Exercise for Health and Connection – from an Exercise Physiologist

by Dr Danielle Loveless, BBiomedSci, BExSci (Hons), PhD Ex Phys,
Accredited Exercise Physiologist

I have been working from the Universal Medicine clinic in the field of Exercise Physiology for the last 3-4 years. I am fully accredited and registered in the health care system and the majority of my work is in chronic disease and injury rehabilitation and exercise program support. In my time working from the clinic I have also been participating in Universal Medicine courses and workshops and embracing my own esoteric healing. Through the inspiration of Serge Benhayon I have begun to discover a way to exercise and work with my clients that is more supportive, nurturing and honouring for our bodies. This way has been developed from within myself, chosen by me, not taught or instructed by another, but completely inspired by a more gentle and loving way of living that I have begun to discover through Universal Medicine.

Working in the health and fitness industry in gyms, sports centres and at the local hospital’s rehabilitation department, I often see people go hard at it and ‘smash’ themselves in their exercise training. This way of training is encouraged by many fitness trainers, but appears much more harmful than beneficial to their body. I will often see a lot of injuries, people experiencing niggling pain in their back, hips, knees or shoulders and lacking the energy and motivation to continue with a program. Exercising at high intensities in any activity or sport, including any competitive sport that pushes the body to near maximum, puts a huge force through the body. Maybe the body can handle exercising at such an intensity now, but what about the physiological load that is placed on the body and the long-term damage? Did you know that running results in up to 5 times the body weight of the runner through their lower back, hips, knees and ankles? For someone who weighs 80kg this is 400kg per foot strike, which for a 1.6km run (approximately 400 steps) is approximately 160,000 kg or almost 180 tons for that one run. Perhaps this explains why when running a marathon, a runner’s height will reduce by approximately 1cm for   24 to 48 hours after the race!

In contrast to this hard pushing exercise, I have discovered that exercise can be done in a gentle way that is connected with the body. This means that the way the body moves in a workout is guided by how the body feels in each exercise and movement. Exercising in such a way regulates the intensity of the workout according to our ability to hold a gentle breathing rhythm, and to not go tense or hard anywhere in the body. The traditional way of exercising is based on sets and repetitions of movements of a particular number or duration. However, when exercising gently, the pace, intensity, duration or number of repetitions completed is determined according to what the body is telling us in that moment. By listening to the body we can feel when we have over-exerted or pushed it too hard and we can feel when to stop.

Exercising gently and connected with our body is very unlike any way I have ever considered exercising could be. It is nothing like what I was taught during 10 years of university in Biomedical and Exercise Science, but instead much more gentle, nurturing and caring towards the body. My surprise is that the benefits are far greater than I could have ever  imagined.  There are noticeable increases in strength and cardiovascular fitness and, as no excessive or unnecessary strain is placed on the body, there are no niggling pains or aggravations of other conditions or old injuries. Furthermore, I have found that there is a renewed daily vitality, instead of the exhaustion that often comes with exercise. There can be a sense of an increase in energy levels from exercise, but this is false and only occurs due to an immediate increase in adrenaline, which only lasts a short period before sugar, caffeine or some other stimulant is needed to pick the body up again.

What has recently been published by the media and online blogs about Serge Benhayon ‘exerting control over Universal Medicine students by modifying their exercise behaviour, or discouraging exercise altogether’ is completely untrue. My exercise work with the Universal Medicine clinic is supported in full by Serge Benhayon. Serge has inspired not only me, but many others to be more caring and supportive with their bodies such that we choose to exercise in a much more gentle way. I thank Serge deeply for suggesting that there may be another way to be with our body that is much more loving and supportive.

Attached you will find some testimonials from a very broad range of people who have participated in Gentle Exercise Training with me in either private sessions or exercise groups.

Testimonials 

Since my first group session with Danielle three weeks ago I have found I’m self motivated to exercise gently every morning around 5am. I have found many benefits including a more truer relationship with me, more energy throughout the day, less tension being held within my body and any tension I may have is easily released while I exercise and connect with my gentle breath. I would recommend group work with Danielle to anyone who wants to truly connect with their bodies and to know more and to live more of who they truly are. Gentle exercise is the bridge to that place within.

