Self-Care: An Act of Kindness

Most of us would agree that a little more kindness in our world is always much appreciated. Unfortunately, too many of us spend our days rushing around doing too many things while feeling frantic and overworked. This leaves little time to be kind to ourselves. Self-care is an important act of kindness that not only helps us to feel better, but it can help us age well, too.

The following self-care activities not only help you feel good emotionally, but also physically.

Foam Rolling
The foam roller is a wonderful tool which helps you to manipulate the body’s soft tissues which has a potential positive effect on the fascial system, the musculotendinous system, and the circulatory system.

Tips for using a foam roller:

  • I typically recommend one to three minutes of body weight rolling (if it is tolerated) per extremity, and the same for the thoracic, low back, and buttock area.
  • A good rule of thumb is to roll out an area that is tender and sore (or recently worked) until it no longer feels tight and sore.
  • Again, approximately one to three minutes per area although this may vary based on your size. Increased time will be needed the more developed your muscles are.
  • Use the foam roll on tight or restricted areas prior to performance without risk of deleterious effects (unlike static stretching).
  • Use the foam roll after exercise or competition to speed up recovery times and decrease the risk of muscle soreness or restriction.
  • The foam roller can also be used as an aid to increase the intensity of a stretch during static stretching activities.

Daily Walks
Walking is a wonderful method of exercise. A walking routine can help you to manage critical components of successful aging including: physical health; mental health; emotional health; community; and finances (particularly, if leading a healthy lifestyle helps you to avoid the ever growing costs of health care).

Benefits of daily walks include:

  • Lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
  • Lowers your risk of cancer, including breast cancer.
  • Improves circulation and blood flow to the entire body.
  • Releases stress reducing hormones.
  • Releases hormones that can control blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours. This helps to reduce your risk of diabetes while keeping your energy levels stable throughout the day.
  • Keeps your mind sharp and reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Boosts your immune system.
  • Improves sleep quality.
  • Reduces pain levels.
  • Helps to manage arthritis symptoms.
  • Burns calories.
  • Helps to prevent constipation.
  • Walking in a fasted state can help your body to learn how to utilize fat more efficiently as an energy source.
  • It is a weight bearing activity that can be beneficial in reducing osteoporosis.
  • Keeps the spine healthy. The walking motion is vital to nutrient exchange in the spinal discs.

Typical guidelines suggest walking for 30 minutes per day, five or more times per week. The recommended 30 minutes per day doesn’t need to be performed all at once. I highly encourage you to walk more than 30 minutes–just in shorter sessions throughout the day. When formulating a walking plan, look for ways to add a short distance here and there. Take the time to stop and smell the roses.

Yoga
Yoga is a wonderful form of exercise that can challenge your body and your mind that leaves you feeling alert and rejuvenated. There are many different forms and styles of yoga.  Find one that best suits your personality and skill level. I am a big fan of yoga as it promotes a healthy body and mind. You will get best results through regular practice.

Benefits of regular yoga practice include:

  • Improved breathing patterns (leading to better tissue oxygenation).
  • Improved strength.
  • Improved balance.
  • Improved flexibility.
  • It helps you to manage stress which can promote improved cardiac health, sleep, and generally a better mood.
  • It’s an excellent way to stay in community with others.

As Amelia Earhart said, “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”

As you throw your roots into this world, don’t forget to also care for your own!

Written by: Ben Shatto

Editor’s Note:  This article was written by Ben Shatto, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS. Ben is a physical therapist and Administrator for Signature Healthcare – home of House Calls, Home Health, Palliative and Hospice Care as well as the founder and editor of the website www.thePhysicalTherapyAdvisor.com. His website is dedicated to help proactive adults of all ages to understand how to safely self-treat and manage common musculoskeletal, neurological, and mobility related conditions in a timely manner so they can reach their optimal health.