So often I have clients come to me for help with their nutrition and fitness who are stuck on the fitness part because they hate the gym. They feel that unless they are "working out" intensely, they won't see results, and they don't realize that movement is more important than working out.
Our bodies are designed to move and our sedentary lifestyles that have us sitting at desks or in cars commuting are more problematic than not hitting the gym. In fact, if you sit on your butt for 8-12 hours each day, 1 hour at the gym often won't make up for that. But don't fret! With a little planning you can incorporate more movement into your daily life and alleviate the repercussions of sitting.
Making simple changes like using the stairs, or taking a walk for a few minutes every couple of hours can be immensely beneficial. Not only will it get your blood and lymphatic fluid flowing, but it can actually increase your mental clarity and productivity, making the time spent at your desk more effective. This article published in Fast Company explains how taking mental breaks every 90 minutes can increase your quality of work.
My advice to you if you're trying incorporate more movement into your life or start a fitness regimen, is this: Find something you enjoy and look forward to! If you hate the gym environment, try getting outside for a walk, run, bike ride, or a game of tennis. You might even try a home workout video or on demand workout such as Les Mills, Beachbody On Demand, or Sweatflix and save yourself the drive and gym membership fees. Like the gym but get bored easily? Something like ClassPass may be a good choice. The key here is not to force yourself to do something you dread because it will create a negative association with exercise, and you're unlikely to stay consistent if you don't enjoy it.
We all know that exercise is good for us and I am a HUGE fan of weight training and its amazing benefits, but don't let yourself get intimidated or deterred by starting an intense workout class right out the gate! Regular activity, such as walking, hiking, swimming, or group exercise classes like Zumba, can enhance your quality of life and promote lifelong fitness and good health.
Studies show that people who participate in daily aerobic activities . . .
- maintain a healthy body weight, including lean muscle, by burning fat for energy
- enhance muscle balance, coordination, and agility
- sleep better and are less likely to have chronic pain
- manage stress effectively and recover better from stressful events
- experience less depression and anxiety
- decrease their risk of heart disease and chronic illness
- experience lower blood pressure and improved efficiency in the muscles used for breathing and circulation
Getting Started: Steady Progress Reaps Benefits
A 15-20 minute stroll after dinner or during your lunch break is a wonderful first step toward improving the health of your heart and lungs and enhancing muscle endurance. As you become comfortable with more movement, you can gradually increase your activity and shoot for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 5 days per week, OR 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week.
If you haven't exercised in a while, first consult with your physician and a certified personal trainer at a YMCA, JCC or reputable fitness center. Take Note: if your physician recommends exercise for lowering blood pressure or cholesterol, shoot for 40 minutes of aerobic activity three or four times per week, at moderate-to-vigorous intensity.
Choose an activity you enjoy and you'll be more likely to stick with it. You'll also be more likely to maintain an exercise routine when you work out with a partner or small group. Steady progress provides more benefit than going "all out" and suffering an injury or burning yourself out. Be patient. Give yourself several weeks for your body and mind to adjust to your healthy behavior change.
- What Aerobic Exercise Does for Your Health http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/aerobic-exercise/art-20045541?pg=2
- Statement on Exercise: Benefits and Recommendations for Physical Activity Programs for All Americans: A Statement for Health Professionals by the Committee on Exercise and Cardiac Rehabilitation of the Council on Clinical Cardiology, American Heart Association http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/94/4/857.full
- AHA.org. "American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults" Accessed 5 Sept 2017: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp#.Wa72tK0_k19
- AHA.org "Benefits of Aerobic (Endurance) Exercise" http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Endurance-Exercise-Aerobic_UCM_464004_Article.jsp#.WY8Tu8a-I18
- Physical Activity and Public Health: A Recommendation From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=386766