Regular exercise is one of the most powerful things you can do to stay healthy, have energy, relieve stress, and boost your mood. Our bodies are designed to move and breathe! As we age, our bodies can lose muscle mass, bone density, strength and aerobic capacity. Exercise has shown to directly impact these key biomarkers of aging.
Exercise doesn’t always mean extreme sports or putting on dense muscle. Exercise should be tailored to you and should be enjoyable! In general, Ayurveda recommends exercising up to one half of one’s ability. It should leave you feeling happy, invigorated, and ready for the rest of your day. It should not be overly exhausting or require processed stimulants. In fact, it is better for your body to do less intense exercise more often than extreme exercise a few times a week due to soreness. When you exercise to the point of exhaustion, you will often crave more food, walk less in your day, and are more likely to skip taking the stairs at work.
The fitness industry has pushed the idea that exercise is usually to change your physical appearance and that everyone should look a certain way. Exercise shouldn’t be a chore. It should be about feeling good and what works best for you.
The key is to find some form of activity that you enjoy from yoga, walking, running, biking, swimming, etc. It can be helpful to know your dosha (body constitution) to see what exercises might be best for you. If you’re unsure of your dosha, take our quiz on our website!
Vata individuals tend towards anxiety and spaciness, so a grounding practice can be enormously beneficial. Vatas tend to be naturally energetic with burst of energy. Yet, they can tire out easily. If they are out of balance, Vatas tend to push themselves really hard and get carried away with exercise. They can often feel dizzy, exhausted, or on the verge of cramping if out of balance.
As Vatas tend to be naturally thin with little muscle (in general), activities that build strength, balance, and mobility can be useful. Grounding exercises like walking, dancing, easy swimming, or yoga asana can be beneficial. Yoga asana that compress the pelvic region can be good to alleviate constipation.
In the winter, it is recommended to go for warming and grounding exercise that are indoors to protect against the harsh elements.
Pitta individuals tend to be intense and competitive with exercise and in life. They have a strong drive and tend to like challenging sports such as mountain climbing, skiing, bicycling, tennis, etc. Due to their competitive nature, Pitta individuals need to be careful not to increase stress or too much heat when exercising. If there is irritability, anger, rashes, or acne occurring, begin to slow down and practice more relaxing exercises. We recommend Pitta people to watch out for becoming too competitive or mean when playing sports. Activities in the heat of the day or in heated rooms should be avoided if out of balance.
Pitta people benefit from swimming and snow sports, as the water or air cools down the heat of Pitta and relieves accumulated tension. Walking is recommended for Pittas as they often become too goal oriented. When walking, take the time to go a slower pace and enjoy nature to calm down Pitta.
Kapha individuals can tend towards having a stronger and heavier physique. Due to this they have the most physical strength and endurance. They can excel at endurance sports such as running, bicycling, hiking, and other aerobics. It can be highly beneficial for them to get sweat as it can clear congestion and sluggishness.
The biggest challenge for Kapha individuals will be to find the motivation to exercise. If you are not consistently doing a physical activity daily, a great way to start is by briskly walking for 30 minutes. Set a time and an alarm to get going! As your body acclimates you will feel how the movement gives your more energy throughout the day. Once you have started daily exercise, you can slowly increase to other activities of your choice!
In short, finding the exercise that works for you and your body is what will yield the best benefits and make you feel the best!
Lad, Vasant. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998. Print. 60-61.