exercise has another ancillary benefit in that it provides mental relief from our stress concerns. One of the best ways to stop focusing on a difficult problem is to focus on something else. Often the change in focus refreshes us, and allows the subconscious to work on the problem while our attention is elsewhere. This is when the eureka moments can happen. Finally, it never helps to have the feeling of strength that a well conditioned body provides. When your muscles are strong, you feel it, and it can give you confidence in facing your life challenges.
The Importance Of Exercise: Exercise Choices
There are a variety of approaches to exercise, some of them beneficial for HSPs and others not so much. Walking is a universally recognized form of exercise that is good for everyone. Yoga falls in the same category as well. Sports are so competitive that they may be unsuitable for HSPs although swimming and boating might work well. Instead of sports HSPs can select activities that put them in healing nature without competitive pressure. Working on environmental projects, hiking and gardening can be great exercise. For a variety of reasons, more and more people have been using gyms for exercise. Gyms offer some good training, however, increasingly trainers are developing new integrated forms of exercise that go beyond isolating muscles and pumping them.
Yoga encourages us to let go of unnecessary desires, thereby learning to quieten and concentrate the mind, increasing our ability to direct it in ways that will give us greater control over our senses and our minds, thoughts and feelings, desires and impulses. This control is not repressive and strict, but represents a more balanced and harmonious approach to life, one that can restore in us a sense of joy. Mark Forstater, Yoga Masters, Penguin Group, 2002, p. 24-25.
Integrative Exercise Approaches
Integrated exercise seeks to incorporate multiple exercise forms in one program to give a more complete workout. Some use a gym and others do not. The integrated programs recognize that traditional weight training programs leave some muscles highly developed and others poorly developed, particularly the supporting muscles and muscles that assist movement. Integrated programs are excellent for preventing the kind of muscle weakness that causes unnecessary falls, accidents or even the painful surgeries common to older people like hip replacement surgery.
Two excellent integrative exercise programs are the following:
- Core Workout: This program was developed by Mark Verstegen and Mia Hamm in 1999. It began as training for professional athletes and many, very famous athletes use the program. Its exercises are designed to support movement not just strength so it works all the muscles.The Core Workout has an online presence including tools, and a way to customize the plan for your fitness level and time. It is somewhat demanding, but a definite improvement over regular weight training. Anyone can do it; however, it is definitely a serious program for serious athletes. www.coreperformance.com
- NIA: Neuromuscular Integrative Action is what NIA stands for. It was created by two trainers Carlos and Debbie Rosas in the 1980’s because they could not understand why people could be working out and still becoming injured. Nia is fusion fitness, an integration of martial arts, healing, physical healing arts, dance and spiritual healing. In their book, they describe Nia as chocolate; it is designed to be a total pleasure. Nia’s moves are easy for anyone to master, making it highly accessible, and no special equipment is required. The moves focus on movement and target the whole body, all the joints and do a great job on the core. It results in a strong body in a remarkably short period of time. www.nianow.com
Choosing An Exercise Program
Any of the above approaches are good approaches to improving health. and strength. An HSP needs to chose a program for exercise and stress reduction that fits with their health condition and capabilities. A moderate amount of exercise and stress levels can dramatically improve. Interestingly too much exercise and stress levels will actually increase because of the increased wear and tear on the body. If your physical condition is weak or you are an exercise beginner, it may be good to start with a simple walking program and gradually progress to something more demanding. Doing exercise consistently that feels good will make it easier to sustain an exercise habit. The benefits of exercise for handling stress occur in any of these programs. How to achieve greater fitness with each type of exercise is a process that requires some thought and investigation.