YOU CAN NOT ACHIEVE OPTIMAL HEALTH WITHOUT EXERCISE…the right kind of exercise will not only give you visible results but will help you improve your health and will also help you to be efficient with your time.
I have been fascinated with exercise since I was in 6th grade. For my 6th grade science project I did a 6 week comparison to see which worked better out of the “ab isolator” and the “ab roller”. I just loved to see what the body was capable of. Fast forward a few years…I earned my undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology and started working as a personal trainer. I was training for a body building competition and injured my knees to the point that I wasn’t able to run and even biking or much walking wasn’t comfortable. I tried everything from medications (it was a LONG time ago), several specialists, rest and physical therapy…nothing even helped take the edge off. Thankfully, I met a naturopathic doctor…he did some testing and helped me change my diet. Much to my surprise, my knees started improving immensely! That was several years ago. I run regularly now with NO PAIN! That is what inspired me to become a naturopathic dr. I was blown away that food could have such a profound effect.
That’s just a small piece of my story…but here’s the real take-away for you…the most effective exercise is going to include a healthy diet and lifestyle.
The many BENEFITS of exercise…
Exercise increases: (SO much more than just burning calories)
- Bone density -Joan Vernikos, NASA scientist did a study…(From age 20 you lose about 1% of bone density/year…unless you’re fighting it)…in space, you lose about 1.5%/month…they found that in space, it simulates accelerated aging because of the lack of gravity, muscles aren’t used at all…so how could that be studied here on earth? A sedentary lifestyle came pretty close…laying around all day, you lose bone density faster…less movement = accelerated aging and bone loss
- Quality of sleep
- Decreases fat- 10 lbs. of fat=an additional 7 miles of blood vessels that the heart needs to pump through
- Immune function
- Healing- (I see this with clients!…4 months vs. 6 -8 weeks)…wound and infections- according to the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology,exercise is proven to boost immune function and produce anti-inflammatory effects within the body. This is due to the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines that are produced during a workout, which are essentially small proteins that assist in cell signaling to help build and repair muscle tissue.
- Researchers from Ohio State University found that exercisers heal about 25% faster than non-exercisers
- Digestion and elimination
- Insulin sensitivity
- Lean muscle mass- studies have shown that exercise during space/bed rest was useful but rarely more than 50% effective in terms of keep muscle and bone from wasting…in other words the benefits of exercise can’t keep up with trouble created by bed rest. (Major problem in hospitals keeping patients moving)
- Human growth hormone- (anti-aging)
- Brain regeneration
- Detoxifies the skin
- Lymphatic movement- Lymphatic system does’t have a pump…you have about twice the lymphatic fluid than blood…toxins are collected by lymphatic fluid…ONLY when you exercise
- Productivity- International journal of workplace health mgmt. study showed that:
•79 percent reported improved mental and interpersonal performance in exercise days
- 72 percent had improved time management on exercise days compared to non-exercise days
•74 percent said they managed their workload better
•Those who exercised regularly also reported feeling more than 40 percent more “motivated to work” and scored more than 20 percent higher for concentration and finishing work on time
- Stress and anxiety
- Blood pressure
- Minor symptoms such as PMS, headaches, tension, etc
- Blood sugar
- Risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and most other diseases
So now you understand that exercise is SO much more than just burning calories)…It’s bigger than just about weight loss!
What’s the difference between physical activity and exercise? They are both important and needed but one won’t take the place of the other.
Exercise is a specific bout of time where you are either working specific muscles groups (weight lifting) or raising your heart rate (cardio)…or both.
Physical activity is more related to movement doing daily tasks. (laundry, gardening, walking to the car, picking up after toddlers, etc)
Even if you exercise daily, if you sit for 8 or more hours/day, the benefits of your exercise won’t be enough to keep up with the detriments of being sedentary. REMEMBER the NASA study? Bed rest is what was used to simulate the effect of having no gravity. We were created to move!
When NOT to exercise…
(Physical activity is always good)…understand the difference between tired (not enough sleep) and “exhausted” or sick. Severe adrenal exhaustion is a good time to take a break (of course while you are supporting the adrenal glands).
How much is too much?
Our bodies weren’t created to sit all day but…How much is too much?
