How to upgrade your workout routine to a wellness routine

by Melissa Schleicher-Park | Oct 01, 2019

We accept that many things need the occasional break. We reboot out computers, we rotate tires, we take small children to quiet spots when they’re over stimulated, we rotate crops to give soil a break. We do this because we know that it’s better to provide these breaks than to wait until the computer collapses, the tires blow, the child has a meltdown from over stimulation, or we deplete the soil beyond usability.  And yet, we often insist that our bodies and minds go, go, go until they collapse.
Building up an exercise habit is a big deal! And it is not easy. Maintaining it is even harder. Sometimes we fear taking breaks because we fear falling off the wagon. Sometimes the idea that rest days can actually be more beneficial than doing another workout, just doesn’t compute. But our bodies heal on the off-days. Muscle is built when we’re not working out in response to our workouts. Strength training, for example, actually causes micro-tears in muscle tissue. Strength and muscle mass are increased as the body repairs those muscle tears. But, if the body isn’t given enough rest to repair and rebuild in response to exercise, then progress eventually plateaus.

The mind works much the same way. We consider ourselves modern-day warriors when we can go non-stop around the clock, switching from work responsibilities to home responsibilities to social and societal and everything in between. We pride ourselves for balancing more things than we can count. Muscling through the exhaustion and the overwhelm is a badge of honor. Even when we’re near collapse, at best we give ourselves only enough of a break to catch our breath before returning to full-speed. Our minds were not made to work this way.

Consider how many built-in breaks the mind got even a couple decades ago. Waiting in line at the grocery store or in a waiting room was simple that – waiting. It wasn’t a time to catch up on emails or the idealized portrayals of lives on social media. Long commutes meant listening to whatever was on a few select radio stations rather than catching up on a plethora of podcasts or 24-hour news stations. There wasn’t an endless list of TV series to keep up with. Now, we just don’t have built-in mental breaks because we’re always plugged in. Now, we have to be more intentional about giving ourselves mental breaks, times when we’re not trying to do anything, or when we are intentionally simply relaxing, without stimulation.

I’ve always admired how Galter LifeCenter really has a robust amount of offerings for both sides of this coin – body and mind rejuvenation. In regards to giving the physical body rest, to not step even near the gym on a rest day is totally, 100% permissible. But, if you just can’t tear yourself away from this place for even a day (because, let’s be honest – we don’t come here just to workout!), then come for one of the many self-care tools available to you. Amenities like the sauna, steam room, and Jacuzzi can be great for body/mind rejuvenation. Coming in to simply stretch or foam roll are also great option. Practices like yoga and Tai Chi have been used for centuries to balance the body and mind. Socializing while taking part in non-strenuous activity, like light walking, is great relief as well.

Of course, some of my personal favorites are massage, acupuncture and watsu. These services offer personalized, in-depth mind/body rejuvenation. Our skilled massage therapists, acupuncturists, and watsu therapists are able to tailor sessions to your specific concerns. Their years of experience and knowledge also enable them to quite often know what your body needs even if you’re not so sure. They can focus on total mind/body rejuvenation, leaving you feeling mentally and physically energized. Regular bodywork has even been shown to increase exercise performance. By stimulating the production of pain-relieving hormones, decreasing stress hormones, increasing circulation, decreasing inflammation, and more, Integrative Therapies encourage your body to use its naturally healing abilities to facilitate healing from the inside out.

For deep mental rejuvenation, consider trying the Mindfulness Meditation Initiative. Mindfulness meditation causes structural and functional changes in the brain so that you stress out less, and it enables you to unplug from that habitual tendency to go, go, go. The amygdala is a small structure in the brain that is the primary source of our stress response. In our over-stimulated society, this stress response is triggered much more than it was evolutionarily designed to be. Regular mindfulness meditation actual shrinks the size of the amygdala and decreases its reactivity. Simply by decreasing this stress response, the mind and body are given more space to relax and to heal: inflammation is decreased, immune response is increased, pain lessens, memory increases, and sleep improves.  

Our minds and our bodies are just like anything else in life – they function better and longer when given the opportunity to rest regularly. Taking time out for self-care is not slacking off on your exercise regimen or on your life responsibilities. It is an essential component for optimal health and well-being. When we give our minds and bodies time to rest and recover, we’re stronger, we have more endurance, we’re more creative, and more efficient. Self-care, rest, and recovery are most beneficial when practiced proactively rather than practiced only when our bodies force us to shut down due to illness or injury.

Try it out for yourself. Commit to prioritizing self-care for the next month. Self-care is not one-size-fits-all, so practice whatever components resonate with you. Try out new things. If you’re not sure how to start, talk to any one of our personal trainers, fitness instructors, or integrative therapists. Galter LifeCenter offers a wealth of services for mind, body, and soul. Don’t just have a workout routine. Have a full, mind/body wellness routine.

"Stephanie is a very skilled, knowledgeable massage therapist. She is very accommodating to my personal needs. Her pleasant and gentle demeanor put me at ease. I would definitely recommend her to my family members and friends. " - Fruma