Exercise is awesome! It makes me feel energized. It makes me feel powerful. It makes me feel healthy and sexy. Unfortunately, I haven’t always made the time for it. It’s not that it’s not a priority for me, it is, it’s just that having four children means there are always fires to put out (not literally, lol).
So, on a quest to find out what I really need to be healthy and meet my fitness goals I started researching exercise online. What I found was both frustrating and reassuring. Frustrating because I wanted someone to tell me to do A, B, and C then poof!, I’d have my perfect body. Reassuring because I did find some solid, useful information to make a personalized workout schedule.
First thing, there are different kinds of exercise. There is aerobic/cardio exercise which gets you breathing hard and your heart pumping. Then there is anaerobic exercise which is a short intense activity and will probably leave you breathless and with a build up of lactic acid. And last but not least, there is stretching which will help with your flexibility.
Of course, there are a multitude of each of these types of exercise. Walking, running, biking, and swimming are just a few examples of aerobic exercise. Sprinting, HIIT (high intensity interval training), and resistance training are a few examples of anaerobic exercise. Yoga, pilates, and good ol’ stretching are all forms of flexibility exercise.
Now there is the question of how much you need of these three exercises, and here is where it get tricky. The amount of exercise you get seems to be dependent on your goals. It is recommended that everyone gets a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days per week for optimal health. It is recommended to aim for 60-90 minutes of aerobic activity five times per week for weight loss. I have had really good results with one hour workouts 5-6 times per week in the past for weight loss and that is my goal now. I started with 40 minutes four days per week at the beginning of January and have been working my way up to my goal.
The consensus on resistance training was a bit more easy to follow. It is recommended that adults get in two to three resistance training sessions per week. But of course there are tons of ways to do resistance training. There’s body weight, like pushups and squats. There’s free weights and weight machines. There’s also resistance bands. Of course, your choice on what you use will depend on what is available to you. I train at home so machines are not an option for me. I do have a kettlebell, resistance bands and free weights but most of my moves use my body weight for resistance, mainly squats, lunges, and pushups. The most confusing part after deciding what type of resistance to do is how much to do. Again, this will be dependent on your personal goals. My goal is to be toned and to that end, I found that doing one set of each exercise for ten repetitions is working really well for me. The only thing is, you have to pick a weight that is heavy enough to allow you to only do ten reps.
Flexibility or stretching is probably the most widely debated of the three in terms of recommended guidelines. I have seen anywhere from two days per week to daily. Personally, I feel better stretching after every workout (I do however, want to get back into daily yoga). The one thing all my research did agree on was, not to stretch cold muscles. I like to do a quick stretch five to ten minutes into my workout to loosen up and then a longer stretch after I’m done.
A few last thoughts on calories out are that from my personal experience, the vast majority of my calories burned daily comes from my daily activities, not my workouts, which is very reassuring since I do miss workouts sometimes. I have an active job which is good for about 3,000-4,000 steps. Cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, doing laundry all add up too. I got a Fitbit for Christmas and the feedback from that has been invaluable. I have found that being inefficient in chores, like bringing one bag of groceries into the house at a time instead of four has really bumped up the calorie burn much easier than adding extra time to my regular workouts. In fact, I was curious as to why obesity rates have steadily risen over the last 60 + years. I mean, no one went to the gym in the 1950’s, and they ate things we consider today to be unhealthy (bacon and eggs anyone?). I found out that people were just more active in general out of necessity. There was usually only one family car and Dad took that to work so Mom and kids would walk to school, walk to the grocers, etc. Leisure time probably looked much different than today as tv was just starting out and there were no personal computers or internet back then. Something to think about at least.
In my next post, I’ll go over how I’ve worked all this calories in and calories out into a personalized game plan for better health and fitness goals. Thanks so much for your visit!