One of the fundamental principles of health in Chinese medicine is this phrase—bu tong zi tong, tong zi bu tong. The translation is this—if there is no flow there is pain, if there is flow there is no pain.
When it comes to the human body, when everything is moving smoothly—from blood flow to nerve flow, digestion and respiration, emotional processing, and everything else—we are at our healthiest. Think of it this way....When your muscles feel stuck or things aren't moving digestive-wise or you're stuck in grief, you likely don't feel your best.
It's common for the flow of blood and qi (also known as nitrous oxide, sodium, potassium, calcium and other ions and molecules that the body relies on for organ function) to become stagnant. When qi or blood get stuck, we feel pain....physically and emotionally. If much of the time is spent sitting, there's a higher chance qi and blood will become stagnant because the body was not designed to be sedentary. We have large core and leg muscles for a reason, and they're meant to be used for most of the day.
Additionally, in Chinese medicine, emotions are found throughout the body. Movement can metabolize emotions, and recent research points towards the benefit of exercise in relieving anxiety. Have you ever noticed that you feel calmer after a long walk in the woods or after moving through three yoga sun salutations?
Even the American College of Physicians recommends movement before using medication for relieving low back pain. Taken directly from their website: For patients with chronic low back pain, ACP recommends that physicians and patients initially select non-drug therapy with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction, tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise (MCE), progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or spinal manipulation.
And yes you read that right....the American College of Physicians recommends acupuncture, mindfulness and yoga for relieving low back pain before taking medication....because all of these things and everything else listed are all about movement.