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 Move for the Health of It—Do Something Aerobic 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Simply Well by . View all columns in series

* Join the dance. You may be surprised at how easy and joyful movement can be. The following exercise gets you dancing in a way that is energizing and fun. Read the directions over once or twice before you begin so you won’t have to stop once the movement starts. Here’s what to do:

1. Play a recording of a slow, gentle piece of music, or tune your radio to a classical or easy listening station. Then close your eyes and simply listen to the music for a few minutes. Breathe it in.

2. Begin to move by directing your attention to your right hand, and start to tap or stretch those fingers in any way that the music suggests. Allow the movement to extend, encompassing your wrist as well. Keep doing this simple movement for a while. Then direct your attention to the left hand and do the same. Imagine that you are directing an orchestra, or splashing in water, or molding a piece of clay to represent what you are hearing. Play with the sound. Next, engage your right arm, and then your left, allowing yourself to move from your shoulders to the tips of your fingers. How many different ways can you find to bend them, to position them, to move them in unison or in opposition?

3. Keep your arms and hands going, doing whatever they want to, as you now pay attention to your head. Let the music direct it. Conduct the symphony with a baton that extends from the center of your forehead, from the crown, from your chin.

4. Your upper body now wants to get into the act. Concentrate on your middle section. Allow yourself to bend and sway from the waist in any way that feels good. Pretend that your whole body consists of the area from your waist to your head; forget the rest. Let your hips and pelvis join in the movement only when you are ready for them. Careful here; they will want to take over.

5. Imagine yourself as a tree in the wind. Your roots are firm. Only your branches and upper trunk sway. Be a fettered bird wanting to escape, but restrained by a silver thread. Fantasize that you are a belly dancer, write your name with an imaginary pencil that extends from your left hip. Write "I love you" with the imaginary pencil.

6. Unlock your knees and move your legs without lifting your feet. Challenge yourself with how many ways you can direct your legs, ways that you never tried before. Pretend that you are scientifically cataloguing all the possible combinations of movement that legs can make. Keep your feet still until you can’t stand it a minute longer. Go within yourself and note what every part of your body feels like. Imagine your blood cells dancing, your oxygen dancing, and your energy dancing.

7. Now let go completely and allow yourself to move totally—head, arms, belly, pelvis, legs, feet. Surprise!

Want another exercise? Try a different, perhaps more active, piece of music.

Reprinted with permission, from Simply Well by John W. Travis, MD, & Regina Sara Ryan. Copyright 2001. Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA.

The online version of Dr. Travis' Wellness Inventory may be accessed at ( The Wellness Inventory may also be licensed by coaches, health and wellness professionals, and organizations.

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 About The Author
John W. Travis, MD, MPH, is the creator of the Wellness Inventory and its parent, the Wellness Index. He is the founder and co-director of ...moreJohn Travis MD, MPH
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