My latest “aha” moment in fitness

Yoga Stretching
Photo Credit: Tomas Sobek

Let’s talk about something other than parenting.

There are many types of exercise. Namely cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility.

The least I used to like is flexibility.


Because being a macho man that I am, flexibility equals limberness and sissyness. At the end of the day, I don’t want to look everything but wimpy.

Being muscular and having excellent stamina were always my exercise goals.

Not anymore.

Times have changed. And I don’t fancy an Arnold Schwarzenegger type of body anymore.

As age is catching up, I only wish every muscle of mine can function well and smoothly. I don’t care how flabby they look. If they can work as I wish I am happy.

Being a little over 40, sometimes I have cracking sound and small pains as I go up the staircase – especially in the knees.

The time I have a flexible, well-functioning physical body has become the thing of the past.

In fact, I didn’t really look for a solution. But somehow nature has its own way of getting the messages across.

When I was studying The Tao Te Ching, a 2,500-year old ancient Chinese book, one verse (TTC only has 81 verses) struck me and since then I changed my outlook on flexibility exercise.

Here’s the verse that gave me the enlightening moment (Translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English):

“A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.
Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.”
– 76th Verse of the Tao Te Ching

As you can see from the verse, I don’t want to have anything to do with stiffness which in turn is related to death.

On the other hand, I want to be as flexible as possible because being flexible means being alive.

Lao Tzu (author of TTC) knew the importance of flexibility before anyone else. And he has convinced me to take flexibility more seriously.

Lately I have picked up flexibility exercise and never felt better. It doesn’t matter what you do, just take up any form of flexibility exercise you fancy.

I mix and match some routines from yoga, Chinese form of exercise, or just plain stretching we learn from school and fitness club.

I can see the difference. I feel more energetic, less lethargic, and of course more flexible (you won’t strain your muscles or have joint pains so easily).

I just came back from trekking yesterday and I don’t have any bodily or muscle pains the next day. How wonderful.

Listen to Lao Tzu: flexibility is the key to fitness.

Now I understand why yoga and tai chi are some of the most popular exercises in the world.

P.S. For tips on raising healthy and fit children, check out “The Nonconformist’s Guide to Parenting.”

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