For health, fitness and longevity, all ancient Greek physicians and philosophers recommended, in addition to temperance in food and sex, use of fresh pure air, bathing, friction of the body, and proper exercise. For the latter, Greeks developed a system including both intense and gentle activities that they called gymnastics, a word derived from gymnazein which means simply “to exercise or train.” This word did not originally refer to what we now know as competitive gymnastics, but to any type of physical fitness training, which is why we still today call physical training halls gymnasiums or gyms for short. By the way, the word “calisthenics” appears to have been first coined in 1839 from the Greek kallos “beauty” and sthenos “strength,” and originally referred to gymnastic exercises suitable for girls and meant to develop the figure and promote graceful movement.
To self-realize our full potential for health, fitness and life span, we need both high- and low- intensity physical activities. For complete development of your physical potential you need a program that develops strength, cardiorespiratory endurance, and flexibility/mobility.
That may sound daunting, but fortunately these fitness qualities are all related and you can develop all of them simultaneously with a limited time investment, if you know some simple facts of exercise science.
The high-intensity fitness activities that promote health and longevity include progressive-resistance strength training and sprint interval training.
Progressive resistance training (calisthenics, weight training) should be the foundation of every fitness program, because muscular strength is the foundation for all physical activity. If you only have time for one method of physical training, you should devote it to strength training, because proper resistance training produces better overall results than either endurance or flexibility training.
In fact, properly performed resistance training develops strength, cardiorespiratory capacity, and flexibility all at once, whereas endurance training alone ("cardio") does not improve strength or flexibility (actually tends to reduce them), and flexibility training alone does not develop endurance or strength.
As Don explained in Essential Macrobiotics, strength training is the only fitness method proved to retard and reverse aging of muscles at the genetic expression level. Muscular strength is associated with lower risk of chronic diseases and disability, and reduces the risk of death from all causes in both men and women.
Additionally, proper resistance training will help us build and maintain lean muscle mass, improving our metabolism, and ability to lose excess fat and maintain our ideal weight.
Contrary to common belief, you do not need to spend large amounts of time on a strength training routine in order to develop your full potential. Most people need spend no more than 2 hours weekly on this highly important task. We'll show you how to do it without spending any money on a gym membership as well.
Sprint interval training is the most time-efficient way to produce cardiorespiratory fitness.
Low-intensity fitness training methods include:
We have many muscles in our human body, of which most rarely get used. Our occupation and lifestyle habits cause us to over use certain muscles and under use others.
It is important to put those muscles to work to maintain the vehicles we've been blessed with for a healthy and productive life. There is a science to understanding how to move our bodies. Having proper skeletal alignment is key to maximizing our efforts, and improving our posture, moods, and disposition. Mobility and flexibility training help us to maintain proper alignment and prevent and rehabilitate injuries.
We have been working hard personally to un-wind from years of being very active, yet not having an awareness of proper alignment. Injuries, occupational over-use, and other issues have gelled into a misaligned carriage that impacts our well-being. Pain is the price of misalignment.
Having proper alignment can help you:
Get aligned, and come to your senses! Being aligned is a multi-level experience!
When your body is aligned physically, and your minds is aligned with your heart, you will better be able to trust your true nature. When you get better at acting on your gut feelings, you will be led ~ step by step ~ to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.
Rest, play, getting adequate sun exposure, and connecting with the Earth are all equally as important to the health and functioning of your body as regular exercise.
Getting outdoors during the early morning, prior to Ultra Violet B (UVB) rays being emitted provides many hormone balancing benefits, while adequate skin exposure to the UVB rays of anywhere from 15-30 minutes, ~ depending on your skin color, region, and the season ~ helps your body produce Vitamin D, important for bone health and immunity. Without adequate sun exposure on bare skin, a supplement may be required as foods do not provide Vitamin D unless they are 'enriched.'
Being barefoot on grass, sand or soil, ~ especially when it is damp like the sand near the ocean, or the morning dew on the grass ~ also provides a host of health benefits by 'grounding' you to the Earth.
Look for our upcoming article about our experiences with Earthing ~ getting our bare feet on the cool, moist grass every morning, and using some of the Earthing products for ourselves, and with clients at our local clinic.
Because of how profoundly I believe in the importance of grounding, I've signed up to be an affiliate for Earthing.com. Learn more by clicking on the link above, or the banner below or in the side bar. Articles about getting grounded and connected with the Earth can be found under the Earth Girl Rx tab in the Navigation menu.
Engaging in any type of strenuous training and mobility routine will push you past preconceived limits and comfort zones. That is how you grow, and get stronger. Sometimes, it can elicit an emotional release. Old pent up stagnant energy or fear from old wounds that was never fully discharged gets stirred up. That's when it really gets interesting!
Just let yourself emote, and shake it out. You'll free up energy, and feel better afterwards.
I share more about this in the short video below, part 2 of a 2-part series.
We have both had to overcome ongoing injuries and set backs. It can be very discouraging at times, but we keep plugging forward, motivated by our determination to experience physical freedom, remain flexible and strong as we age, and feel our absolute best. Our desire is to inspire, support, and coach others to feel and be their best as well. The better you feel, the greater quality of life you will experience.
Need help getting started? Want more information?
Check out our fitness routine videos at Don's Full Range Strength YouTube channel, or website.
Below are two videos, one demonstrating the right alignment in warrior pose, and the other a spinal warm up flow that Tracy likes to do.