Paul Barry, NSW

Danielle’s gentle movement and exercise sessions have been an integral part of my daily ritual for the last 3 years. They have enabled me to re-build my body’s suppleness to a point I never would have expected possible, considering all the accumulated sports and martial arts injuries from my earlier life.

It’s not just the physical aspect that I have found supportive. Danielle presents a new awareness of movement that has helped to re-configure  the way I move in general, to ‘be with myself’ as I do the exercises every day. What I particularly enjoy is the subtlety of the exercises, and how I can learn so much with such seemingly simple movements.

With pleasure I can fully recommend Danielle’s  group and private sessions and often refer my clients to her.

Chris James – Singer, Musician & Voice Teacher

Exercising gently was something I thought would never suit my liking until I started attending Danielle’s individual sessions and classes. I was amazed just to feel how hard I was being with my body. Danielle has shown us how to connect with our bodies and use our body as a guide through gentle exercise and breathing, feeling where we are holding tension or hardness and releasing any tightness around the body through stretching. I was amazed at how much better I felt after just a few sessions and now have a greater understanding of how my body is feeling. With Danielle’s love and support i can highly recommend a visit, you won’t be disappointed.

Kim, NSW, Australia

Danielle’s classes completely changed the way I approach exercise, she brings a love and dedication that is truly inspiring. I recommend her classes to anyone who wants to make exercise about connecting to your body and letting your body be the guide, rather than pushing your body into an unnatural rhythm.

RB, NSW, Australia

I attended Danielle’s gentle exercise workshop in November. The workshop was fun and playful and I learnt a lot about my body. Since then, I have been enjoying a playful loving relationship with my body. Exercise is no longer a stress, a strain or a chore, but a loving exploration of my body and how it moves and where it needs to strengthen, stretch and release. Stretching is no longer painful, but a gentle release of tension in my body, as I breathe. Being with myself as I exercise gently has brought me greater levels of energy, so that I am no longer tired at the end of my work day. I have a greater awareness of my body, so that I no longer hold so much tension and hardness in it. I can wholeheartedly recommend working with Danielle.

Dr Anne Malatt, Bangalow, Australia

I used to love exercise, team sports, running long distances, marathons, all the high intensity classes at the gym.  I had great fitness levels, I was in great shape, but I felt so despondent and tired. I cut back till I did very little. I had a one to one session with Danielle a couple of years after this and, very patiently, Danielle supported me as I found my way to exercise so that I worked hard but did not overwhelm my body. I could see that my body had been trying to get me to slow down or at least listen all those years, so to rebuild my routine in a supportive way has taken a little time and is an ongoing process. My body feels like it has been asleep for lifetimes and feeling it come alive is inspirational.

Lucy, NSW, Australia

I recently attended a 6 week course in Body Awareness & Quality in Daily Movement & Exercise Group in Grafton. This has been a wonderful experience for me in terms of re-connecting to how amazing & important it is to have a regular exercise routine. Prior to doing this course I did no regular exercise. I work in nursing, so I have a job that is quite physical. I thought that was enough. I thought because I walk up & down stairs numerous times during the day that that would suffice. I was however feeling all sorts of muscular aches and pains as well as joints that crack. Deep down what I really knew my body was telling me was that I need to move and exercise. I was never taken with the ideas of gyms and other types of classes. I really did want something that would suit me.

Danielle’s classes for me was such a perfect place to begin. We start gently. We are encouraged to feel where our bodies are at when we do different exercises and not to push past any pain but to respect that. Danielle is very aware of individual needs in the group and always makes other recommendations or more gentle variations to any exercise we are doing.

I had so much fun, mostly because my body is thanking me for finally paying attention. But also Danielle genuinely loves her work and delivers her classes in a very joy-full way. How can you not feel inspired?

I continue with a program for me based on the exercises I did with Danielle. I now make time for myself to do this as I know how amazing I feel when I exercise. I feel fitter at work. Really, to work in nursing you need to have a good level of fitness and we are kidding ourselves if we think and do otherwise.

I feel inspired by Danielle and her work, but really it’s been up to me to choose this for me. I’m so glad that I have.

