What Are Mind Body Exercises?

Do you remember Jane Fonda in the 80s or Step Aerobics in the 90s? It’s interesting to reflect on how things evolve and change in life and the fitness industry is no different. As a society we’ve spent years sculpting muscles, gaining strength, and building our cardiovascular system all in the hopes of looking and feeling healthy. The body and mind were viewed as separate and distinct with the body being treated like a machine with replaceable parts. However, in most recently years research as shown that there is a connection between how we feel in our bodies and the way we feel about ourselves. Integrative psychiatrist James Lake, MD, of Stanford University, writes that "extensive research has confirmed the medical and mental benefits of meditation, mindfulness training, yoga, and other mind-body practices."

There’s nothing new about exercise being used as a tool to relieve stress. Without going into too much science when we exercise the hormones endorphins and serotonin are released giving us that happy and exhilarating feeling that we can conquer the world. Well mind-body exercises do the same thing with an intention of using your thoughts to influence your body’s physical response to stress.

Mind-body exercises are not new. Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong and other movement modalities have been around for centuries however, our focus as a society has changed. With increased levels of stress in our lives the need for need for something beyond the physical has propelled mind-body exercises to the forefront in the fitness industry. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, more than 18 million Americans practice yoga and/or Tai Chi, while some 10.5 million Americans perform Pilates.

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