We’re fed the ideal lifestyle images, we hear from scientists about the effect exercise can have on the body and mind, but is it true and how do we know for sure?
Largely through felt experience actually but more recently through hard evidence. Those who do exercise regularly feel the benefits in real time. Had a stressful day in the office?Been in an unexpected argument with a loved one? The stress hormones that we release in our bodies during and after these experiences leave us with tension, anxiety and large levels of stress. If that has ever driven you to go for a run or swim or your favourite fitness class you will know that moving has helped calm you down and look at the situation with a renewed perspective. A more realistic and controllable one.
Why is that? Well, researches at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have discovered that during periods of exercise muscles start to act much like your liver and actually start to clear out the molecules linked to stress and depression by producing a certain enzyme.
‘Skeletal muscle appears to have a detoxification effect, that when activated, can protect the brain from mental illness.’ – Dr. Ruas (Karolinska institute in Sweden)
So why are we not harnessing this incredible natural ability? It’s as if we are losing touch with our bodies capabilities and superpowers!
Unfortunately, most peoples day to day consist of a great deal of ‘sitting’. Something our bodies were never designed to do! Mind HK’s statistics show that a mere 48.6% of Hong Kongers achieve the recommended levels of weekly physical activity, and the rest of the world is more like 33%.
What does it mean for the youth? It means that many young people are living in high pressurised, stressful and anxiety inducing situations and are not getting the right dose of physical activity necessary to detoxify themselves.
Many of our prehistoric tendencies are still with us today, including the fight or flight response. However, back when we used to live in caves we would fight or flee and that rush of physical activity would help to rid of the body of the stress causing chemicals. Nowadays, we may have a fight with someone and sit in front of the TV sulking. This stagnation, sitting in positions that only help intensify the tensions lead us eventually to bad postures, ill health, poor circulation, bad moods and increased risk of depression.
It highlights that we must look at the whole lifestyle of people suffering from such illnesses including a well rounded healthy weekly routine of physical activity and correct diet. It also highlights we need to do more to encourage ‘effort’ when it comes to movement practices. We hear of the benefits of meditation, of exercise, but truth be told many of us are simply to lazy, feel sluggish and are unmotivated even when we know the benefits are so good. It’s a vicious cycle, the less we do the less we wan’t to do, especially when we hear of faster alternatives like taking a pill!
We must encourage the young to get up and move, especially today when screen time is on the increase. It’s not always easy to get up and get motivated and we often just need a little nudge to get the ball rolling.
At Mindful Wing Chun we interact with hundreds of students of all ages who are dealing with stress induced tensions, over stimulated brains and who live with varying degrees of pain, headaches and immobility. We are privileged to have the opportunity to work with the community who are determined to better their futures and we see great changes in their wellbeing, outlook and overall demeanour throughout their practice. It takes patience and great persistence, it’s a real challenge with many obstacles. It’s not an easy journey but certainly well worth the effort!
Wing Chun, specifically the Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin method, encourages students to, though the physical practice, begin to notice the effect it can have on their mind, their interactions in daily life, work productivity as well as their training in the Kwoon. It becomes an all round lifestyle.
As the topic of movement and mental health is close to our hearts we fully support Mind HK’s campaign and pledge to bring awareness to the importance of physical activity for the overall health of the mind.
We are holding a free class to encourage people to #moveitformentalhealth at our headquarters in Central this Saturday 16th at 6pm. You’re welcome to join but register first as there are only 20 spaces available. (13 years+).
Call 6620 7050 to save a spot or message us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get moving and feel the difference!