Thank you Danielle.

Jen Smith, Aus

I have spent most of my life largely unaware of my body, dragging it along to anything I wanted to do.

I started to feel weak, stiff wooden and old.

From just one individual session and several classes,  I now do the exercises most days. I am much more aware of my body and by listening to it and taking care of it I have more strength, endurance and vitality.

At work welding used to be about what is going on in the weld zone, and everything else was subornate to that. At the expense of my body and so I would fatigue quickly.

Now welding is all about posture and I can focus on the weld zone but still be aware of my whole body; things run smoother, and I am more productive.

If I can do that, what else can I do?

Thank you Danielle, I get a lot more out of life now.

Bernie Cincotta, Aus

177 thoughts on “Exercise for Health and Connection – from an Exercise Physiologist

  1. I’m imagining the kind of health problems a body would incur from running a marathon, or from regularly running through out their life?
    The potential cost to the NHS would be interesting to know, thinking hip replacements, knee replacements, arthritis?
    What we do to our bodies is crazy hey!

  2. Thank you Danielle for leading the way with gentle exercise. I have been involved in the fitness industry most of my life and gone to gyms. I see how hard bodies become, not in a good way but out of balance and it does not surprise me how much injury comes from that forceful style of exercise. On the other hand, gentle exercise that Danielle prescribes is so respectful of the body, is fun to do and makes you feel great with no soreness later. It is amazing how gentleness can feel strong in your body. Once you have experienced this, there really is no going back to the old way of exercising.

  3. I also thought that to be fit you had to do more that you would usually do to get fit. Like really pushing your body to the point it can’t go anymore. I would always feel good after it and the bit about adrenaline really explains that because it would never last very long. Now with the support of Danielle I am exercising gently which makes me feel lovely the whole day.

  4. I love what you shared about the traditional forms of exercise. Even when I used to exercise in a more traditional way, whilst I chose to be unaware of the impact on my body, in all honesty I could say that when I looked at others exercising in a similar way it did not look right. People running never look like they are enjoying being in their body, lifting heavy weights looks painful for the body as does holding strong yoga poses. I now have a far more gentle way of exercise that my body calls for. If I haven’t exercised for a few days or been for a walk, my body lets me know – it is my body leading the way. There is no push or drive or thinking I must go to the gym.

  5. When I see those numbers for running, it really stops me, it makes me consider the impact it is having on my body and if it is truly something that I should be doing. I can get the same cardio vascular fitness from other lower impact forms of exercising so why would I choose to put my joints and my bones under that much pressure? Universal Medicine has supported me to approach exercise in a way that results in a more vital and consistent fitness level. There is always more to develop and discover but being open and honest to reassess my normal has always proved to be good medicine.

  6. I look back on the thirty years that I pushed my body with exercise and it all seems so pointless – trying to morph the body into something based on an image I had in my head to the detriment of my health and wellbeing. It’s so much more enjoyable to be able to feel the gentle movement of my body, to be able to feel my feet and legs and hips as I walk and exercise gently in the way you’re speaking of Danielle and to not feel exhausted in the process.

  7. “I have found that there is a renewed daily vitality, instead of the exhaustion that often comes with exercise.” This makes so much sense. When we push ourselves to exercise and end up feeling exhausted, it is the body telling us that we are harming ourselves whereas, when we exercise gently, constantly aware of how our body is feeling and as a result have renewed vitality, this is the body offering an appreciation of how we are treating ourselves.

  8. I never enjoyed running. It never felt natural to me, but there was a period where I forced myself to do it because it was so popular, and I began to think there was just something wrong with me not liking it. I was interested to read how running affects the body and how you can be 1cm shorter after a marathon from all that pounding on your body. I do enjoy exercising my body and discovered that I can feel strong and have good fitness levels without completing punishing regimes in the gym. Having a gentle and consistent exercise routine really works for me and I am injury free.

