October 17, 2012 by Zee
Building a wellness community accomplishes two goals, it builds wellness; and it builds community.
Many people have tried to tackle chronic health problems and manage preventative care on their own, oftentimes unsuccessfully.
Exercise; the repetitive motion of action creates a rhythm inside you. The pumping of blood the circulation of oxygen and life energy; the warmth, stretch and toning of the muscles that feels good (if not overdone) before it even looks good; the deep satisfaction that comes only when a body breaks a sweat…
As tantalizing as it sounds many of us view this as a luxury out of reach.
No matter how much we need exercise, a time to ourselves that not only improves the physical, but allows meditation, contemplation, thought, planning for life; it provides small successes and discipline that embolden motivation, it relieves physical stress; and by pushing the body to its comfortable limits, prepares the body to deal with increased physical demands of strength and energy. It produces the deepest, most restful sleep (when times properly) and can build up immunity.
Still knowing all this, few people I know can find the time, discipline, or motivation to engage in around an hour of ‘moderate physical activity’ at least every other day.
Interestingly enough, most people DO find time daily to engage with friends on facebook, chatting on the phone, or meeting up for drinks/lunch/playdates.
It could make a positive long term change on health if people exercised communally, like our primitive forefathers did.
Group exercise probably started as a more sophisticated form of hunting. Then tradition of group physical activity continues to aid in the survival of both aboriginal groups and migratory peoples.
Exercise in groups allows the benefits to physical activity to become a secondary positive, which is inline with the human tradition.
Even in the animal kingdom physical prowess (or lack thereof) established important roles for individuals within the group.
The strongest, or most flexible, or fastest were preferred as leaders, and decision makers; the group, or a designee from the group provided more protection and encouragement for the weaker or more inept group members.
Group exercise, just like organized sports today allows individuals another was to express themselves, connect with other humans to form intimate and trusting relationships on and off the field/court/pit/rink. Group exercise can function as a support group much more effectively than therapy alone if some time is devoted to inner exploration, mental blockages and the sharing of responsibility for success.
A few simple ways of connecting people for this purpose would be community walks for (for charity, for community awareness), mass exercise events (dance offs, yoga, tai chi), or goal workouts for charity.
Outdoor exercise meetups and groups would be a great way to reach out to smaller groups of people.
There could be modified workouts offered such as for seniors, the pregnant, weight loss focused, or those that utilize accessible outdoor materials only such as playground equipment or even trees.
Local sports teams could be promoted and publicized more to raise participation and funds for extending program offerings.
The benefits of traditionally social activity that includes physical exercise should be played up as well. There is plenty of heart pumping that can happen from mall crawling, or bargain-shopping; just strap on a pedometer if you doubt your abilities! Going swimming, roller skating, dancing, hiking, gossip-walking, lunch break gym meetups, makes exercise so much more fun to anticipate and participate.
Local gyms might even market training sessions, gym passes, or discount classes to self-formed groups for a fun girls-night or guys-night activity.
It could be a great story to share for even more years (by being healthier) about how you went indoor rock climbing for the first time, with a bunch of your classmates just for fun;
or how the moms in your school all took the kids out to churn butter, crank ice cream, and press apples at an autumn festival.
This is what I mean by building a wellness community!