This is Idea #13 in the holistic living series. What is holistic? It means dealing with or treating the whole of something or someone and not just a part. So, in terms of living it means mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical parts considered together, interconnected and interlinked. When all these elements are looked after, life is in balance, in harmony, in peace.
We’ve talked about “clean” thoughts and meditation that do not fully, but mostly cover mental, spiritual and emotional parts of life. We’ve started to talk about physical health with good sleep and proper breathing ideas. I will not address a topic of hygiene here, while it is a very big and important part of Yoga practice, which is a good source of holistic living approach. But what I want to talk today is about physical exercise.
Every one of us noticed that we feel happy and enthusiastic when we do sports. The euphoric feelings during and after exercise is due to release of various hormones, that positively affect our body and mood. Endorphins make you feel exhilarated and happy and block any feelings of pain, so you can power through any discomfort caused by exercising. Estrogen determines whether carbs or fat fuel the body during an intense exercise session. Dopamine is a pleasure chemical. Working out regularly helps to keep dopamine levels up in order to keep overeating and weight gain under control. Growth factors are hormone-like compounds that work with satellite cells to help stimulate and regulate production of more muscle. Growth factors like hepatocyte, fibroblast, and insulin send signals to the satellite cells to move to the damaged muscle area, repair the damage following exercise, and regulate muscle mass growth, respectively. Serotonin is a chemical responsible for happiness, restful sleep, and a healthy appetite. As you work out regularly Serotonin level in the body will increase and with endorphins it will make working out a pleasurable activity. In addition, more serotonin means more energy and clearer thinking.
As you can see, a lot of hormones that make our life more pleasant can be produced. It is in our hands to make a choice and find 30 min or 1 hour in the daily schedule. Or we can live without these hormones and leave our body to age sadly, losing muscles and health gradually. Simple walk, taking stairs, visiting colleagues in the office instead of calling them, a bit of morning practice or evening exercise with any kind of gym equipment can be a solution. But if you find a sport you enjoy, and do it regularly with love and discipline, this is what will bring a difference in your life: pleasure, health and joy. For me, at different times, it was skiing, then ball dancing, then swimming, and now yoga. What is yours?