We all know that exercise and regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can do for our health. It helps us control our weight, build strong bones and muscle, reduce our risk of a multitude of diseases, and helps us release emotional tension and stress, thus creating a happier life all around. What’s the best kind? That’s all about YOU. What kind of movement do you like? That’s the kind you’ll continue to do and the kind that will bring the best results when you’re consistent with it. Ideally we need all three components in some fashion. Aerobic, strength or resistance training, and stretching.
You’re getting your aerobic exercise when you’re chasing after your kids on the playground, going for a jog, walk, swim, bike, etc. My personal favorite is interval training. I’m all about getting the most out of a workout in the fastest time possible! So instead of running on the treadmill for example, at a consistent pace, choose intervals. Warm up for 2 minutes or so, then increase your speed to go as fast as you can handle it for 30-60 seconds. Then slow down to a walking pace for 60-90 seconds (depending on your conditioning level). Ramp it back up again at high speed, and then back down. Do at least 7 intervals. This type of training can be applied to just about any aerobic activity and if you’re not already doing some form of intervals, you’re in for a sweet surprise! Your conditioning level will increase dramatically and your results will soar. I can achieve better results doing interval training in 10 minutes than I can running at a consistent pace for 45 minutes! (Who has time for that?!) There are now some amazing studies going on in Europe with long distance and marathon athletes. They are using interval training for their main conditioning and records are continually being broken. Try it, you’ll like it!
Strength training is absolutely key in achieving a vital immune system and oxygenated musculature. This comes in the form of resistance bands or tubes, body weight exercises (push ups, pull ups, sit ups, etc), and good old fashioned weight training. You can also get creative by making slosh pipes (pvc pipes filled with water and capped at both ends-google it). We do our family slosh pipe obstacle course almost every weekend, and let me tell you, it’s definitely a great strength training workout. As an added benefit, the absolute best way to ensure healthy strong bones is resistance type training. With the rates of osteopenia and osteoporosis in our area, you’re setting yourself up for hardship if you’re not doing some form of strength training.
Stretching is the one portion to proper exercise that seems to get missed the most often, and oddly enough we now know it is the most important component. Did you know that your actual strength will increase by more than 20% just by properly stretching before, during, or after your workout? If you’re a person who is already great at getting enough exercise, but are limiting stretch time, you’re missing out on some easy rewards. Stretching can be done while you’re doing something else too! Need to get your Facebook, online shopping, TV, or reading time in? Great! Get on the floor and stretch while your’e doing it! It’s all about multitasking these days anyway. We hold onto so much stress and tension in our poor muscles, tendons, and ligaments. There are actual molecules of emotion that get stored there. The only way they are released on a regular basis is by stretching! Of course once they’ve been released, your body had better be hydrated so that those toxic emotions can actually be picked up by your lymphatic system and leave the body. As a matter of fact, if you really want to treat your body (and mind), join a gentle restorative stretching/yoga class. There’s one at my clinic if you’re looking.
But all in all, you don’t need a gym membership, specific classes, or a personal trainer to get amazing results from your exercise routine (although they may help). There is a plethora of workouts for FREE on the internet that you can do from home. Get yourself an accountability partner and then the only trick is to keep it fun. You will be motivated to do it if you LIKE doing it! So find something you enjoy and then be consistent. Once you keep it up for at least 21 days, you have most likely made a new habit. Giving your body a break is a good thing too though, just ensure your break is for a day or two and not a month or two. :) Whether you’re an avid exerciser, a ‘here and there’ exerciser, or just getting started, it doesn’t matter. You need to keep yourself just slightly outside your comfort zone (that’s where the miracles are), by deciding on the next best step for your physical body, and going for it!