It is an old saying that “what you don’t use, you lose.” If you don’t use your body you risk losing it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will die. Of course, if you’re still alive in a body you can’t use very well that’s not going to be so great either. So, one of the foundational pillars for a good life is exercise. Use your body well and it will better serve you, you will have more energy, and likely more fun too.
What kind of exercise is the best to do? Do the exercise you enjoy most! If you’ve never thought of yourself as a person who enjoys exercise it’s now time for you to evolve 😉
Pick something you like doing. If you haven’t been exercising or active recently you may start with something easy like walking or calmly riding a bicycle or jumping on a mini-trampoline or some other introductory activity. Remember it either needs to be fun or something that can grow into being fun for you.
If you are not new to exercising or are progressing beyond the beginning steps then there are a few key principles that will help you to receive the most from your exercise. The first is to remember that balance is a key factor in defining health, so you should have balanced exercise routines. This means a balance of the types of exercise you do as well as the amount that you do. Athletes will of course train more since that is their life focus but for most of us our exercise is for enhancing our lives and not the focus of our lives. So how do we do this and still have time for the rest of our life.
First and foremost we need to make the decision to exercise. Without this decision even the best of plans and routines are not likely to be followed and then they mean nothing. Once you have decided to exercise here are some key elements to factor in.
- The first, as we have already said, is to have fun. Do things that are or can become enjoyable.
- The second is to always include stretching in your routine. Yoga is of course the obvious example here but even on days when you are primarily doing something else you will do best to include some stretching. This will keep you flexible. The healthy balance that is needed for healthy joints and muscles is a balance between strength and flexibility. One of the classic images of aging is being stiff and rigid, so always stretch every time you exercise.
- The third is strength or resistance training. For most people it is best to do this every other day. The stronger you are the easier it is to get around and assuming you are also reasonably flexible then you are less likely to get injured. If your body isn’t strong enough to handle an unexpected stress it is more susceptible to injury. Of course it you are including any kind of sport in your exercise then you’ll need enough strength to fully enjoy it. Once you’ve built more strength your body’s functioning will convert to something called muscle metabolism which automatically burns more fat and leaves you feeling lighter and of course stronger.
- The fourth key factor, and perhaps the most important, is aerobic or cardio training. The research is pretty clear that for most people the best way to do this is by doing something called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This has been shown to give greater benefits in far less time than general aerobic exercise. Depending on who you consult about how to do this, or where you look on the internet, you could be guided in different ways. Most of the approaches, however, agree that HIIT is best achieved by exercising very hard for between 20 and 30 seconds (most say to exercise as hard as possible during this time – again, consult with a health care professional to know if this is right for you) and then to move easily for between 40 and 120 seconds. Do not stop but just go easy with your activity during this in-between phase. If your exercise was running for example you might sprint for 20 seconds and then walk briskly for 40 to 120 seconds. This 20 to 30 second exercise plus the rest phase is one high intensity interval. Repeat this cycle until you have completed eight (8) high intensity intervals. Do this every other day for best results. Every other day HIIT is usually more beneficial than daily HIIT.
As with anything else if you can get expert instruction you will likely be able to achieve more. If you simply want to be more healthy then you can pick things that are fun for you do that include stretching, strength training and HIIT, and in a short while you will likely thank yourself for making such an enjoyable and positive difference in your life.
** Before beginning any new exercise program, including everything mentioned here, you should first check with your primary health care provider to be sure it will be safe and beneficial for you.
*Nothing on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional health care or to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please see your health care professional if you need help with any disease or symptoms.
If this is not easy for you