Pillar #2 - Activity

Includes physical and mental activities that promote optimal vitality.

The second pillar, Activity, includes both physical and mental actions that we take to utilize and enhance our storehouse of energy. Do you intelligently use and build your energy through physical and mental activities that promote optimal vitality? Physical and mental activity are two of the most important factors in keeping your mind and body in vibrant condition and generating greater physical and mental strength and flexibility.

Consider both aspects of your daily life, physical and mental. Do you have an exercise routine you stick to? How much of your day is spent in a chair? Are you routinely challenging your brain and sharpening your mental acuity? Do you regularly perform activities that help enhance your creativity and imagination?

Communities supporting the Activity Pillar

What is Activity?

What things do you do that make you feel most vibrant inside? How can you best use your energy to care for your body and mind and generate more vitality? What movements and activities make your body and mind come alive? If there was an energizing, fun, and vigorous activity you could do every day and not get tired of, what would it be? In what ways are your body and mind calling out to you to be moved? What parts of you are feeling stagnant or stiff, and how can you best move them?

When we ask ourselves these questions, we are drawn to tune in to how we feel when we are performing various activities. Not all activities have the same benefits for every person. For some, going to the gym to lift weights, swim, or participate in classes on a regular basis is beneficial, while for others, doing yoga, playing golf, or gardening may be the most positive ways they stay active. The same can be said for mental activities.

For some, reading books and doing crossword puzzles is constructive for the mind, while for others, creative writing and playing intellectual games may be more helpful.

When it comes to activity, what is most important is that we do it regularly and consistently. Many people think that going to the gym for 30-60 minutes constitutes all of the activity needed for their day, and they spend the majority of the rest of the day sitting or rarely moving.

However, as research has shown, constant sitting leads to stagnation that can actually negate all of the benefits of the vigorous activity we do.1-3 Standing up, shifting positions, and moving is important as a regular activity all throughout the day.4 We call these regular movements throughout the day “non-exercise physical activities,” and they are the most important activities for promoting longevity and overall health.5,6

Ultimately, it is important for each of us to find balance in our activity routines. Both the mind and body can become stagnant from a sedentary lifestyle, and they can also be overly stressed and taxed by too much activity.7,8

However, as we continue to perform activities on a regular basis, our bodies and minds build up reserves to better manage stress and can learn to use stress as a way to grow.9,10  This is the primary benefit of an active lifestyle and how exercise elicits positive physical and mental results. It is important to become mindful of the activities that work best for each of us and to stay consistent in what we do. The benefits will multiply over time.

Physical and mental activity are two of the most important factors in keeping your mind and body in vibrant condition and generating greater physical and mental strength and flexibility. By keeping both the mind and body active, we continuously feed them with various forms of energy. The human body and mind was made to work and be kept busy.

Keeping busy keeps everything in working order, clean, and lubricated. Physical activity (exercise and movement) keeps the muscles, skeleton, and organs in working order. Mental activity does the same for the brain. It is important to optimize our activity levels. Too little activity is actually just as dangerous as too much activity.

It’s important to find the right balance. Ultimately, the best plan for starting and implementing an active lifestyle is to begin slow and build up over time. Consistency is the key to building up a healthy mental and physical fitness routine.

I intelligently use and build my energy through physical and mental activities that promote optimal vitality.

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References:

  1. Nigam Y, Knight J, Bhattacharya S, Bayer A. Physiological changes associated with aging and immobility. J Aging Res. 2012;2012:468469.
  2. Takamatsu Y, Koike W, Takenouchi T, et al. Protection against neurodegenerative disease on Earth and in space. npj Microgravity. 2016;2:16013.
  3. Ingber DE. Tensegrity-based mechanosensing from macro to micro. Progress in biophysics and molecular biology. 2008;97(2):163-179.
  4. Pavy-Le Traon A, Heer M, Narici MV, Rittweger J, Vernikos J. From space to Earth: advances in human physiology from 20 years of bed rest studies (1986–2006). European journal of applied physiology. 2007;101(2):143-194.
  5. Davies KJ. Adaptive homeostasis. Molecular Aspects of Medicine. 2016.
  6. Vernikos J, Schneider VS. Space, gravity and the physiology of aging: parallel or convergent disciplines? A mini-review. Gerontology. 2009;56(2):157-166.
  7. Gomez-Pinilla F. The influences of diet and exercise on mental health through hormesis. Ageing research reviews. 2008;7(1):49-62.
  8. Mastaloudis A, Yu TW, O’Donnell RP, Frei B, Dashwood RH, Traber MG. Endurance exercise results in DNA damage as detected by the comet assay. Free radical biology & medicine. 2004;36(8):966-975.
  9. Gomez-Cabrera M-C, Domenech E, Viña J. Moderate exercise is an antioxidant: upregulation of antioxidant genes by training. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 2008;44(2):126-131.
  10. Wilund KR. Is the anti-inflammatory effect of regular exercise responsible for reduced cardiovascular disease? Clinical Science. 2007;112(11):543-555.

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