I learned everything I needed to know about slowing aging in kindergarten. 

And then I grew up and forgot the most important principles.

Joy and play!

One side of my family was big into tennis. 

I found the racket hitting the ball wasn’t my jam so I found other ways to play while they were on the court. 

I’ll get to that in a minute…(if you can’t wait – there’s a video at the end)

I’m participating in an online summit called “The Power of One” later this Spring and when asked what was one thing you could do for your health – I knew I had to share this!

So….

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What does playing with tennis balls have to do with aging?

They connect the 2 things that contribute to much of the imbalances in adults over 40!

The heart and the brain. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the brain is considered part of one’s kidney qi. 

Qi, being the ions the body uses to make energy and sustain life.

And, the same ions used to help fire the nervous system synapses as well. 

The heart and kidney qi, when in balance, keep energy up, pain in check as well as hormones and moods in balance.

These two when out of balance contribute many of the signs of aging, especially symptoms that go with peri-menopause and menopause. 

In Chinese Medicine each organ or organ system has an element that goes with it. 

The heart’s element is fire.

While the kidney’s (adrenals, and nervous system are included here) element is water.

I like to think of the kidney qi in the body as your battery.

It determines what you tolerate in terms of stress and your daily or weekly energy stores.

If you are deficient in kidney qi, you don’t have enough water to put out fires in the body. 

Fires tend to show up as hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, lack of focus, joint inflammation and even rashes.

Low amounts of “water” to put out fires ends up with raging fires and more symptoms.

The more stressed you are from your external and internal environment (your thoughts) the more you deplete your kidney qi and “water”.

Anger, irritability, strong emotions and trauma held in the body all deplete your kidney qi. 

When your vagus nerve is on hyper alert all the time and it’s not sure you’re “safe”…

…you’ll be fatigued, worn down and feel burnt out on life. 

Logically you know you’re “safe” but sometimes your thoughts, actions and situations you have on repeat in your life tell your brain and vagus nerve otherwise.

The more this happens the more water (aka kidney qi) you’ll need over time to put out fires.

Nerve firing can become wacky as in the case of atrial fibrillation, increased heart rate and blood pressure. 

Balance and agility can decline to the point that you stop doing some of the sports, hobbies and activities that you used to do because you don’t feel “safe” doing them.

Sometimes balance and agility deficits are slight and your nervous system notices them causing you to feel unsure of yourself when walking on uneven surfaces, crossing a creek balancing on rocks or going down steep hills.

In your 20’s you may have leapt from rock to rock and thought nothing of running down a steep hill.

Now you’re cautiously making your way across or down. 

Has this happened do you?

I know I caught this happening and decided it was time to work on it!

Cardiovascular health declines with age but doesn’t have to.

You can build your strength and increase muscle at any age.

So why couldn’t you do the same with your heart muscle?

Sadly, the connection between the heart and the nervous system isn’t discussed with aging. 

In Chinese Medicine, the emotion that goes with the heart is joy and the kidney’s emotion is fear. 

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In researching this topic, I’ve concluded that fear is associated with the kidney because of the vagus nerve’s job to keep us safe. 

While you may not associate fear as being a positive emotion I invite you to think of it as your guide. 

If you become fearful of something it’s time to check in and ask why. 

This question is what brought me to add play that challenges balance and agility along with cardiovascular conditioning to my exercise routine. 

You want a strong heart-nervous system connection to be more resilient to stress and to keep you active for life. 

Pairing fun challenges for the nerves strengthens the heart and kidney qi so that you have more water to put out fires…

…and a heart that is strong to resist fires

Take a look at the areas where the most centenarians live and you’ll notice there are quite a few in Okinawa, an area known to follow the principles of Asian medicine like I’ve outlined here today. 

Modern hustle culture has diverted humans away from the concepts of balance and going with the flow of life. 

There’s nothing better than watching my Dad play with my Golden Retriever Bryan – he lights up and bounces around!

Play is one of the greatest joys humans can experience and I’m on a mission to bring it back in hopes of reconnecting your heart and your nervous system so that you live a long joyful life!

Check out my video below demonstrating how I’m playing with tennis balls and challenging my heart and nervous system with play!

Here’s to your heart-kidney connection,

Dr. J

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