Views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily the Health & Wellness Committee, and are not a substitute for talking to your doctor.
Trying to turn back the clock now,” a long-time Co-op friend said as we caught up on our families. We had just shared a bit about summer hiking adventures. Yes, he gets it, I thought. Movement matters. A lot. Especially at our age.
I am not an athlete, I do not go to gyms. I go to the Wissahickon.
The energetic qualities of nature in September make it easier to get outside. I do like easy. Hot and humid days have transformed into cooler, crisper ones. Skies are so beautifully blue with amazing cloud formations, and nature is showing some of her finest displays. One of the best ways I experience nature’s multi-sensory delights is with a walk or a hike.
Whether I walk or hike in the Wissahickon, the activity gives me a good assessment of what is going on in my body and mind. Walking informs me of what is slack, and what I need to work on. My visit to the park pays off with increased mobility in my knees, stronger proprioception and vision and keeps my heart happy. I enjoy the park as a place for socializing, my fitness center and my local botanical art museum all in one. Once I learned how to stay warm in winter, I had myself an annual lifetime pass.
Walking and other activities are being prescribed to transform the illnesses that relate to “lifestyle” (read that “modifiable”) factors. Lifestyle medicine, a growing specialty, shares research around lifestyle-related diseases like pre-diabetes, cardio- and cerebrovascular disease, anxiety and depression. LM asks patients to avoid environments that are morbidogenic. Conversely, putting oneself in environments that will make one to want to move is considered therapeutic.
With the movement medicine of LM, you work with your doctor to discover your dose and frequency based on your condition and adjust your behavior over time. Interviewing patients to learn what motivates them helps them find their own prescription for living well each day.
Hippocrates told us that if we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, we would have found the safest way to health, but we lost our way for a while as heroic medicine got all the attention. Eastern cultures have never stopped using mindful movement (yoga and qigong) as medicine.
Finding how to put movement into your day is worth it in the long run. It takes time to get new habits going, so be patient, and do not do it alone.
Our medical ancestors thought there was no better medicine.
Margaret Kinnevy, RN, LAc offers medical and advanced acupuncture with a specialty in women-centered care in Mt. Airy. She offers Women’s Natural Flow Qigong and acupuncture at the Healing Arts Studio in Chestnut Hill.