Years ago a very good friend of mine, a martial arts master, explained that “…doing T’ai Ch’i is like charging a battery with energy.”  At the time I did not understand that comment.

It was only after I had a severe cold-flu that lasted several weeks, that left me weak and totally demotivated, that it dawned on me what his comment meant. I equate his comment to the wisdom of Machiavelli, “In times of peace, prepare for times of war”.  Applied to the martial arts master’s comment, above, it would be adapted as follows: “When you are healthy, exercise and eat right, to prepare for times when you may become ill”.  And that makes so much sense. However, the martial arts master’s comment goes one better.

What he was teaching me was that by exercising, by doing T’ai Ch’i for instance, with every movement, every deep breath, you are BUILDING THE BODY’S RESERVES of both strength and energy, much like recharging a Lithium-Ion battery.

Mind you, the recharging experience is not as quick or as dramatic as actually plugging a Li-ion into a recharger.  Instead, the body works in tiny increments, think, cell by cell adaptation. So, when healthy, you need to be persistent, consistent, insistent, and vigilant with your exercise and anything that can support or degrade your health. Remind yourself that when healthy, you are charging your battery for those days when you may not feel healthy.

Anyone familiar with exercising will admit that when one is in a healthy state, it’s easy, it’s a no-brainer to walk, lift weights, do T’ai Ch’i, Yoga, and to adhere to a healthy diet. But when depression strikes, or a cold or flu takes you down for days or weeks at a time, granted, no one feels like bouncing out of bed or leaping off a couch to work out. Yet, that is the very point of this Nugget.

The reason for this Nugget is to encourage you to apply this concept of exercising DURING YOUR ILLNESS when you feel slightly better. Don’t do anything strenuous when ill. But do, do some light exercises and especially deep breathing when you have short periods, hours or days, when you do feel better. The reason you may not want to exercise vigorously when you feel better during periods of illness is that the body does need to manage its own recovery as best as nature has designed your particular body to do so, on its own and of its own merits. If that all makes any sense to you?  But during that healing/recovery period, which can last from a few days to many years for the more serious illnesses, you will find your energy, spirit, motivation, which we will categorize under “energy”, will have a roller-coaster ride. Your “energy” will go up somewhat, then will crash. And your body will slowly be recovering trying to pick itself off the floor to which your body crashes.  It is during those “up” days that I encourage you to do some light exercise and lots of deep breathing, the very concepts behind the movements of exercises like T’ai Ch’i. By doing so you may be able to help your recovery, help your body to raise the low points much like an elevator slowly rising. Your lowest lows will get a bit higher following each cycle until your recovery is complete…Of course, barring any major illness from which recovery is not possible.

I’ve mentioned about breathing deeply.

Much is made of the concept of breathing in through the nose, and exhaling through the mouth. And, for advocates of the eastern philosophy,  of visualizing “electricity” from the air travelling into your nose, down along your spine, across to your groin, up past your belly button and out through your mouth. Those details are great stuff, if you want to become a guru and strive to levitate. However, it is the oxygen that feeds the body. So,  worry less about the mechanics of deep breathing and just inhale to fill your lungs full enough to make your belly button peak over the elastic band of your underwear or panties, and exhale slowly enough to let your lungs thoroughly exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen. Do this sitting down in case you get lightheaded and dizzy.

Light exercise and deep breathing, done together or separately, may speed up your recovery. So, on your up days, do some exercise. Especially on your up days, do plenty of deep breathing. But also on your down days, try to convince yourself that doing deep breathing, when you can manage to do so, will also help to speed your recovery.

Let me reinforce this: breathing and strengthening, exercises need not be intensive when done during your recovery. Stay within a comfort zone. The point is, with each round of light exercise and deep breathing, you make the body store a bit more strength during your up days that may serve you well during your down days.

May you remain strong and healthy.

[WARNING: this Nugget is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a recommendation for you. Be sure to check with your doctor who is trained to diagnose and prescribe therapies and medications before making any changes to your exercise programs, diet, or medications/supplements.]