Action and reaction. Check out these tips on how to be well-rested AND have enough energy to exercise during the day. With a little organization it’s easy to do!
Dynamic Movement & Rest
There is a law in physics that states for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Since our quality of rest is so tied into our quality of life and quality of movement or exercise, let’s discuss both at the same time.
Here, we will be discussing multiple ways to get better, relaxing and restorative sleep as well as how to get the most from your workouts, and staying energetic and flexible throughout the day. Let’s begin with dynamic movement, which we have already referred to as our workouts and staying energetic and flexible during the day.
In ancient times there were many stories told about two neighboring bodies of water in the Middle East –the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. One of them was and is known for its fishing industry while the other is known for its healing properties because of the different kinds of salts. Although good things come out of both the one that best represents human physiology is the Sea of Galilee because it directly supports life unlike the Dead Sea which has very few organisms that can survive its waters. That is because there is constant movement and turnover of the water in Galilee because the Jordan River runs through it and keeps it well-stirred.
Of course, the difference between a live person and a dead body seconds after death is that there is no longer any movement of brain cell to body cell. That is easy, everyone understands that. But on another level those people who move better because they stay strong, have efficient cardiovascular systems and good balance or coordination have a much higher quality of life, and get more “life out of their years” than those who do not move as well.
Most spinal problems are related to the muscles and joints which support the back. An appropriate exercise program can help heal, rehabilitate, and maintain the flexibility and strength of your musculoskeletal system. Here’s how exercise helps: Tense, chronically contracted muscles can start a chain of physiological events which may lead to many different kinds of back, hip, and neck problems which of course may cause subluxation of the atlas or C1 vertebra. Excess tension in the muscles creates rigidity which diminishes blood and oxygen circulation, causing your muscles to become brittle and more susceptible to strains and tears.
This tension also causes imbalances and uneven tension which can throw off the alignment of your joints. Muscular weakness or laxity on the other hand, can put unnatural demands on the ligaments and tissues of your spine, causing damage to discs and spinal hinges, or facets. Musculoskeletal health depends upon dynamic balance between muscle strength and flexibility, as well as coordination.
Coordination exercise, also called proprioceptive exercise or muscle confusion exercise, is the most overlooked of the various forms of exercise. Coordination exercises range from learning a new dance to brushing your teeth with your opposite hand.
Maybe an example would help. Consider stroke victims, brain-injured veterans, and young children. We know that when one part of the brain is damaged, other areas will compensate as the person “re-learns” how to feed themselves. Brain injury survivors and toddlers first start moving their arms with very general movements and eventually they’re able to bend their elbow and turn their wrist at the same time (if they are capable) and they can often begin feeding themselves within a few months. When practicing a newly learned movement the spine naturally moves toward an erect posture as a person’s concentration increases.
A perfect example of this is someone sitting on a big gym ball or Swiss ball or standing with toning shoes such as MBT’s or Sketchers Shape-Ups or Reebok Easy Tone or Jump Tones. Stop paying attention to your posture and you will lose your balance with wearing a pair of those shoes or sitting on such a ball.
Doing regular proprioceptive types of exercise has been shown to help to minimize the aging effects in the brain because it produces increased blood supply to the hippocampus which is responsible for long term memory (body movement memory is almost the same as factual memory). As a matter of fact, regular muscle confusion exercise has been shown to be just as effective as doing four crossword puzzles per day in preventing age-related mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
Examples of coordination exercises are: learning a new dance, sitting on a fit disc at your work station, taking a speed-typing course, putting the fork in your opposite hand, using Wii Fit, and peripheral vision training. Along with the mental health benefits the physical benefits of this type of exercise are fall and injury prevention and better timing and agility.
Now that we’ve talked about an area of exercise which you probably didn’t know a lot about, let’s talk briefly about the other two important areas –strength training and cardiovascular conditioning.
Cardiovascular exercise basically means doing whatever it takes to get your blood circulating to all parts of your body. This includes stretching your muscles in a pain-free zone for at least 30 seconds while breathing in through your nose and/or a variety of rapid movements such as jogging, jumping rope, playing sports or walking. Walking has long been known as one of the best types of exercise because pretty much anyone can do it, it’s low impact on the joints, and it has direct immune benefits because of the rebounding figure 8 movement of the hips which pumps and cleans the lymphatic tissues of the whole body –especially the lower half.
Strength training. Strength training is the most difficult of the different forms of exercise to regularly perform because in order to reach one’s strength goals, it often requires equipment that most people don’t have at home which necessitates driving to the gym. This can often easily become a problem and frustration because if a person is also used to doing the other types of exercise at the gym since they’re used to doing the weightlifting at the gym, then all three of them will be neglected. For some with unpredictable schedules, it might be best to work in all forms of exercise as part of a regular daily routine.
This isn’t to say that exercising lightly every day is better than exercising moderately three days a week, but you can create a lot of peace in your life if your workouts were as easy and ordinary a task as brushing your teeth or making your bed.
As in cardiovascular and proprioceptive exercise, it is important to pick exercises that you enjoy and do them with a partner if possible (this helps to ensure your own compliance).
It is also beneficial to keep track of and write down four things: 1) which exercises you’re doing; 2) how much weight; 3) how many repetitions; and 4) how many sets. As a general rule for people trying to gain muscle mass higher weight with less reps is key, and for people wanting to maintain their tone and maximize joint health, less weight and more reps (at least 15).
Now let’s talk about the other side of the coin –rest. The better your rest the more energy you will have during the day, which of course will improve your ability to get the correct amount of movement. In turn, this will help to prevent tossing and turning during the night.
Some cultures consider the beginning of the day as actually being the night right before bedtime. You can borrow from these cultures by learning to plan for the next day before going to bed. Doing this can bring a sense of relaxation because you already have a glimpse into tomorrow and hopefully you can “rest” assured that you won’t encounter too many surprises the next day.
When it is time to hit the hay, here is a list of things you can do to get the most restorative sleep possible:
1. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time –even on the weekends. Staying on a consistent sleep-wake cycle will help you
get into sleep mode much quicker.
2. Make your bedroom as quiet and dark as possible. Use black-out
curtains, an eye cover, earplugs, a fan or other white noise maker and
whatever else it may take to create an environment that suits your
3. Choose a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillow. You spend
about a third of your life in bed and so this is an absolute necessity.
4. Avoid caffeine and nicotine during the evening. These substances are
5. Don’t eat or drink large amounts right before bed. This will help your
parasympathetic nervous system to stay in rest mode and not have to
deal with digesting which will help you to get deeper sleep. Oh and of
course, this means less trips to the bathroom.
6. Sleep during the night. Try to accomplish your work or get a job that
you do during the day. Studies on human bio-rhythms show that
melatonin levels are best in people who sleep during the night time.
7. Proper amount of movement during the day. If you can’t fall asleep
within 15-20 minutes, get up and do something else for a while. Don’t
agonize over why you can’t fall asleep.
Remember to get a proper amount of both movement and rest. Balance in this area will help to create balance in all other aspects of your life!