Healing Key 4: Movement and Exercise are Crucial to Healing

Time to move from diet to other healing keys — but this is the one that makes diet and nutrition work.

The most important nutrient is oxygen. A sedentary lifestyle and poor posture can combine to interfere with how much oxygen is delivered to the lungs, limit blood flow to the muscles (contributing to fatigue), and keep a steady, localized tension causing pain (the neck and lower back in particular).

Oxidative stress causes inflammation and eventual cell damage – and the pain that accompanies inflammation. If left unchecked, it eventually breaks down connective tissue. That’s one reason sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass), common in 45% of older Americans, is seen in persistent pain, and it also lowers the metabolic rate, leading to weight gain. It’s among the reasons exercise is vital for recovery.


Movement is necessary for a healthy, pain-free life and to manage weight–and hence, inflammation and pain.
In addition to oxidation, it releases pain-relieving endorphins. It sends a message to your cells that you’re thriving, and they respond in kind – and when you’re sedentary, the message is that you’re sick and dying, and they respond similarly. Movement is also essential for your lymph system, which, even though it’s far larger than the circulatory system, has no pump, so exercise is crucial to help it do it’s job—removing wastes from the body. Without it, toxins accumulate, and ability to fight infection by transporting white blood cells is inhibited.

Even if you are struggling with joint pain, arthritis, problems walking, autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia—you cannot escape persistent pain without movement. Exercise is vital to your recovery. While you don’t want to cause injury or to exacerbate the pain, the right movements can actually help alleviate chronic pain. Massage can help here, as can a good physical therapy program. Movement will improve your mood as well (through better functioning body chemistry).

Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean a work-out at the gym. I help people with gentle yoga and basic T’ai Chi, for example, that anyone can do. Walking and swimming are fine exercises—something you enjoy and will do regularly is the key. And I do mean everyone: one of my clients was bed-ridden and couldn’t turn by herself. A month later, she was sitting up in an armchair, and when her knitting yarn fell behind the chair, she could retrieve it herself, without calling for help—a major win for her.

People often talk about “stuck energy” in conjunction with healing; exercise and movement are key to unstuckness at the physical level. And when you’re stuck emotionally or mentally — move a muscle, change a thought. Get up and moving…and you’ll find yourself moving metaphorically again as well.

Next time — Healing Key 5: Knowledge of Self-Healing

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Tim Emerson
Kwan Yin Healing

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