Learning & Resource Center Articles
Exercises for Longevity
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM
As we grow older not only do we cultivate wisdom through experience, we also run a greater risk of disease and disability. According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, signs of aging arise largely due to the decline of kidney yin. Kidney yin is the foundation for all yin in the body which, in turn, supplies the material foundation for vital substances such as blood, marrow, saliva and other fluids. This loss of nourishment helps explain why as we grow older bones become brittle, joints start to ache and skin loses moisture. Aging is inevitable, but suffering poor health as a result is not. From the moment one wakes up until bedtime, acupuncture and Oriental medicine offers a variety of safe, easy to perform exercises to help promote longevity.
Exercise for Improving Longevity
Before getting out of bed, warm your hands by rubbing them together and then gently massage your ears. Pinch the earlobes and continue up to the ear apex, then back down again. Press the tragus (the prominence in front of the external opening of the ear) for a few seconds, then release. The ear is a microcosm of the whole body, so when you massage your ears, you effectively massage your whole body. The kidneys relate directly to the ears, so keeping your ears supple and toned with this exercise helps your kidneys stay supple and toned as well. Interestingly, large ears signify a constitutionally healthy individual with large reserves of energy for healing and longevity. In regard to healing and longevity, the bigger the ears, the better.
Morning Is Ideal for Moderate Exercise
The morning is a wonderful time for exercise as the rising sun represents the start of the yang portion of the day. Yang is an expression of the masculine principle manifesting in phenomena such as the sun, heat and daytime. It is an active, moving force. Take advantage of the morning hours for some light to moderate exercising. Dr. He Jinsen of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends walking backwards as a means to aid the kidneys and soothe the back muscles. Dr. Jinsen explains that elderly people have weaker muscles and this exercise can strengthen different muscles compared with walking forward.
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Approaches to Stimulating Exercises
For something a little more stimulating, Dr. Jinsen recommends shouting and clapping. The hands, like the ears and feet, contain many nerve endings and acupuncture points, and encapsulate a micro system for treating the whole person. Clapping will activate the points on the hands. Shouting benefits the lungs by stimulating the chest, especially a shout originating from the diaphragm. If shouting doesn't appeal, singing will also activate the lungs to help draw in fuller, deeper breaths.
Evening Is Ideal for Quiet, Reflective Exercises
As the day moves on the vibrant yang energy transforms into the yin of night. Yin energy is feminine in nature and represented by night time, cold, and the moon. This is an opportune time to massage a set of acupuncture points found at the center of the eyebrows, right above the bridge of the nose. You can use your thumb and forefinger of one hand to rub the points called Urinary Bladder 2. Activating these points soothes red, itchy, watery or tired feeling eyes. This also provides you with a few minutes for self-reflection which is a quiet, yin activity.
Because the signs of aging present differently in each person, acupuncture and Oriental medicine offers a variety of treatments and lifestyle suggestions to help all people thrive in their old age. In acupuncture and Oriental medicine, longevity is not just a reference to surviving old age, but a dynamic principle indicating one who is still joyful, creative and healthy.
Source: Calderon, Justin (2011) 10 TCM moves to help you live forever. CNN Travel. Retrieved from http://travel.cnn.com/shanghai/play/10-tcm-moves-help-you-live-forever-346613
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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.