anxiety, training and play2009 11 19
I recently read a New York Times report on (Phys Ed: Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS). While interesting, the article supports what has already been studied elsewhere in other areas including Positive Psychology or the study of Flow. We are just beginning to understand the relationship between physical health and emotional well-being in many respects. So, while I understand the need for simplification in studies to produce solid data and exploring new areas of science, I am convinced that it is essential for you and I proactively try to do our own “hypothetical research” in order to find what makes us less stressed out and anxious. Specifically, I’m interested in ways to design and implement creative solutions for reducing and controlling the inevitable anxiety and stress we encounter in life. Moreover, I would go one step further and suggest that you look to other areas of scientific study specifically the areas of:
- Positive Psychology; the study of optimal experience / flow
- Expert Performance
- Intelligent Training (i.e. functional training: training focused on improving how you move.)
In the early 1990’s, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, released a book titled Flow based upon his studies of over two decades. In this profound and thoughtful work, the ideas and basis for much of what will become the positive psychology field are revealed and examined. And even though many other popular titles have since been made available, I believe that Flow is still the most revolutionary and provocative. Perhaps the most important questions that this book discusses is: “What are the inner experiences that make life worthwhile?”
Since then you can find numerous titles that share more specific insights and methods to create the proper environment in your life for optimal experience to thrive. One such title is: The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. Starting on page 244., she describes in great detail how to take care of your body and why physical activity makes people happier. In the one of the most revealing and important parts to this chapter she describes how each person must customize and select what makes them feel best. Simply running or engaging in aerobic exercise for some is not enough. In fact some people feel worse doing this.
The implications for this are profoundly more important than suggested here. While it’s great to find scientists suggesting we all should exercise more to improve our happiness, what they seem to fail at is taking it to the next level.
Positive Psychologist and other scientists should leave the “how to exercise” in the hands of people who know how to help people functioning optimally and ultimately with you. What is right for you based upon what brings a sense of play, joy and challenge may be significantly different from others. Moreover, research has shown that generic exercise prescription is less effective than customized and personalized programming. Specifically, any exercise prescription needs to address variations from individual to individual in all both aerobic vs anaerobic systems as well as kinesthetic skills (I include proprioception in my definition of kinesthesia here for a more detailed debate about the differences between these two terms look here: Proprioception vs. kinesthesia.
What should be apparent is that simply moving more but not in a thoughtful or intelligent way is not ideal. Given the demands of modern life and the complex decisions you are asked to make every day, you need better information and advice on how to move better that is connected to who you are, what you love and ultimately gives you the best that science can offer. If I had an objective for this blog I can honestly say it would be fulfill this mission for you:
to be your source for information on fitness, play and improving your experiences using the best science available.
A short note on the idea behind this blog
I hope you find the material authentic and transparent in purpose. I am committed to teaching and not simply marketing. I am also very dedicated and passionate and open to new ideas. I continually search for information, ideas and methods enable us to make better decisions and create positive experiences. While I am a firm believer in the idea that you learn more from mistakes, I don’t believe that we all have to make the same ones but rather can learn from others.
This is why I started writing a blog in the first place and my intention is to live up to this ideal:
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