I know this won’t come as a surprise to many of those reading…but did you know how critical exercise is for your health?! It may seem like common sense, but moving your body consistently is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to support your physical AND mental health. The problem is that most people don’t know the appropriate way to exercise for their body type, goals, and current state of fitness. Obviously, an ultramarathoner will have a different workout regimen than someone getting off the couch for the first time. But there’s a wide range in between those two extremes. How do we know what’s best for us? I put together a list of guidelines that should help you refine your routine no matter what stage of fitness you’re in.
1.) WATCH YOUR HEART RATE
A colleague of mine, Dr. Phil Maffetone, was instrumental in developing a formula with which to identify an ideal aerobic exercise heart rate zone. You simply take 180 and subtract your age. Subtract 10, and you have your heart rate zone that is appropriate for you. For example, if you’re 40 years old, 180-40=140 – 10 =130. Therefore your zone would be 130-140 bpm during your exercise. Going above or below this zone means you’re anaerobic, and therefore burning sugar instead of fat which can create imbalances in your adrenal glands, liver and pancreas as they keep up with the stress of the exercise. (I find it’s much worse to OVER-exercise than to UNDER-exercise). Now this formula has its limitations- which is why it’s important to take other factors into consideration (injury status, hormonal balance, strength, overall fitness level and more). But if you’re new to exercise or new to using a heart rate monitor during exercise, this is a great place to begin to be sure you’re not harming yourself while trying to improve your health.
2.) BE CONSISTENT
We can’t expect to exercise once a month and see results from a singular or rare effort. Progress forward in any area is dependent upon consistency of work over time. Once again, everyone is different, so the number of times per week will vary depending on your goals and other health variables. But pick some consistent times per week that work for you and your schedule and stick to them. Whether that’s 2 times per week or 5 times, you’ll see and feel a greater change with constant effort. Plus, over time, you’ll come to enjoy your workouts as your time for yourself! (I know I do!!!)
3.) KEEP SOME VARIETY
Our bodies are intelligent and adapt quickly to imposed demands. This is why changing our exercise routines is beneficial to keep our muscles fresh and stimulating our metabolism. Walking, running, biking, weight lifting, swimming, boxing, Tai Chi, yoga…etc. and more – all exercises have their benefits. So pick a few you like and cycle through them to keep your body guessing!
4.) HAVE FUN
If your workouts aren’t enjoyable, it’ll be harder to stick with them. So make them fun! Or combine them with another activity you do enjoy –music, friendship, television! Whatever you choose, smiling while doing it will contribute more advantages and value to your body and mind!
I had a few brief YouTube videos on exercise that provide more details on why avoiding intense workouts may be important for you, and how exercise affects your mental state. Feel free to check them out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zglg7lS3h-E&t=11s and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMgyDyMZJMk, and consider subscribing to my channel Dr. Christy Cares!
If you have any questions, please reach out for more personal guidance…I’m happy to help you determine the amount and intensity of exercise that’s most appropriate for you. Dr. Christy Matusiak