Exploring Gentle Exercise for Tired Bodies

Yoga can help you find balance both in your body and mind

If you suffer from a long-term condition, have noticed your joints getting a little stiffer as you age, or perhaps just aren’t as fit as you used to be, then getting motivated to exercise can seem even harder. Crohn’s disease can make my life difficult in many different ways, but I’ve found gentle exercise is a healthy way to release some of the tension that my body carries around. If you want to improve your own body image, or simply gain more mobility then one of these methods of gentle exercise might help you.

Yoga

Before giving it a go, I used to think that yoga was a bit ‘hippy-dippy’. I had no urge to align my chakras or connect with my third eye – what I did have was an urge to be able to stand up straight. Yoga can be the perfect exercise for those who are a little stiff, or struggle with mobility as it encourages you to push only as far as you’re comfortable, before holding and releasing. Even better, yoga is perfect for those with a busy lifestyle, as you can practice in as little as five minutes. This practice was designed for poker players, who are often stiff from sitting down for long periods of time. However, it works surprisingly well for those of us who can only dream of being allowed to sit down for five minutes in total!

Walking

If yoga seems a little too big of a first step, then you might be surprised to find that walking is one of the best low-impact exercises that you can do. Those who don’t fancy going out on an hour-long ramble can start slowly. Perhaps you always take the car to your corner shop? Next time challenge yourself to walk there and back and take note of how it feels. On your next excursion, you might be prompted to get off the bus a stop early or meet a friend for a walk instead of a coffee. Building a little walking here and there will soon become just a part of your everyday routine. Whilst walking alone is great exercise, if you want to up the benefits then Nordic walking is really gaining popularity. You might initially feel like a bit of a wally taking out two walking poles, but once you start to notice your arms toning up, you’ll be singing its praises.

Whether you’re just learning to swim in your local pool or braving the great outdoors, this form of exercise is really gentle on your joints

For those who really suffer with mobility issues, there’s no exercise that is lower impact than swimming. Swimming, obviously, allows our bodies to be completely suspended in water. This means that unlike in walking, for example, your knees and ankle joints don’t have to bear the weight of your body, making this a particularly good exercise for anyone who might be overweight or struggle with joint pain. Your local swimming pool is a good place to start and if you’re new to swimming you can usually find classes for adults which will not only help you to swim safely but will also keep you accountable; I know that if I’ve paid for something, I’m a whole lot more likely to go! If you’re an experienced swimmer then there are lots of wild swimming clubs all across the UK. Wild swimming is a wonderful activity because you not only get the physical benefits of swimming, you also get the mental benefits of the great outdoors.

Tai Chi

Bear with me here, because I know that Tai Chi often gets a bad rap. It isn’t only for old folks’ homes – tai chi can be a revolutionary exercise if you give it the chance. Our image of tai chi often involves old ladies in poorly fitting tracksuits swooshing their arms around in the park, and whilst there’s always a place for those old ladies in my view, that’s not all it has to be! Tai chi actually originated as one of the Chinese martial arts. It encouraged warriors to focus their attention inwards, control their movements and learn fighting techniques in a calm way. As tai chi is a non-contact sport, the impact on joints is very low. Also, because it teaches us to focus so carefully on our movements, it can be a great way for us to really get tuned in to our own bodies.

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