In my last post, I briefly explained the Chinese medical reasoning behind a few of the twelve tips of acupuncturists reported by Huffington Post. This time, I’d like to add a few of my own pieces of acupuncturist advice.
Of course, one piece of advice has to be about healthy eating.
According to the Chinese medical model, the digestive organs are at their peak between the hours of seven am and eleven am. This is the optimal time of day to eat because the digestive organs are the best able to digest and utilize food. Western medical advice would echo that skipping breakfast is not ideal…if you do skip the first meal of the day, the body’s metabolism is slowed down so calories are hoarded, overeating is more likely later.
Of course, there is additional advice for exercising correctly:
I had one teacher tell me that women shouldn’t run after thirty years of age and men, not after thirty-five. Now, while I don’t agree completely, there is an important point to be made. Our bodies aren’t as resilient as we age. We take longer to heal, to repair, and to recover from strenuous exercise. If you think back, recovering from a hard workout or from an injury doesn’t seem the same as each decade passes. Recovery from a sprain at 40 is different than 20.
So what is the answer? There are a few things to consider.
Obviously but frustratingly: know where you are starting from.
Common sense decrees that if you are overweight those extra pounds will put extra stress and strain on your joints. Any exercise with impact is going to be especially hard on joints possibly causing injury. Start off with low impact and with the loss of weight you can increase the impact.
Another point made by physicians and exercise instructors is that if you are out of shape, don’t expect to return to shape as quickly as you did in your younger years. Take it slow. Add miles or weights gradually and LISTEN to your body. Exercise is a lifestyle, it should be for a lifetime…no need to get to your maintenance workout immediately.
The Chinese would advise further…
Most people are familiar with the Chinese yin-yang concept. Yin and Yang can be considered opposites: dark/light, soft/hard, calm/active, quiet/loud, etc. There are yin times of life and yang times of life. Young is yang….ever look at a kid racing around without slowing? Ever wanted to bottle up that energy and use it for yourself? That is yang energy. Children need more yang exercise: running around, kicking balls, swimming endlessly on summer days, bouncing balls up and down a court. As we grow older, the nature of the exercise we need changes. There are exceptions, but endurance athletes, weekend warriors are not the healthiest of choices for those of us with a history of athletic injuries from earlier years. Our bodies need a more yin exercise that is directed at building qi, lubricating and keeping joints open, fostering bone
health. People are surprised to learn that tai chi and qi gong are beneficial to cardiovascular health as well. These exercises are gentle enough and adaptable to benefit overweight individuals, to people recovering from long-term illnesses to elite athletes. Finding a teacher is fairly easy through the internet search engines.
For those of you with a philosophical bent, it is important to note that if you really look at yin and yang you’ll begin to see the yin within yang and yang within yin. But that is another topic altogether.
Balance in life:
Traditionally, acupuncturists are instructed not only to learn the medicine, but to learn to paint, write calligraphy, exercise (tai chi/qi gong of course), and have a spiritual practice. This helps the body and mind to live in balance. Over study, worry, and late hours have detrimental effects on the body. Requiring balance from students training in the medicine in artistic, mindful, and physical ways is beneficial the future practitioner, and to his or her future patients.
Again, I’d like to stress that the above post is supposed to be the start of a conversation or an introduction to these ideas. The above is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to contact me or another practitioner of Chinese medicine to expand upon these beginnings.