  9. My relationship with exercise has started to change from a very driven, harsh way of exercising where I would just push on through and force my body to do whatever I told it to do, to now using exercise as a way of reconnecting to and listening to my body. The difference is quite amazing, and so is the way I feel afterwards. Before, I would feel a high- the endorphins rushing around my body and the satisfaction of having achieved a goal. But I would also feel a lot of underlying exhaustion, which I would get rid of by doing more exercise, instead of truly addressing it. Now, I don’t get those highs and lows but I do get consistency and steadiness: a connection to a steadiness and spaciousness within me that is always there, and that exercise can support a reconnection back to feeling.

  10. Refining our exercise is about listening more deeply to what the body actually needs, and not running to pictures of what we think exercise should be about, or how we should feel afterwards. After pushing myself hard in exercise for years, I then reacted against it by giving up completely and doing nothing – which wasn’t it either. I’m now learning a whole new way of exercise which is based on connection and feeling my body, and not the number of press ups or how stretched I feel afterwards. It’s an ongoing, unfolding process, but one that gives me a marker throughout my day to connect back to, and it feels amazing to start to be enjoying being in my body in this way.

  11. If you had told me 30 to 40 years ago that exercise can be done in a gentle way that is connected with the body I would probably have been very hesitant and thought that is only for people who do not want to ‘fully’ exercise. Having now experienced exercising gently with connection to my body, I can say that this form of exercising is simple, profound and powerful, whilst honouring my body at the same time, a far more loving choice.

  12. The fact that many of us think we have to ‘go hard’ and push ourselves to get any form of benefit out of exercise shows the degree to which we are living out of tune with our bodies. What you are presenting here Danielle makes so much sense – that there is a way to work in accordance with our bodies that is going to lead to increased vitality and less exhaustion quite simply because it takes more energy to work against our physicality than work with it.

  13. An exercise revolution, being gentle, listening to the body and doing what is required, whilst improving fitness. Why aren’t people jumping for joy and lining up to learn how this is done?

  14. “I thank Serge deeply for suggesting that there may be another way to be with our body that is much more loving and supportive.” I now very much enjoy my exercises rather than see them as a chore and my body is saying ‘Thank you.’

  15. I always used to view exercise as something to push the body into seemingly against its better judgement and so my body would be dragged along for the ride never being listened to unless it hurt so much that it stopped me. Thanks to Universal Medicine, these days I now exercise in partnership with my body retaining a constant connection to it and paying attention to everything that it tells me, This approach turns what I used to view as a chore in to a joy.

  16. I have always resisted exercising regularly because it felt so hard on my body. Danielle and Universal Medicine introduced a way of exercising gently and in honour of my body which feels amazing and supports me way more than any intensive exercise ever did.

  17. I wonder what is the statistic for how much injury our current forms of exercise cause the body. I remember how I use to exercise and the impact on my body was extreme and as the article gives us, the pressure running along puts on us is enormous. My training and exercise regime is completely different now to how it was prior. Gone is the running over any distance, gone are heavy weights, the deep tissue massages, the extreme training and sports and the list goes on. Now I still regularly exercise but it’s walking, stretching, breathing and lifting light weights to activate muscles. At this point in life I am at the strongest, most flexible and settled than I ever have been. It goes to show the model of bashing yourself as exercise is broken and the only way to fix it is to bring another way of exercise to ourselves, the gentler approach is the way.

  18. Recently I put myself on an online program. I was amazed by the delicacy felt in my body as I connected to my body exercising gently and in a way where I was focusing on how my body was feeling so stopping when I felt to or regularly changing my posture to support my body… a very different workout to how I have previously exercised.

  19. The facts the Danielle has mentioned here in relation to the physical strain we place on our bodies by running and pushing ourselves when exercising should make anyone stop and consider the body in which they live, and how that will feel in the years ahead. Old beliefs around exercise are not going to bring about a revolution in health and wellbeing, only our honest evaluation and care for the body we live in will.

  20. I have watched how sports have changed, especially training the body it is pushed to the extreme to maximise its capacity, diet plays a large part in exercise and yet no one until now has looked at changing the way we exercise and the changes that can be gained without adding extra strain on the body, and that gentle exercise can be as rewarding if not more so than pushing our body to the limit.

  21. The gentleness of exercise transforms it into a way of caring for the movement of the body, a way of teaching the body how to move lovingly.

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