Feel like getting fit and relieving the stress of going back to work after Christmas? The ‘relax’ guru, says you should stay in bed.
What are you stressed about? Balancing your work and social life, with fitting in enough sleep, maintaining friendships, climbing the career ladder, going to the gym and getting your five a day. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. Everyone says it’s important to relax, but how do you do that in a natural way rather than resorting to wine or beer? Especially as your New Year Resolution involves a dry January.
You could of course read a book, listen to music or take a walk. But let’s face it, during the week, that’s not going to happen. How about trying something put forward by American physician Edmund Jacobson in his 1929 book called Progressive Relaxation? In it he outlined the process of reducing muscle tension and how this could have extremely positive psychological benefits.
His publication advised the repeated action of tightening and loosening muscles for about an hour a day. Apparently, this allows you to become aware of any tension and help you to eradicate it quickly.
The Godfather of the term ‘relax’ likened the human body to a car, which needs to be run and maintained properly. Jacobson considered these exercises to be more important than sleep, and urged his followers to sacrifice an hour longer in bed in order to practice this religiously. So yes, the message is, don’t get up early to go to the gym, stay in bed for that hour snuggled up and follow his muscle tightening and loosening regime. Well, it cuts down on the washing of gym gear.
In his experiments, he measured muscle activity, heart and sweat rates using an integrating neurovoltmeter, all of which showed positive results. I suppose this was a precursor to the health and fitness apps of today. Yoga and Tai Chi are based on his form of relaxation and both are still popular and growing in influence.
So remember, if you think you should be going to the gym in the morning – when you want to go to it, relax, don’t do it - stay in bed and wiggle some muscles instead.