Why Do We Exercise?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Why Do We Exercise?

Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons, to aid growth and improve strength, to develop muscles and the cardiovascular system, to hone athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, to improve health, or simply for enjoyment. 

If you asked me in my twenties, I would have answered because I can. And because it makes me feel good to challenge myself. My answer in my thirties would be to stay fit and maybe lose weight. And because it makes me feel great. My response in my forties is to lose baby weight and tone up. And because it keeps me sane. And now, in my fifties, I want to be healthy! To trust my body and continue to enjoy the activities I love. And because moving my body makes me feel happy and independent. Later I would understand exercising would help me bypass my anxiety.

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

When I was a child, I remember having moments when my body felt locked up, and my thoughts overwhelmed me. At that time, I did not understand I was experiencing anxiety. I spent most of my time outdoors as a child in constant movement. I felt happy and carefree during that time. When it was time for bed, I could feel the dread creeping into my head and the tension in my body. My heart began to race. 

Once I began junior high, I discovered running. There was a track at the YMCA by my house I would run almost every day. I was not driving yet, so bike riding long distances was also a part of my weekend life. I would experience the runner’s high. The endorphins made me feel euphoric. At the time, I did not understand anxiety, endorphins, or runner high. I just knew moving my body made me feel invincible!

Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.

In high school and my late teens, I began going to parties and clubs to dance. Oh man, talk about the high music, energy, and the freedom I felt when I moved my body. I love dancing to this day and still feel all the feels. I was addicted to that good feeling so much that I would go to the gym and workout and then go straight to the club to dance the night away. I soon realized that when it was time to go to sleep, I experienced no anxiety. Because I was so tired, I just crashed out. I began to understand the effects of movement on my mental and physical body. 

At this point, I knew if I exercised, I could bypass my anxiety. So that is what I did and do. How I exercise has changed during the different stages of my life. Running became too hard on my knees. My biking game had evolved from a child’s bike to a downhill mountain bike and now a road bike and trainer. I continue to dance. Swimming, Snorkeling, and hiking are my favorites. And when YogAlign piqued my interest, I knew I had found a piece of the puzzle. With YogAlign in my toolbox, I could up my exercise game.

I now had a method to move my body in proper alignment. The SIP breathing technique would strengthen my core from the inside out. The P.N.F exercises would reset the tension in my body. Yoga postures that would create length and strength in my muscles. Understanding and utilizing proper alignment to get the most out of my practice. And I could use this method in every other exercise and activity I practiced. 

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a more advanced form of flexibility training, which involves both the stretching and contracting of the muscle group being targeted. PNF stretching is one of the most effective forms of stretching for improving flexibility and increasing range of motion.

As a child, my anxiety was unknown to me. I felt it in my body and mind but did not understand it. I get it now. And understand through my training that improper body posture can also lead to anxiety symptoms. When sitting and forward head, carriage draw, the chin to the chest breathing becomes constricted. The front of the body becomes short and tight. The back of the body becomes stretched and tired. We exercise and use the Yogalign principles to bypass these symptoms of our lifestyle.

I am 52 years young, and I have never felt better physically and mentally. I still exercise for all those reasons mentioned above. With age, I will add I exercise because if I don’t use it I will lose it! And on an emotional level, it is easy to get frustrated with aging limitations – let’s keep those Endorphines firing! 


What Is Your Fundamental Truth About Health And Wellness?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

I realized my truth of health and wellness is the practice of health and wellness – physical fitness, movement, and inner peace. Health is not merely the absence of illness or injury. It is the complete package addressing body, mind, and spirit. Including but not limited to exercise, quality rest, eating real food, staying hydrated, contemplation or reflection, and focusing on being in the moment. Gratitude, relationship, and community also play a role in health and wellness. But it is not only what I believe regarding health and wellness that is valuable but how I apply this in everyday life that keeps me healthy.

We all can agree exercise comes in many forms and, thank goodness for that. Prioritize your movement in your life now. When starting a YogAlign practice, I encourage folks to start where they are and not compare where they have been or tirelessly try to perfect where they are going. Realistic expectations keep us inspired and coming back to the practice.
I am the first to admit I have had popcorn for dinner on more than one occasion. I am also the first to admit my body, mind, and spirit were not thrilled. Eating real food is necessary to gain strength, stamina, and mental clarity food is fuel. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables and moderate serving sizes will help maintain a healthy body weight.
It is also necessary to hydrate and stay hydrated because when you lack hydration, the body does not have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. Headaches and muscle cramps can be your body’s way of telling you you need more water in your daily life. YogAlign classes encourage and create space to drink water during practice.

Quality rest in this day and age with everything moving so quickly and needing to be available 24-7 is beyond challenging. But mandatory when it comes to health and wellness. Practice your coping mechanisms now. Good rest can improve your mental health, concentration, and ability to cope with day-to-day stresses. Strengthen your immune system and maybe even put you in a better mood. At the end of a physical YogAlign practice, we leave time for savasana or resting pose by taking a moment to contemplate and reflect on the effects. It feels good to move through the body, especially if you have been sitting or inactive during most of the day. Then we can sink into a more peaceful place and recharge.
Get, stay and be in the moment now. Letting go of any thoughts, ideas, or worries at that moment, we have created a space for choice. We can decide if we want to pick them back up or not at the end of class.

Calling in gratitude for the way our bodies carry us through everyday life. We can Acknowledge how we wake up in the morning our, brain and body know what to do. During YogAlign Practice, when we have aligned the spine in natural curves, the body connects naturally as a continuum. We feel relaxed, balanced, secure, and peaceful. Cultivate stable, long-term relationships now. And we can take the positive effects and peacefulness into our community into our relationships. We all know the way we feel affects everyone around us. Healthy habits, healthy boundaries, and respect for ourselves and others create favorable conditions for healthy, happy relationships. These relationships may lead to our communities practicing health and wellness not just for themselves but for everyone around them.

The practice of health and wellness does not stop when we step off our yoga mat. But continues and is just getting started.