Is this really exercise?

GoldfishMany people who see chi exercise machines without trying them feel these devices are not actually giving any real form of exercise. The body is moving, but how could that motion be considered exercise when the user is making no effort and looks totally relaxed?

There is a well-known concept in the West which can be summed up in the saying ‘no pain, no gain’ - especially perhaps in societies where a strong ‘work ethic’ is thought to be central to maintaining a healthy body and mind.

Fortunately for us, our bodies do not work on the basis of abstract concepts. Surprising though it may seem, when we start to experience “goldfish exercise”, our bodies seem to recognise that exercise is taking place. We know this because breathing changes in quality quite significantly a few moments after the swinging of the feet starts. Deeper and better quality breathing from the abdomen starts to naturally happen, rather than the shallower thoracic breathing that can become "normal" for many people.

This is perhaps the most obvious sign that our body treats this movement as exercise, but there are other effects that correspond with what happens when we are exercising, particularly with what is known as ‘aerobic exercise’ – that is, exercise that involves or improves oxygen consumption by the body.

Unlike anaerobic exercise, such as strength training and weight training, aerobic exercise does not involve intense exertion, and in fact is a far more efficient process of generating energy. More details on the definition of aerobic exercise can be found in Wikipedia, which also says this about it: Is this really Exercise?

Among the recognized benefits of doing regular aerobic exercise are:

  • Strengthening the muscles involved in respiration, to facilitate the flow of air in and out of the lungs
  • Strengthening and enlarging the heart muscle, to improve its pumping efficiency and reduce the resting heart rate, known as aerobic conditioning
  • Toning muscles throughout the body
  • Improving circulation efficiency and reducing blood pressure
  • Increasing the total number of red blood cells in the body, facilitating transport of oxygen
  • Improved mental health, including reducing stress and lowering the incidence of depression

For more details on the potential health benefits of chi exercise machines, please click here.