The Balancing Act of Fitness - Alliance Integrative Medicine

The Balancing Act of Fitness

Most of us have seen the yin/yang symbol at some point but do you know what it means?

Did you know that it relates to all of life including how you exercise?

Yin is the white side of the symbol and means the hidden/feminine/receptive/potential side of being.

Yang is the black side of the symbol and means the outwardly expressed/action/male side of being.

Within each side is a dot of the other as this represents the creative cycle of life itself. Just as feminine or masculine energy reach their peak, the opposite shows itself similar to a mirror. I think that is beautiful.

Regardless of our gender, each of us has a yin and yang in our being. When we seek to participate in intelligent fitness, we thrive by making our exercise choices around this concept. What does that mean? Well, when I was a child I naturally gravitated towards swimming, jumping rope, hula hooping, and riding my bike. As I matured, I gravitated toward yoga and walking. Now that I’m even more mature (!) I have returned to cycling, Zumba and a more individualized style of yoga/Pilates. What guided my choices? Each of us is an individual wired slightly different one from one another. Some are more competitive, some like endurance sports, and some think exercise is a four-letter word!

For me, my school/work schedule became an increasing factor in finding time to exercise. Three pregnancies in my 30’s certainly affected me as well. While pregnant, I found water aerobics to be the most comfortable. Later in my 40’s, I got injured while doing yoga and had to stop classes for a time to heal. I attempted to go to class again only to discover my lower abdominal muscles were too weak to safely fold forward in class. I began doing more resistance machines/free weights and rediscovered dance as a means of elevating my heart rate.

So what does all this have to do with yin and yang?

I’m glad you asked! It turns out that intelligent fitness through the decades of your life requires balance of outward and inward movement. Outward (yang) exercises are things like running, tennis, competitive group sports. Inward (yin) exercises are more like yoga, stretching, and deep breathing. Golf, cycling, dance have qualities of both as they require some elements of an inward focus at times. A zen quality you might say. Really it is less about the activity itself and more about the WAY you are doing it. Mindfulness is involved with yin exercise. Neither is better than the other but the message is to cross-train your body and participate in a variety of activities.

As a physician at AIM, I see the results when people overdo any one form of exercise–especially as their bodies age. We become less flexible and more prone to tendon/muscular/ligamentous injuries. This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak. How much easier is it to avoid injury than to work to heal it? A LOT I would say. So have some fun with movement. Switch it up, try something new and don’t be afraid of looking silly! Your inner child awaits you.

Be Fit and Be Well.

By Dr. Elizabeth Woolford

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