We all know the saying, “movement is medicine.” I am a firm believer in this. The sedentary lifestyle of western culture is killing us. Despite the research supporting the tremendous mental and physical benefits of moving, we struggle to keep the routine. One of the best things we can do when stressed and overwhelmed is get outside and take a walk. You will clear your mind and burn off some excess energy.
A movement practice is essential for a healthy lifestyle. A question I receive a lot is, “Where do I begin?” First, do what you enjoy, but as with most things, the basics are key. Make sure you are moving during your day and getting upwards of 10,000 steps daily. If you are starting a movement practice, I recommend starting here.
Most of us have a false belief that we must kill ourselves in every workout or it wasn’t worth it. However, this will likely lead to injury and keep you from sticking to it. The longer you stick to intensity only workouts, burnout is likely. If you notice a lack of energy, irritability, and poor body composition for the amount of exercise you’re doing, this could be the problem. In males, a negative side effect is low testosterone and women can have an irregular menstrual cycle.
Training hard has its purpose. It makes you more resilient and allows you to look inside your mind and notice your self-talk. When you move forward in the face of discomfort and uncertainty, you can do the same in your daily life. This is the benefit of hard training, not “earning your calories” or any other reason.
While hard workouts serve their place; the dose is important. If you sit around all day and only get your movement in a one-hour workout class, you are setting yourself up for injury and set back. Consistency over intensity! Moving every day will provide better long-term benefits. The key to hitting these intense workouts is building up to them. This takes time and patience, but health and performance are a life-long pursuit.
A sustainable fitness routine consists of strength training, high-intensity work, mobility, and longer steady-state endurance. The amount and the intensity of each is determined by looking at the individual. As a guideline, 2- 3 days of strength training, 2-3 days of high-intensity work and 1 long endurance effort such as a long walk, hike, paddle, run, etc. Also, daily mobility work will do wonders.
As we age, the ability to move well and do whatever we want will go a long way. Wouldn’t it be nice to run a race, play a sport, or learn a new skill at a moment’s notice? Do you want to ensure you are healthy enough to continue to play the game of life and enjoy whatever activity you wish? The ability to move your joints through a full range of motion, strength train to build muscle, train for intensity to push through when it hurts, and endurance training to move at a consistent effort will all help you get there.
Lastly, it is essential that we also work-in. We can’t be “on” all the time and need to learn to be still. We must give our bodies and minds a break to take on life’s challenges. This will be covered more next week as we discuss the importance of rest and recovery to improve your health and performance.