Connecting With Your Body Through Movement
When people engage in physical activities that require complex, coordinated movements, it becomes easy to imagine the mind spreading from the head into the rest of the body. This is especially true after reaching an advanced level of skill and proficiency in the activity such as in sports.
In this state, which some scientists refer to as “flow,” effort feels less like a loss of energy than a gain in momentum. The seeming ease with which an action is done conceals the complexity of the action—even to the person doing the action. Over time, the body learns and then enables the person to accomplish a task more efficiently whether it’s hitting a fast-moving ball with a racket, swimming towards a personal best, or even holding a pose in yoga, all this while minimizing physical and mental effort.
What this seems to do is free the mind up to be aware of more things—both about the person’s own body as well as their environment—than it does when the body is sedentary.
Exercises that use the large muscle groups of the legs, such as walking, running or cycling, also strengthen the limbs to support the body during movement. This article from Jillian Michaels emphasizes how exercise pushes muscles to work to stabilize the spine and keep the body upright during a movement. Besides that, lifting weights puts stress on the bones and increases its density. These things come together to contribute to a deeper bodily awareness of the relationships between the bones and muscles, all while the higher complexity in movement, forces the body towards more efficiency and the saving of energy.
The body does this best with proper posture, and it is both the sign of and an incentive to, the body that moves. Which is probably the reason why young children who get to play a lot and use their bodies to do complex actions normally have impeccable posture.
The more that people move, the better they eat—and the less they’d have to think about it. This article by Jess Goulart a regular contributor to the tennis website Play Your Court, points out that complex activities such as sports help people develop an awareness of the effect that food has on their performance. It becomes easier for them to make the connection between unhealthy food and sluggishness, as well as between healthy food and increased levels of energy, focus, and stamina. Because everybody is different, the person’s memory of this information about the connections between food and its effects, when accumulated, becomes more valuable than even the most comprehensive diet regimen out there.
Physical activity promotes better blood circulation as well as proper posture and breathing. This leads to better mental and emotional stability. This article from The Brain Flux highlights that exercise not only relieves stress but teaches the body and the brain to deal with it better. Compared to other stressful situations in modern life, such as having to face a difficult person or tackling a challenging task, exercise stimulates stress and responds to it in a way that engages all, and not just one, of the body’s faculties. And regular exposure to this kind of stimulus-response translates from the gym to the office. Exercise doesn’t fully relieve anxiety but teaches the person—and the body—the way to deal with it when it comes.