In my twenties, I cared not for any movement more than the occasional power walk, hike, bike ride, and night out dancing. I didn’t work out or play sports anymore – something I did a lot of in my youth and teenage years – and my body was stiff. By the time I hit 29 I felt like I was 80 years old. That ain’t cool! (Can anyone relate?).
As I began changing my habits and eating healthier, my body craved more movement. I started bike riding, practicing yoga a few times a week, and regularly took Essentrics classes. This was when I realized how integral movement is for my brain and body, especially when paired with a healthy diet that’s intended to both heal and protect me.
When I started reading into it and learning more in school, I discovered the following:
Exercise Improves Digestion
Your digestive tract is made up of involuntary muscle that, believe it or not, also needs to be exercised. When you strengthen the skeletal muscles of your core and all the muscles that support your torso, you’re also strengthening the connected smooth muscle of your digestive tract, allowing for better passage of food through your body, decreasing fermentation causing gas and bloating, increasing nutrient absorption and giving you better poops. And who doesn’t want better poops?
Exercise Improves Mood
The brain is also a muscle and as such, it needs oxygen and blood on a regular basis, which comes in more concentrated amounts from exercise and deep breathing. Full body movement helps circulate blood carrying oxygen through your entire body, improving nerve impulses and connections, and getting nutrients and neurotransmitters to your brain more efficiently, making sure that your body is speaking to itself in all the right ways. You’ll be firing on all cylinders!
Exercise and Nutrition are Symbiotic
Good nutrition is necessary for ease of movement and the energy to do so. On the flip side, muscles need to be worked so they can help keep your body nourished and active, moving the food you’re feeding it to the places it needs to be (like back to the muscles!). I’ve found that a good diet can take you about 90% of the way there, but movement is key in bringing you closer to 100%. It doesn’t need to be strenuous, but the goal is to support your body as it does its thing, especially when you’re giving it such delicious, nutrient-dense food to work with. It would be a shame to let it almost go to waste!
Are you in Vancouver and looking for movement classes? See the yoga and movement classes hosted by Local Health Integrative Clinic.
By Jacqueline Conte, CNP Holistic Nutritionist.