When moving is not enough: It may be time to add some exercise
Movement is fundamental to good health. You can build a solid foundation of health and vitality from basic movement done throughout the day. But if that is not enough and you are looking for more results, it may be time to add exercise to your daily routine. When done right, adding a good exercise routine can promote strength, endurance, and accelerate weight loss. But if done wrong you can cause injuries and added stress, undoing all the work you put in through a good diet and sensible movement. This article will provide guidance for finding the right exercises for your lifestyle and desired results.
Let’s first review the difference between movement and exercise. Exercise is typically performed in a specific setting like a gym or in a room in your home set up for such activities. It normally involves a specific program like a cardio class. It may also require special equipment like weights, a treadmill, or a bicycle. Movement requires none of this.
When it comes to getting or keeping in shape, movement throughout the day is far better than occasional exercise. Movement is less stressful, more convenient, and you are more likely to stick with a regular movement routine than a more stress-inducing exercise routine. In fact, it has been clinically proven that moving every 20 minutes results in far greater results than exercising for an hour followed by sitting all day. Movement should be the foundation of any wellness program. Once you are good at moving regularly throughout the day and reducing the amount of time you sit, you may want to add an exercise program if you want to increase your fitness results.
Movement can be anything from walking, using the stairs instead of the elevator, chasing your kids in the yard, doing yard work, laundry, or other housework. Basically, anything that gets you out of your seat and moving your body counts. It is said that sitting is the new cancer, so get off the couch or office chair and get moving.
So now that we have you moving it is time to decide how you can add a little more to your fitness lifestyle. The theory of movement is the same as exercise. Find something you will enjoy. Let’s face it. If you don’t like your exercise, if it is painful, inconvenient, or too hard to fit into your life, you are not likely to stick with it.
Take a quick trip down exercise memory lane and see if you can spot the reasons you have quit in the past. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We have all started and later quit exercising many times in our lives. Recognizing the reasons you have quit in the past will help you find a form of exercise you can stick with for the long haul. You may have to try out a few before you find the one that works for you. Not everyone will enjoy a Cross Fit or Pilates class. You may not have access to a swimming pool. Not to worry. There are tons of other options.
To help you get started I have made a list of my favorite exercise routines that I do regularly. Check these out or find some on your own.
1. Yoga. You might think standing in a bunch of different poses will do much for getting strong or shedding excess fat. I know plenty of athletes who would not be caught dead in a yoga studio. But that’s only because they have never taken a yoga class. Yoga has many different forms, from soft flowing easy movements designed to calm the mind and relax the body, to intense cardio pumping yoga-like hot flow or ashtanga yoga. I’ve seen grown men cry in some of my classes; now that’s intense. The great thing about yoga is, not only can you pick the class that works for you, there are a number of different variations on each move that let you work at your own pace and ability. I strongly recommend taking a basic level class and see what yoga can do for you. I think you will be surprised at the results.
2. Fast walking. Walking is by far the best exercise out there. It is easy, convenient, and when done outside it has the added benefits of fresh air and sunlight. I prefer to hike on nature trails because it allows my feet to benefit from the uneven terrain. Walking all day on flat surfaces causes the muscles and tendons in our feet to weaken, leading to diminished mobility and stability as you age. Your feet have more bones than any other part of your body and they have tons of small supporting muscles and ligaments designed to make minor corrections in your feet and toes as you walk. When these vital components weaken from walking on flat surfaces and overly cushioned shoes you begin to experience a loss of coordination and stability. Walking regularly and on natural surfaces is a great way to maintain an active fit body.
3. Biking. Compared to other forms of cardio, biking provides one of the best exercises without raising your heart rate. Unless you are riding a lot of hills you can maintain an optimal heart rate just by peddling at a modest pace. I have a bike path that is flat. My heart rate rarely goes over 100bpm and I get a great workout. Contrary to the “no pain no gain” theory of exercise, you don’t need to hit a max heart rate to get great results. Cycling works the largest muscles in your body, burning tons of calories without overworking your joints the way running does. Staying under your max heart rate ensures you stay in an aerobic fat-burning zone.
4. Swimming. When the International Olympic Committee wanted to create statues of the ultimate male and female athletes they used water polo players as their models. Since they wanted to show the human body in its best overall form the models needed to have good muscle ton in all areas of their bodies. Water polo players, because they spend all day swimming, turned out to have the best overall muscular balance. It turns out swimming is the best exercise for developing your entire body, both muscular and cardio fitness. This is due to the equal resistance around the body that water provides during swimming. You aren’t just working your legs like in running or biking, or just your upper body like with many strength-related sports. Every part of your body is engaged when you swim. So if you have regular access to a pool, why not dive into this great exercise.
If none of these work for you there are tons of online exercise programs that require little or no equipment and can be done on your schedule. You may also find options at your local park, community center, or a meetup group.
Also, don’t think you have to pick one and do the same thing every day. Feel free to mix it up. The more flexible you can make your program the more likely you are to enjoy it and stick with it. The key is to move all day and exercise when you are feeling it.
Last bit of wisdom, please make sure to include proper recovery time in between exercises. The harder your workout, the longer you need to rest before the next session. Also, get plenty of sleep. Ramping up your exercise activity will put an extra strain on your body so allow it time to recover, especially in the beginning when you are still adjusting to the new level of activity. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.
Author and Optimize Coach
David is a writer and coach specialing in awakening human potential. David likes to think of himself as a conscious creator, student of life, Super Dad, chef, Spartan Athlete, and Optimize Performance Coach. Writing for Dr. Kusher and the CFL community is just one of his many joys.