This week I was discussing with my Personal Trainer what I would like my exercise/physical activity/movement goals to be for 2019. This lead me to think: Is there a correct amount and type of exercise one should be doing?
There is a concept called Nutritious Movement which was coined by Katy Bowman, a biomechanist She suggests we look at balanced exercise in the same way that we look at a balanced diet.
We know that when it comes to our diet we should be “eating the rainbow” as it’s important to have diversity in our diet. Kale and strawberries are great foods to eat but if we just ate that without adding other foods to our diet, our diets would be lacking many nutrients.
Similarly, when you move your body you are moving the cells within your body. So, if you did 100 bicep curls (ouch!) then that area of your body will be nourished by that movement but other areas of your body wouldn’t be. Movement needs to be distributed over your body to nourish your entire body. Sore feet, headaches, back pain, aching knees, digestive problems, cardiovascular disease and so many more ailments can be symptoms of a poor movement diet.
Just because you are active doesn’t mean that you have a nutritious, rich movement diet.
Australia’s national exercise guidelines for ages 18-64 suggest a minimum of:
- 2 ½ hours of “moderate intensity” physical activity per week
- 1 ½ hours of “vigorous intensity” physical activity per week
- muscle-strengthening activities at least twice per week
- Moderate intensity activities – are those that require some effort but where conversation is still possible such as brisk walking, moderate cycling, swimming, social tennis or dancing (which is my favourite form of exercise).
- Vigorous intensity activities – are those that make you breathe harder or puff and pant, depending on how fit you are. They include aerobics, cycling fast, jogging and other competitive sports.
- Muscle strengthening activities – weightlifting, resistance training, body weight exercises (such as push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, planks) as well as Yoga and Pilates.
If you’re wondering why your calves are tight (actually they’re short), even though you don’t wear heels, consider this: Sitting in a chair requires your calf muscles to shorten even more than wearing heels does.
If the idea of a 60-minute slog at the gym intimidates you, you’ll be pleased to know that you can meet your minimum physical activity requirement by adding short bursts of exercise together.
Each burst should be at least 10 minutes long (a brisk walk to the bathroom doesn’t count. Sorry!)
If you only have a short amount of time to exercise, you’ll get more bang for your buck by making your exercise vigorous. That’s where the concept of High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) comes from.
What is H.I.I.T.? Short bouts of intense exercise are alternated with lower intensity or “rest periods”.
If you’ve been avoiding exercise because you hate sports, the good news is: there’s a form of activity out there that’ll suit you.
Many can be incorporated into your daily routine — no gym membership required.
Some tips to get you started:
- Be realistic about your exercise goals
- Find a form of movement that you enjoy so that you can commit to doing it consistently
- Try to exercise about 5-6 times per week, if less then try not to have two rest days back-to-back.
- Use a standing desk, walk to get your lunch or incorporate walking meetings into your day
- Limit your screen time at home. How about taking your dog for a brisk walk instead of watching that second episode of Suits?
- It helps to exercise with a friend or someone who will keep you accountable
- Don’t let bad weather be an excuse to not exercise, it can be invigorating exercising in the rain and it’s healthy to be out in the elements some times. Actually, often my walking partner and I will walk inside a large shopping centre if the elements are too extreme, it’s a great way to exercise and window shop at the same time.
There are so many benefits to moving your body that it’s worth trying to find ways to fit it into your life. Some great benefits are:
- Heart health
- Mental health and stress reduction
- Bone Health and muscle strength
- Helps to maintain stable blood sugar as skeletal muscles burn blood sugar effectively
Did you know that too much exercise can add further stress onto an already stressed body. So how do you know if your exercising is hurting you and not helping you? Here are some signs:
- It’s draining and you feel exhausted
- You feel good afterwards but you crash hours later
- You are easily injured
- You take a long time to recover
- You are very sore afterwards (not in a good way)
- You get sick often
So slow down, do Yoga or Pilates until you get healthier. Then do something less vigorous.
Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking?
Research is showing that it is best to decrease the amount of time you spend sitting. Sitting for extended periods of time (more than 30 minutes at a time) without getting up and walking for a few minutes in between can have detrimental effects on your body that can’t be exercised off. Breaking up long stretches of sitting can help to guard against a host of health issues such as heart disease, diabetes or weight gain.
So find a form of movement that you enjoy and try to add it to your routine about five days per week. But remember that it’s important to mix it up as you want all areas of your body to benefit.
Here is a suggestion based on the guidelines:
- Day One: A walk
- Day Two: Swim or cycle (you can cycle at the gym)
- Day Three: Weights (at home or at the gym)
- Day Four: A Walk
- Day Five: Yoga or Pilates
That is your physical activity done for the week. How good will you feel once you have achieved this?