So, how much exercise is TOO MUCH? Possibly less than you think.
Years ago, we were all encouraged to spend at least 30 mins a day doing some kind of exercise. If you wanted to lose weight, the prevailing wisdom was the more exercise the better.
However, new research is coming to light that show hours spent sweating it out in the gym is entirely unnecessary. Unless of course you flipping love it, then fill your boots.
But if you’re pressed for time, confused about how you should be spending it when you are at the gym, or dreading your 1-hour Spin class – then read on.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
It’s strong, hard and fast. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s intervals of high intensity work interspersed with intervals of rest.
You pick an activity that elevates your heart rate quickly – like sprinting, burpees, or skipping rope – and go FLAT OUT. That’s the key here. No holding back. You only have to sprint for 20 seconds, but let me assure you – it’ll be the longest 20 seconds of your life. Have a break for 10 seconds and sprint again. Do that 8 times in total (that’s only 4 minutes people!) and you have yourself a helluva workout.
Because you’re working at or close to your Maximum Heart Rate, your body uses its anaerobic system for fuel, which is good for fat loss. Also, it quickly builds cardio-vascular endurance, which is great for heart health.
For both of these reasons, HIIT wins over the slow-and-steady aerobic exercise traditionally touted for weight loss and cardio fitness. Make sure however, that your body is well warmed up and prepared for this of exercise.
Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is just a fancy way of describing movement that isn’t intended exercise. This is where movement becomes fun!
Lots of studies are showing that sitting is killing us. And rather than undoing all the damage with a 1 hour stint in the gym, incorporating more NEAT into your day is more effective.
While you’re at work, think walking meetings, lunchtime Frisbee, regular stretching, standing desks, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Interrupt sitting as much as you can.
On the weekends try activities like hula hooping (my personal fave), rollerskating, kayaking, waterskiing, dancing while you cook or clean, mini golf, barefoot bowls or croquet. The possibilities are endless when you turn movement into play!
If you REALLY want to have fun with performing the “
smallest possible dose” of exercise – then play the game SuperBetter. An iPhone app and computer game that helps you build physical, mental, emotional and social resilience to improve your health.
Why do you do what you do? What purpose does your exercise serve? Once you get crystal clear about that – you can more easily understand the training requirements and align your effort to the outcome. Exercise regimes and timing will differ vastly dependent on what intention you have.
Do you want to run a marathon?
Then train as though you’re running a marathon.
Do you want to rock climb?
Then train your muscles so you can rock climb.
Do you want to be able to keep up with your kids?
Then play more with your kids.
Ah, you knew it was gonna come back to this, didn’t you?! At the end of the day, your exercise regime has to fit you and your body in a kind, nurturing way.
Some people absolutely LOVE to work hard. Like wipe-the-floor-with-them hard. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
There are people who LOVE to go to the gym every single day. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But if there is any duty, heavy sense of obligation, or fear around your workout – then any benefits of exercise are going to be outweighed by the detrimental effects of stress.
Are you forcing yourself to the gym every day because you’re terrified of ballooning into a big fat pig? Does the idea of missing a session really stress you out? Are you pushing yourself to exhaustion and ignoring injuries in your workouts because you’re trying to ‘whip yourself into shape’?
Then whoa there, tiger. Ease up.
Trust me. I’ve been there too. Sadly, it didn’t make me fit and strong. What it made me was crazy and miserable.
Kindness to yourself and your body is all about understanding what you need and giving yourself permission to do it.
So, kindness may mean giving up running because it’s killing your back and taking that “wussy” Pilates class (ah, that would be me). Kindness may mean giving yoga a go, instead of your usual boxing class, to help improve flexibility and mindfulness. Kindness may even mean getting off the couch, lacing up your joggers and running out the door.