This is really part two of the equation of good health. Last week, I shared the tried-and-true formula of proper nutrition in my blog called The Truth About Nutrition. Our health requires more than just eating the right foods, though. We must move! Exercise is essential to keeping our heart, lungs, muscles, bones, organs, and brain functioning effectively. I also believe exercise wards off depression and helps with mood swings due to the release of the “happy” hormones. You will sleep more soundly and have more energy if you exercise.
Today, I will share the Truth about Exercise because I still see people doing it wrong. I’ve had countless clients prove that they just don’t understand how it works. It’s called FIT(M): Frequency, Intensity, Time…and I add Mode or your personality type.
Frequency is how often you exercise. Don’t expect great results if you get a walk in every so often. This isn’t enough to give you a health benefit. The recommendation by AFAA (Athletic Fitness Association of America) is 3 to 5 days of cardiovascular exercise a week. The range exists because some people want to just maintain their health while others want to (or need to by doctor’s orders) improve it or lose weight. Outside of that range (6 to 7 days a week) are athletes and those striving to conquer big goals like marathons, triathlons, etc.
Intensity is probably where most people fail. Most do not truly understand that your heart must be challenged in order to get a health benefit. We are designed to breathe in and out, so intensity is what pushes our heart and energy system. Intensity can be gained by incline, pace, or by using massive, big muscles in power moves. Think of a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being doing nothing, and 10 being you are ready to pass out! After a 5 to 10-minute warmup, you strive to get yourself in the 7 to 8 range. Visits to level 9 help push you a bit, but you don’t stay there. If you are a fan of heart rate monitors and numbers, this is 55 to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate.
A note about heart rate charts: The research to create the charts in gyms is OLD! It is based upon 20-year-old males. Okay, I am neither! They are just a guideline. The most important thing is to know how YOU feel. Here’s what I use: If I can say Supercalafragalisticexpealodoshish in one breath, I am not in my exercise zone. I need to work harder! If I can hardly say a few letters, then I need to take it down a notch. You should have to take several breaths but can still talk.
Another note: If you can read or talk on your cell phone while exercising, you are wasting your time. You are not getting the intensity you need to burn fat!
Time is how long you exercise. If you exercise at a level 10, but it is only for a minute, that ultimately isn’t going to get the results you seek. Yes, interval training is an outstanding way to get fit, but you have to put the time in. AFAA suggests at 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, and the American Heart Association (AHA) encourages one full hour at a time. All exercise is not created equal. Jumping rope for 10 minutes is equivalent to running for 50 (yes that is 5-0) minutes! Why? The intensity is greater.
Mode is your personality style or as I call it Fitness Individuality Trail (FIT) in my book Finally FIT: Customize Fitness to Your Personality Type. You are either Fast, Fun, Friendly or Factual. You can watch my explanation on my You Tube Channel: TotalYou1 or get the book. The bottom line is it isn’t a one-size-fits all. We are each made different, and how you exercise matters! If what you are doing isn’t working, you are either A) Not at the right intensity or B) Not fitting your personality type.
Don’t forget to include resistance training into your routine. Unless you have aggressive goals, most of us benefit from two days of weight training a week. You can use exercise bands, hand-held weights, machines, The Total Gym, Bow Flex or any number of tools. They key is to challenge your muscles so that they increase your bone density. Here’s some advice: If you desire to build up muscle, then you will want to lift weights before your cardio. If, however, you wish to be lean yet strong, get your cardio in first then weights. The difference is energy. Whatever you do first, you will do best.
Be sure to get your entire body (upper, lower, torso/abs/back, and obliques) and then stretch it all out. Again, I have some great videos on my You Tube Channel that act as a personal trainer for you. Should you want to take it to the next level, give me a call! We can do in-person, private training session or Zoom fitness coaching. I’m here to help YOU get and stay fit at any age. A great resource on how to exercise based upon your age and stage of life is Fit Over 50.