In Chinese medicine, the state of your health is all about a balance of energy or Qi (pronounced chee).
Think of Qi as your energy circuitry, a bit like electricity moving rhythmically throughout your body. When our Qi flowes freely the way it should, we have the energy to do anything. But when it is slow and stagnant, we often don’t feel like moving a muscle.
A gentle and consistent exercise routine is an easy, low-cost way to get energy circuitry flowing.
Here are some simple ways to use exercise to move your Qi and maintain a healthy immune system:
Make a Commitment to Exercise
First of all, it’s important to get out and move. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to Qi blockages, a sure road to illness. So commit to exercising every day. Start with an easy walk down the street. Then, as you improve, add some weight bearing exercises for your bones, in addition to flexibility training such as yoga or pilates. Remember, the aim is to train your energy to flow in a balanced, rhythmic rate throughout your body.
Many of us join a gym with the best of intentions. We go all out for a few weeks, and then before you know it, we start to slack off. Whether we give up due to injury or apathy, in the end, we’ve often done more harm than good. The important thing is to start gradually, and commit to a regular 10 or 20 minute routine that doesn’t overtax your Qi reserves.
Add Variety and Make it Fun
One of the main reasons people don’t stick to a regular routine is because it stops being fun. This is why adding variety is critical. If you’re getting bored after a half hour walk or jog, add a fast climb up a nearby hill to your route. If you are hesitant about exercising alone, do it with others. Try yoga or a dance class, or even a swim at the local pool. Remember that it is variety, not routine, that stimulates the brain. Your body will follow right along.
Many athletes and type A’s train and exercise for long hours, often suffering irritability, fatigue, and injuries. Excessive exercise can drain your Qi, leaving your immune system open to viral attacks and disease.
For exercise to be effective it has to be appropriate to the individual, to you. So know your limits. Challenge yourself, but don’t deplete your energy bank account.
Balance Activity and Rest
Remember, always keep a balance between the type and amount of exercise that you do. An easy way to do this is by creating built-in periods of rest between phases of intense exercise. For example if you run or jog, incorporate some periods of walking instead. Similarly, your weight routine might include some rest in between repetitions.
Once you begin exercising on a regular basis, you’ll have more energy, feel less stressed, and be more awake and alert. A consistent and sustainable exercise plan keeps you healthy and happy, while maintaining a healthy immune system.
Dr Esther Ting, Ph.D. has practiced Chinese medicine for over 40 years. Her grandfather founded the first Chinese Medical College and Chinese Medicine
Hospital in China. You can visit her at Ting’s Healing Center at 2121 Cloverfield Boulevard, Suite #133 in Santa Monica, or call her at 310.315.0455. Marianne Jas is a consultant and author, and has been working in partnership with Dr. Ting for several years.