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A Chinese Perspective?

September 23rd, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

To get healthy, or at least in shape, a lot of us run and lift weights. This seems to make sense, based on a few paradigms: 1) you use it or lose it, 2) an active life is more natural than a sedentary life, and 3) the body adapts when stressed physically, making itself stronger.

I can definitely buy into this in terms of bringing one’s physical activity up to a healthy level. For example, a computer programmer might have to do some weights to bring himself up to the level of a construction worker or farmhand or Tom Hanks after some time on a desert island. I just don’t assume that marathon running and extreme bodybuilding, by themselves, lead to high degree of health. That sort of stuff seems to be unbalanced to me, especially the bodybuilding. Why curl 100 pounds? So you can … curl 100 pounds? Sure, do some resistance training to increase circulation, burn fat, gain energy, and so on … but once it starts to only serve itself, I think it’s time to take a more balanced approach. To my mind, such an approach would include more flexibility training along with compound movements like lunges and push-ups. I like those because they seem to simulate real-life activities and use more muscles naturally.

But it seems the Chinese (to make a vast generalization) take it a step farther. According to sources including Wong Kiew Kit’s Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan, they believe that running and lifting weights to get healthy is a backwards approach. They see those activities as the results of good health, not the causes. They believe that you should get healthy first, through breathing, eating, qigong and meditation. Those activities would then allow you to run and lift weights when the situation called for it…. which, if we think about it, makes sense. If we adopted this approach, we could increase our level of fitness so we could rise to the occasion when we need to run somewhere, help with lifting, or just approach the energy needs of the day with pleasure, not dread.

I wonder what they think of exercising to lose weight? To burn off fat that wasn’t a good idea to ingest in the first place?

What do you think?

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