Getting the Most from Exercise

Posted by on Feb 6, 2012 in On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

I wasn’t the kind of kid who played organized sports or even kickball in the street. I did take some dance classes, but at the time no one thought of them as exercise. Plus I was oh-so-uncoordinated … Of course I took phys ed class at school but I would have just as soon gone to the library. I never took pleasure in physical activity.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I discovered exercise as a feel good activity. I learned that it wasn’t all about building muscle, although that was a lovely side effect. My office was in the same building as a small gym, and it was free to belong. My girlfriends went up to the gym on their lunch hour, and I thought I’d try it too. I started to think about burning calories and “getting in shape.” I also discovered that it made me feel energetic and even happy!

Since then, I have done a lot of different things to gain all of these benefits – lifted weights, used cardio machines, taken yoga and water exercise classes, walked sidewalks and nature trails, and even bicycled a few miles. Now I can’t imagine my life without some sweaty, heavy-breathing, heart-pounding exercise every week. Whenever possible, I integrate exercise into my travel schedule as well. One of the benefits of my recent vacation was having time to catch three yoga classes during the week!

Here are some ideas I’ve gathered over the years. I hope they help you get moving towards adding exercise into your life!

Seven Tips for Getting the Most from your Exercise

1. Sweat: Make sure that when you exercise, it makes you sweat! When you exercise, you gain access to endorphins, a chemical produced by your body that can make you feel fantastic. Sweating intensely or even somewhat can contribute to detoxification of your skin and body. It makes you glow!

2. Switch: Switch up your exercise during the week, month or year. Don’t expect the same benefits forever from your routine. I find that learning something new is great for my body and my mind. Plus my muscles get bored doing the same type of exercise all the time. Every time I switch it up I gain momentum and strength. It’s also a great way to meet new friends and even do some networking!

3. Schedule: Incorporate exercise like it was another important appointment in your calendar. Put it in the calendar, and reschedule instead of cancel whenever you need to adjust your schedule. Commit to keep the appointments with yourself – you are worth it! If you are exercising with a health goal in mind, you can even write yourself a “prescription” that reminds you why you make the time to move more.

4. Experts: Schedule a few sessions with a personal trainer or coach who is an expert in the exercise you are practicing. Learn the best way! It will keep you from injuring yourself and maybe even motivate you to go further.

5. Hydrate: Make sure that as you exercise you are getting the water-based hydration you need. If you aren’t hydrated, exercise and lots of sweat can make you feel worse. There’s nothing more de-motivating than that! Experiment and discover what types of fuel work best for you – and what timing works best for you too. For example, I wouldn’t want to eat for at least 3 hours before a yoga class. But with other types of exercise I generally want some healthy carbs for fuel within an hour of starting.

6. Get dressed – Here’s a crazy idea from Dawn Jackson Blatner — get all dressed and ready to exercise, then go to the gym/studio/pool and don’t exercise! Walk around a bit and see what everyone else is getting to do, but go home before you do anything. After just three days of this you may be dying to actually exercise!

7. Listen to your body – Sometimes when we start something new, we push ourselves pretty hard. If you’re starting to hurt instead of feel energized, remember to back off based on how you feel not what someone else tells you is possible. Sleep if you need to. Find that fine line between listening to your body’s needs and being lazy. Don’t cross into lazy, but don’t hurt yourself either!

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Water Exercise – My Spring Resolution

Posted by on Mar 4, 2011 in Wellness Ideas | 3 comments

Many years ago I discovered that exercise was a terrific way to cope with stress. I know – so did a lot of us! I also love the endorphin rush of a good workout – it helps me stave off my natural depressive tendencies. In fact, about 10 years ago I decided that I needed to “write myself a prescription” for exercise and really get serious. Now my planned exercise gets entered in my calendar and treated like a meeting. I OWE it to myself to show up!

Over the last year or so, it’s been hard for me to get those exercise sessions on the calendar regularly. The primary reason has been some chronic pain issues I’ve experienced. Plus, once I got out of the habit it was a challenge to “ramp it up” again.

This year, my spring resolution is to get my exercise back to its previous levels in my life. I OWE it to myself not to skip – I need the stress relief – I need the endorphin rush – I need the fun!

So, instead of just going back to my old standard exercise choices, I’m trying something new. It’s fun to learn something new, and to laugh a little at myself for being klutzy. It’s got to be good for my brain to learn new ways to make my body move. And I wanted to try something that wasn’t going to be as hard on my body.

So the decision is — I’m starting water exercise classes! I’ve been to two classes now, and it’s a great choice for me. Not the hardest workout I’ve ever had, but I leave feeling like the 60 minutes invested has made me feel energized and upbeat. I can’t say whether I’ll notice big physical changes or not, but I know my heart gets pumping during class.

Doing some research for myself, here are a few interesting links about water exercise:

Top 10 benefits of water aerobics

CDC on the health benefits of water exercise

Water exercise for people with fibromyalgia

 

 

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Spring Resolutions!!

Posted by on Mar 3, 2011 in Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

 

I’m not a winter weather person. In fact, I loved the eight years of warm winters I spent in Florida. But since I’m back in the northern climates, I am back to chilly winters.

When January rolls around every year, I am not motivated to start a new wellness project. So a few years ago I decided to make “Spring Resolutions” instead. Spring is a time of growth and new life. It’s renewal and coming out of hibernation. So it’s a great time to plan a new project; try a new exercise; upgrade your food choices — whatever you feel motivated to change!

What are your Spring 2011 Resolutions going to be?

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