According to Wikipedia, this motto gained its popularity among exercise practitioners in 1982 when Jane Fonda produced a series of aerobic workout videos. Today, three decades later, many athletes, fitness experts and workout fanatics still believe that exercise is not beneficial unless some pain is experienced. There is no denying that exercise and physical activity are necessary for good health. Our bodies were designed to move, and we have muscles, ligaments and tendons that make all kinds of movements possible. They must also be strong and maintain cardiovascular fitness to withstand all the rigors of our everyday lives. But does that mean we should subject them to pain in order to achieve this? Whereas jogging, high-impact aerobics, and working out a sweat at the gym can undoubtedly produce health benefits over the short term, long term is another matter. Any so called high-impact exercise over time can cause damage to joints and internal organs and ultimately injure the heart instead of strengthening it. Some medical experts state that ongoing strenuous exercise will shorten life rather than lengthen it. According to Oriental Medicine, anything that is done in excess can cause harm. The ancient Chinese, who were interested in longevity, realized that the best way to gain and maintain long term health is through gentle exercise which encourages qi to move and nourish the body. Thus, qigong and taijiquan were developed. Being gentler on our body and suitable for all ages, these exercises provide the necessary movement we need, improve flexibility and strength and build aerobic capacity. When they are performed quickly, or in a lower stance, they will provide many of the same benefits on the cardiovascular system as high impact exercises and gym workouts. In addition, qigong and taiji have a beneficial effect on all other bodily systems, making them an excellent all round physical and mental exercise – – without stress, without strain, and most definitely without pain.
The Spring months are a great time to start a new exercise routine, so, if you haven’t already done so, why not give qigong and taiji a try.
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