I'm always preaching to my clients and patients about the benefits of movement. Muscle movement not only benefits our circulatory system and lymphatic system but it keeps our tissues hydrated.
In my world of working with the lymphatic and fascial (connective tissue) systems, I constantly see people who don't move enough. Whether this is due to lack of time, or due to a sedentary job or lifestyle, it is becoming more prevalent. Of course, technology doesn't help. Most of us sit behind our computers, laptops and various hand held devices for a large part of our day and, it isn't good for our health.
So, with my knowledge of how potentially detrimental lack of movement is to our general health and well-being, I'm on a mission to educate people on the benefits of exercise and to how it can physically and psychologically benefit you.
Muscle movement creates a pump which helps move fluid around our body. Our heart pumps blood around the body. However, the lymphatic system (this forms part of our immune system) relies upon muscle movement to encourage the lymphatics to pick up fluid in the tissues and transport that fluid to lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are like filtration stations. They filter the fluid and produce immune cells. The lymphatic system is like our fluid waste system. It keeps our skin and tissues, like muscles, clean and healthy by removing damaging cells like viruses and bacteria. The lymphatic system is also responsible for removing swelling. So, if you've had an injury through sport where you have swelling, it is your lymphatic system which will remove the swelling. Also, if you've had surgery where you get tissue swelling afterwards, it is the lymphatic system responsible for draining the swelling. And, that is why you are always encouraged to move after an injury or surgery so that the muscles pump and encourage movement of fluid into the lymphatic system. Of course, elevation is also of benefit but movement is more important. And, having lymphatic massage will speed up both of those healing processes. However, I'm here to talk about the benefits of movement, not of the benefits of lymphatic massage - that's a topic for another blog.
Sometimes, weight bearing after an injury or surgery isn't possible. But, you don't need to be upright and on your feet to move your muscles. Wriggling your toes and paddling your feet is great for your lower legs and doing gentle knee bends and hip movement, like you're cycling while lying on your back, is great for your whole leg. Not only is this encouraging up-take of fluid in your legs but you are keeping your muscles and connective tissue 'lubricated'. You know what it's like if you're in the one position for too long - your muscles get achy. This is because they get 'stuck' in the one position. By keeping your connective tissue and therefore your muscles moving, you're keeping the tissues hydrated, causing less pain and discomfort.
I try to do some sort of exercise every day. Being self employed, I appreciate how difficult it is to do it EVERY day. However, I do believe that the physical benefits and psychological benefits of doing exercise and keeping moving, even every other day, are huge. I work from home so only need to walk from my kitchen into my treatment room - which is about 5 steps. I know that if I don't get outside and get fresh air in my lungs and sun on my skin, that I feel tired. I try to go the the gym at least twice a week and I'm going back to yoga having had a four month break. For me yoga not only benefits me physically but I love the meditative aspect of it. I can completely switch off from work worries when I do yoga. Walking, for me, can be extremely cathartic. Particularly if I'm having a difficult day or week (or month). It helps me put things in perspective. I'm lucky that I have some lovely walks around me with some lovely views.
So, I would like to encourage you to do regular exercise. Not only will it benefit your health but it will make you feel better about yourself.
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