Does the thought of slugging it out at a gym or being pushed to your physical limits in an intensive workout send you into a cold sweat? Strenuous exercise isn’t for everyone. Low-impact exercise — especially the type that allows the mind to recharge — can be just as good as a heart-racing workout, say the experts.
Today, we take you through some of our favourites.
Chief instructor at Tai Chi for All Robert Russell-Brown says the initial benefits of tai chi include improved joint mobility, balance, posture and breathing — but the benefits go beyond the physical.
“By focusing on the here and now of the movements and breathing, the ‘idle chatter of the mind’ ceases and students are often surprised that an hour has passed. It is for this reason that tai chi is often called moving meditation, ” he says.
Master Russell-Brown says a big attraction of tai chi is that it is a low-impact activity. He says it is common to see people in their 80s performing the set movements to relaxing music, while remaining calm and serene.
Physiotherapist and co-founder of Pilates in the Park Perth Erin Forrest says the physical benefits of Pilates as a form of exercise can be immense, including improved strength, flexibility and injury prevention.
“In today’s society where people work more than ever at mostly sedentary desk jobs it’s so important to find time to do some strengthening and stretching, and Pilates combines this to give you an all-over body workout, ” she says.
As well as promoting improved body awareness and general wellbeing, Ms Forrest says there is great benefit for the mind if performing Pilates in an outdoor setting.
“There is a lot of research that has come out over the last few years which indicates huge benefits to emotional wellbeing by participating in low-impact exercise outdoors, ” she says. “Some of this research points to reduced rates of depression, reduced anxiety, increased productivity and alertness, as well as significantly reducing levels of stress.”
Emma Milner and Skaya Martino, co-founders of Twenty Four Seven Lifestyle Studio, turned to yoga after years of full-on exercise.
“As we implemented yoga and Pilates into our own personal routines many years ago, we recognised our bodies were getting the same, if not better, results from taking it easy. We couldn't believe it.
“Our bodies dealt with muscle stiffness and fatigue so much better once yoga was introduced.
“Also the stress relief we felt from yoga was amazing. You don't get the same feeling with strenuous exercise.”
Chilled exercise workouts are great for the mind and the body but, if you want to take that “chilled” feeling one step further, why not float your way to relaxation? Beyond Rest is a relaxation centre in Perth — where clients are suspended in an enclosed pod filled with Epsom salt solution. Co-founder Nick Dunin says the process helps reduce stress, relieve chronic pain and increase general wellbeing.
“The buoyancy created by the Epsom salt solution effectively removes the effects of gravity on the body, ” he explains. “The water and air within the pod are heated to skin-neutral temperature (35.5C) so once you’re floating, it is difficult to tell which parts of your body are in the water and which are not.
“The objective is to remove all outside stimuli so your internal senses heighten.”
Mr Dunin says floating helps reduce fatigue and increase energy. It is also thought to quicken rehabilitation and recovery for people overcoming injury.
© The West Australian
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