Don’t just be fit: be well

For most of us, September passed by in a blur of I’ll do it later and there’s always next week. Having a life balance rarely exists—the need to pass each class becomes of utmost importance. But with internships, work, and social life, it’s difficult to find the time to study.

If you strategize the way I do, I am in denial that I am too busy. I can turn 24 hours into 36 hours of productivity (or I at least I think I can). I sleep less, move faster and spend less time at any one activity, but I don’t give anything up. What I really needed to give up was that mindset.

Most of us are used to working harder under stress or while short on time. By increasing the intensity and shortening the duration of a workout, we are taught that we can reap the same health benefits as a longer, less intense workout. There needs to be a disclaimer to that statement that says “under normal conditions”. If you are sleep deprived, highly stressed, emotionally overwhelmed, or feeling burnt out do not work out as you normally would! Adding to the current stress load of your body will not offer much benefit. Current research is looking at the link between endurance exercises and increased levels of stress hormone production. So if you are on academic overload, now is not the time to train for a marathon or become an Olympic lifter.

Simply put, sometimes less is more. Here are a few workout ideas that provide not only physical benefit, but mental and spiritual benefit also.

The following classes are offered at the OU Rec Center during the Fall 2013 semester:

  • Yoga: teach physical poses ranging in intensity and duration that focus on breathing and mindfulness at the core of the practice.
    • Gentle
    • Ashtanga
    • Vinyasa
    • Hatha
    • Yin
    • Warrior
  • Pilates: teach physical poses centered on alignment, mindfulness, and stabilizing the core.
  • Yogalates: a fusion of yoga and Pilates.

Other practices that may be of benefit:

  • Physical activity: walking, jogging, gardening, biking, and numerous other leisure activities intended for general health promotion (not designed for enhancing physical fitness).
  • Qi Gong: Chinese meditative practice that focuses on breathing and gentle movements.
  • T’ai Chi: form of Chinese martial arts that focuses on breathing, coordination, and balance.
  • Massage therapy: applications of pressure to the body to decrease pain, improve circulation, and dissolve tension in bodily tissues.
  • Meditation: may be incorporated into an array of physical activities to encourage mindfulness and increase mental focus.

If you are new to the above techniques, don’t be shy! The OU Rec Center offers many Yoga and Pilates classes throughout the week at the beginner level. If you are burning out already from this semester, one of these techniques might be just what you are looking for.

Staying healthy long-term requires daily time and effort. If your body needs to slow down, it doesn’t make much sense to force it to speed up. Next time you try to turn 24 hours into 36, kindly remind yourself that it just isn’t possible. Striving to be well will ultimately help you to do well in all other areas of your life and bring you back into balance.

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