Signs that you’re exercising too much would include:
You feel tired instead of energized afterward
Your legs feel heavy no matter how much you stretch
You get sick easily
You have major sleep issues (regularly)
What to do? Ideally be tested to see what your specific needs are but in general, TONS more minerals, calories, more starch from whole food (sweet potatoes, beans and brown rice, etc), protein…get labs to make sure you’re not anemic, protein deficient or having low hemoglobin
How much is enough? (depends on your goals)…if you’re wanting to get shredded, you will need to do a different routine than if you want to “stay in the shape” you’re in…
In general, 5-6 days/week for 30-60 min. is a great plan…again though, this will vary depending on your goals, intensity level, etc
What is the most effective type of exercise? Must do all 3 types (strength, cardio and flexibility/therapeutic)
- Cardio-Choose what you love…
- most powerful is HIIT training- 25 min. 2-4 times per week
- Run, bike, swim, etc
- Time effective
- Works the heart AND maximal calorie burn
- Lots of cardio doesn’t even work the heart muscle (then its not cardio)…if you can walk for hours and it doesn’t get your heart rate up for example, it’s not working your heart!
- Weight/resistance– heavy, should cause muscle fatigue/burn …this doesn’t even have to require weights as body weight workouts can be extremely effective
- Need to go beyond comfortable
- Alternate muscle groups so you don’t work the same parts each day
- Muscle burns more than fat/day at rest so more muscle= increased metabolic burn
- Need to work ALL muscles to minimize muscle imbalances (chest and back/shoulders, abs/low back, quads and hamstrings, etc)
- Ideal to do things that incorporate some bilateral movement (one leg/arm at a time) and balance
- Muscles respond best if you vary the way you stress them so mix up your workout every so often
- Strong muscles are less likely to incur injury
- Flexibility/therapeutic– stretching
- Only stretch warm muscles
- Rolling (with a foam roller) works better than stretching
- Breathing is key (or muscles won’t relax)
- Sports massage can help
- Prevents injuries
Best time of day to exercise for best results?
Best time is whenever you will DO IT…I like mornings but do whenever works for you…empty stomach is ideal for most people to burn more stored fat. Just avoid exercising a few hours before bed.
What exercise can I do if I have trouble with my back, knees, hips, etc?
Anything that doesn’t use those parts- No excuses! Of course this is while you are rehabbing the injured area.
What constitutes a REST day and how many do I need each week?
Rest is when you don’t exercise…other than perhaps some flexibility/therapy work…one day per week is usually good. Physical activity is still good on those days! ***A great day for extra therapies (epsom salt bath, sauna, etc)
How can I prepare the body for exercise and set myself up to get this most out of my exercise session?
- Sleep…go to bed early (this is a critical part of preparing for the next day)
- Hydrate the day before with water, lemon water and/or salt water
- HCL– destroys lactic acid (take 2 capsules before you workout with water)
- Eat foods that give life/energy rather than require lots of it
- Mineral rich (greens, grasses, sprouts and algae)
- Pink Salt
- Reduce oils- they jam the liver and gallbladder and get stuck in the connective tissues throughout the body causing more stiffness
What gets depleted when I exercise?
Minerals are burned up, water is lost, muscle is broken down, lactic acid builds up, it is a stress to the body (a healthy one as long as you know how to recover properly)
How can I recover quickly from exercise?
- Roll and stretch
- Cold baths after workouts
- Add Pink Salt to your water
- Epsom salt baths
- Green smoothies
- Protein (not equal to meat)…plants have protein, YOU DON’T need it unless you’re breaking down muscle with intense exercise OR if you have infections
What steps can I take to reduce injury? (Prepare properly and therapies such as rolling, stretching, massage, etc)
What can I do to STAY motivated?
- Change your program often (for me, it’s about 3 weeks but change it as often as you need to in order to keep having fun with it!)
- Get an exercise friend (A FRIEND IS SOMEONE WHO WILL TELL YOU THE TRUTH AND LOVES YOU ENOUGH TO NOT LET YOU DO THINGS THAT SABOTAGE YOUR GOALS…at least not without resistance…(even if its only 1-2 days/week…or get a few or a group)
- Use a personal trainer or group fitness instructor
- Get tested or self test (measurements, body fat %, wall sit-timed, plank-timed, how many pushups, etc)
- Take before and after pics
- Set a goal, plan and reward
- Do what you love most of the time, but on occasion do something really different (Run on a hill, track or forest…take a class…run backwards…stairs in a hotel/hospital if you’re out etc)
- Plan to deal with excuses ahead of time and (what will you do if you’re tired, it’s raining, you miss a workout, you have a 5 am flight to catch, etc)
- Get a tracker (for your bike, GPS for running…set your personal best time goals…you can even use a stop watch and see how long a certain distance takes, then re-check it every few weeks to see how you’ve improved)
- STAND UP APP…this is a free app that is great to help you not sit for long periods of time. Every time it goes off, stand up and move for 1 minute.
- Remember that habits take time to change (not just 21 days)…so for the first 2 months, set up extra support
I KNOW that you can reach new levels of health and fitness…greater than you’d ever imagined. No matter where you are starting, take the next step today!