A Little Exercise Goes a Long Way
~ I know I shouldn't have to say this but I will. Before you start a new exercise program or modify an existing program, please check with your physician.
For the majority of people there are just two types of regular and moderate exercise necessary to help achieve and maintain good health. Aerobic and Strength Training. And to be honest, at my worst health in 2012, I would have laughed at the idea of even one form of exercise. So I can imagine for some of you the thought of reading any further is dreadful. Hang in there. It's not as bad as it sounds.
Cardiovascular or Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise, more commonly known as "cardio," is utilizing your lower and /or upper body in a sustained moderate or high intensity movement for no less than 20 minutes. This can be done walking, hiking, jogging, jumping rope, swimming, cycling, running, skiing, dancing and aerobics classes, etc.. The object is to increase your heart rate and breathing, work up a sweat, and get oxygenated blood flowing to your extremities and the muscles you are using for any particular exercise. Sounds simple right? It is, and there's no need to over complicate matters by trying to do too much at first. The only exercise I had during the 6 month period I lost my first 65 pounds, was walking our dog. (He was a big dog and we lived in the country so these walks often lasted over an hour) The key is to find something you enjoy doing and are capable of doing safely. The internet is full of ideas and in future vlog posts I'll be sharing some examples of exercises you can do in your own home or office with minimal or no equipment.
Dr. Dean Ornish recommends "a minimum of 30 minutes a day or for an hour every other day for a total of 3-5 hours of aerobic exercise per week." You could literally do that sitting on your ass.
Some Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
- Burns calories
- Reduces body fat
- Can lower high blood pressure
- Increases endurance
- Reduces the risk of chronic diseases and some forms of cancer
- Can reduce pain and swelling caused by arthritis
- Improves bone density
- Increases muscle mass
- Reduces the affects of stress
- Increases self confidence
- Increases metabolism
- Increases heart health
Strength training is nothing more than putting tension and resistance on your muscles. This can be achieved doing body weight exercises, using suspension straps (TRX), resistance bands, wrist and ankle weights and free weights like dumbbells and kettle bells or bottles of water. Again, you don't have to make this complicated. I recommend starting out with body weight and resistance band exercises. Especially if you have been sedentary for a long period of time. Some of the more common body weight exercises are pushups, pull ups, squats, calf raises, sit ups or crunches, leg lifts and planks. I enjoy using resistance bands and my TRX because they allow me to work out in my office. I also have a swiss ball to help with core strength and body stabilization.
Strength training is important to help maintain muscle mass as you age. It will also help you continue to do the things you take for granted now, like walking up and down stairs, taking walks around your neighborhood, enjoying a day playing with your children and grand children. Walking to the market and carrying your groceries, maintaining your home and lawn, etc.. For a beginner's program you don't need much more than 20 to 30 minutes per session, a few days per week. You want to make sure you use slow and controlled movements to avoid injury. No huffing or puffing or slinging your limbs or weights around like some gorilla in a gym. One repetition is lifting and lowering the weight or applying and releasing the tension on a band. Lift on a count of 2 and lower on a count of 4. If you're not sure how to do some of these exercises, Youtube is full of instructional videos. And you could always visit a local gym or fitness center and have a consultation.
Some Benefits of Strength Training
- Increases your strength
- Increases muscle mass
- Increases bone density
- Lowers risk of chronic diseases
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Improves flexibility
- Reduces back and knee pain
- Reduces risk of injury (stronger bones and muscles)
- Improves balance and posture
- Boosts self confidence
- Increases lean tissue and metabolism
- Increases functional capacity
Proper recovery is probably the most over looked aspect of any training program. It can mean the difference between significant improvement and injury and setback. Every recovery program should include clean nutrition with proper pre and post workout fuelling. Using foam rollers and sticks to release muscle tissue and fascia is recommended 2 to 3 times a week. And I cannot stress enough how important it is to get adequate sleep. I know life can get in the way of many things but if you can get between 8 to 10 hours of quality sleep it will do wonders for you. For recovery, sleep is when your muscles and tissues repair and grow. As with the aerobic exercises, I'll share some of my work outs and recovery sessions in future vlog posts.