Easy does it.
That's not a bad principle when it comes to fitness. Our culture often glamorizes how exercise is meant to stress our bodies ("no pain, no gain!")—but going too hard or too soon or too far can be counterproductive. This is especially true if you've been away from physical activity for a while, or if you're recovering from injury or illness.
Restorative movement emphasizes moderation and care for your body through exercise. It gives your muscles and joints sufficient time to recover, which helps to sustain a consistent regimen in the short term while keeping the body fluid and functional as it gets older.
While restorative movement can mean different things in different contexts, try to keep in mind these 5 fundamental tips.
1. Get guidance. It's vital not to leap into a drastically new exercise routine without first laying out some basic goals and seeking advice. When we resolve to make a lifestyle change, it can be easy to overdo it and then get discouraged. It's especially important if your body needs healing to take a thoughtful approach. At EHE Health, our Health Mentors are there for this exact purpose, working one on one with people so they can understand how to make gains without unnecessary pain.
2. Stretch yourself. Warming up your body is as essential as warming up your car in the morning. Build in some extra time, either when you first wake up or especially before a workout, to ease your body into fitness. Even a simple 5-minute routine can mean the difference between a successful outing and an injury.
3. Go slow. Embrace a 30-minute rule. It's generally recommended that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. That's just 30 minutes per day. When you’re getting back into the routine, don’t overwork yourself. Even if you have to split it up into two 15-minute sessions, that’s okay.
4. Use yoga. There are many specific types of restorative movement, but one of the most beneficial and widely applicable is restorative yoga, which uses props for support so that you can hold poses more easily. This gentle stretching can help improve circulation and flexibility.
5. Explore t'ai chi. Not only is it a martial art, but T’ai chi is a meditative practice as well. With its slow and controlled movements, breathing techniques, and focus on relieving stress, T’ai chi is a wonderful option for those looking to improve the aging of both body and mind.
If you’re new to exercise, or haven’t done it for a long time, it’s important to realize that you’re really looking to create consistency. Showing up and doing less, or even reducing your regular intensity level, is better than not going at all. In fact, stopping for up to two weeks can completely unravel previous gains, research shows.
Let’s remember, however, that exercise should energize and help us feel good, too. If you’re starting off new or easing back into exercise after some time off or an illness, keep these five insights in mind to help you achieve your fitness goals.