by Heidi Toy, NTP
If exercise has so many health rewards, why do so many people find it so hard to do? Michael Otto, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University, has some theories about that. First, most of the health payoffs that make people want to exercise are not experienced instantly. Many of those payoffs take weeks or months to manifest. Losing the belly fat, or having your lipids normalize, is just not going to happen overnight.
Starting out too hard in a new exercise program may be another reason. When you exercise above your respiratory threshold, that is, above the point when it gets hard to talk, you postpone exercise’s immediate mood boost by about thirty minutes, per Dr. Otto. If you’re a novice, that delay might keep you from returning to the gym.
Many people set their fitness goals around the scale, which can be a recipe for failure. Weight loss may be your goal, but you can sabotage it with an unhealthy fixation on a number.
You will probably feel better quickly, so that’s a better short-term goal. For some, the hardest part of the workout is getting dressed for it—or getting to the gym. So start simply by walking around the neighborhood for twenty minutes. Much research now tells us that the first twenty minutes of moving around provide most of the health benefits.
Excessive physical activity may be as harmful to your health as being too sedentary. If this is you, then your goal is to find the middle ground and know when enough is enough.
Remember, when it comes to evaluating your fitness success, you are only competing with yourself.
Exercise should be balanced with strength training, proper stretching, core strengthening, stress reduction, restorative sleep, and good nutrition.
1. Stand up every fifteen minutes. Compelling research now tells us that prolonged sitting can have a tremendously detrimental impact on your health, even if you exercise regularly. Whenever you have a chance to move your body, do so.
2. Include interval (anaerobic) training. Interval training involves alternating short bursts of high-intensity exercise with gentle recovery periods. This is called a PACE or Peak Fitness routine, originally put forth by Dr. Al Sears. Check out this website: www.paceliving.com/exercise/sample-exercises.
3. Don’t forget strength training. Rounding out your exercise program with a one-set strength training routine will work different muscle groups and keep them in shape. It is especially important that women who are concerned about osteoporosis lift weights to keep their bones healthy.
4. Include core exercises. Our bodies have twenty-nine core muscles located mostly in the back, abdomen, and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout the body, and strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury, and improve your balance and stability. Enlightened chiropractors work with physical therapists who can teach the movements and how to use a ball, a balance board, etc., to work out and stretch the muscles that support the fascia.
5. Stretch. It is as important as weight lifting or any other part of an exercise routine. It becomes more important the older we get. It allows the body to repair itself and prepare for daily activity.
Heidi Toy is a Functional Nutritional Therapist, and the owner of “Educated Nutrition”, located in Altoona, WI. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on digestion, weight loss, depression, female hormone issues, and fatigue.