Why your body needs the GAS PEDAL and the BRAKE to stay resilient

Mona

Lately, it feels like every direction we turn we’re faced with BIG challenges. We’re being asked to endure SO MUCH just to preserve our health and our sanity. Feeling trapped in our homes, watching in horror as the election race unfolds, nerves frayed with fire and weather alerts. Will it be safe to breathe the air tomorrow? Will we have the power to get our jobs done, schoolwork finished, or cook our food, or do our laundry?

The good news is that our bodies hold the antidote to these challenges. 

There is a secret formula that our cardiovascular, muscular, and nervous systems use to keep us resilient.  I call it using the gas pedal and the brake. Not because I’m a car aficionado or anything, or that I think our bodies are as simple as machines, but because I like easy analogies and I think this one will make sense to you, too.

Check out some fascinating ways in which your body leverages these two states to keep you healthy and able to bounce back from anything.

Strength training creates tiny tears in our muscle fibers (and that’s why you might feel sore after a new workout.)

Those tiny tears heal with proper recovery and then allow for our muscles to grow and become stronger.

Cardiovascular exercise builds more energy capacity, improves our oxygen usage, plus gears up our nervous system for action.

Rest between intervals of work (or days off from training cardio) teaches the body to recover more efficiently, which allows for a quicker response time the next time our systems are called upon.

Mild stresses of daily life require us to rally our cognitive abilities and resourcefulness. Navigating obstacles successfully gives us a sense of self-mastery and confidence. (This is NOT the same as chronic stress, which lacks the brake pedal.)

Mindful movement, meditation, and other calming activities give our nervous system the chance to come back to a restful state. This restful state allows for improved sleep, digestion, creativity, and readiness for the next time your nervous system is stimulated.

Even a 30 minute workout increases our levels of neurotransmitters, elevating mood right away (after you get done cussing out the instructor 😉  

The post-exercise recovery process makes it harder to rattle our cages the next time we’re faced with a stressful situation. Regular exercise with ample recovery activates genes that protect cells against damage and disease.

The shitastrophy (shut up spell check, it’s totally a word) of this year have bombarded our nervous systems like never before. Can we please lay off the gas pedal already?! Pump the damned brakes!!!

If you’ve been feeling distracted, forgetful, anxious, or having trouble sleeping, it’s no wonder! If your body is feeling weak because you’ve been stuck in freeze mode, or ignoring your fitness because you haven’t had the energy, that’s understandable.

Now is the time to recognize that you have options and a secret formula for your resilience!

Here are some ways to rev your engine and put the brakes on feelings like anxiety, depression, and distraction.

Take a class that gets your heart rate up and makes your muscles work hard (like Rebel Recess, HIIT & Chill, or Stable & Strong).

Take a class that includes slower, mindful movement (like any of our yoga classes or Core Galore).

Crank up the stereo and dance around to music that makes your spirit soar!

Engage in a soothing hobby like reading, gardening, or crafting.

Try 20-second interval sprints when you’re walking the dog or on your next walk or hike.

Get a massage* (or make a date with your foam roller).

So remember to get your heart rate up AND include some active rest so that you can stay bulletproof through this pandemic (and your life).

*Alameda county has allowed for massage therapy services to open back up again! We’re working on our new protocols (which are extensive) so that we can bring this service to you safely. Keep your eyes on your inbox as we make progress towards this.

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