The Yin and Yang of Exercise: How to Choose the Type of Exercise That’s Right For You

Spring time is a fantastic time to add more movement into your life. The world outside is just brimming with Yang energy, with everything getting ready to spring into new life. If you find it difficult to get enough exercise, you can take advantage of that energy and use it as a boost to get into the swing of moving again.

The Chinese concept of Yin and Yang can help us to understand our bodies and make the best exercise choices.

Understanding Your Body’s Needs with Yin and Yang Theory

One of the things that can get in the way of exercise is knowing where to start. Often it’s difficult to decide what kind of exercise is best, especially if you’re struggling with health problems, and you have a busy life with little free time.

This is where Traditional Chinese medical theory can really help us to better understand our bodies, and make better choices for ourselves. By using the ancient theory of Yin and Yang, we can figure out exactly what kind of exercise will most benefit our body, and bring healthy balance to our exercise plan. (If you’re not quite sure what Yin and Yang are, read my post about it here.)

Choose the style of exercise that will bring you back to balance

If we want to have the best health possible, we need to make wise choices based on our current state of health rather than standard guideline or theories about what we “should” be doing. For example, it’s going to counter-productive to follow the guideline of 150 minutes of moderately vigorous aerobic exercise a week if 10 minutes leaves you light-headed and gasping for breath.

Likewise, doggedly following your fitness plan regardless of how you’re feeling that day can lead you to override your body’s wisdom and can sometimes do more harm than good.

The Yin-Yang Exercise Solution: a Simple 3-Step Plan

OK, so here’s my simple, 3-step plan for picking the right exercise plan for you:

  1. Commit. Commit to regular physical activity, several times a week. No matter what your level of health is, if you can move, then you need to move.
  2. Be honest. Take an honest look at your current level of activity and your current level of health – where you are now, not where you think you should be! Notice how you feel during and after exercise. If you’re exhausted and dizzy afterwards, dial it back. If you never break a sweat, step it up. The trick is challenging yourself just a bit and not too much.
  3. Be flexible. Check in with your body every day to make sure that your plan is right for you today. If you’re fighting a cold, ease off and choose a more gentle form of movement. If you have extra energy and your body still wants more after your regular exercise, take advantage of that and do a bit extra.

Compassion is the Key to a Healthy Exercise Plan

So many of us use exercise regimes as a way to beat ourselves up. (If you struggle with this, read this blog post before you do anything else!). When we’re not coming from a place of compassion towards ourselves, it’s easy to use exercise as a form of self-punishment, and either push it too far so we injure ourselves or drain our energy, or we resist it and avoid exercise altogether.

But when we love ourselves and want the best for ourselves, it’s much easier to make the choices that will lead us to our best health. So be kind to yourself, and give yourself the gift of healing movement.

Your health ally,


Moss Andrewes is an acupuncturist and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, specializing in women’s health and chronic illness. Originally from the UK and now residing in Canada, she is a writer, speaker, and event organizer, focusing on health, sustainable living and community. Her lifelong passion for making the world a happier, healthier place has led her through many adventures, including off-grid sustainable living, disaster relief, and various community health projects. She currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with her partner and two cats.

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