By: John Paul
Did you play a competitive sport when you were an adolescent, a teenager or a young adult? Were you into other activities like skiing, snowboarding, water skiing, cycling, hiking, running for fun or martial arts and yoga? Depending on your level of involvement you know exercising should always be a regular part of life.
When it comes to exercise there is no perfect answer. Some of us disdain exercise of moderate intensity and have to have vigorous intensity. Others feel the exact opposite. And of course, your level of physical activity will vary with your age. While there are myriad studies regarding the benefits and targets of exercise type and length, they are guidelines. Of particular interest is the suggestion that housework or outdoor chores do not meet the standards and should not be counted as exercise or at least not be counted as part of the total minutes one should exercise each week.
That is surprising because my feeling is none of the researchers have ever vacuumed a 3,000 square foot multi-level house (with various floor covering and furniture placement), or operated a pole saw with extension to prune trees or walked behind a lawn mower (even power driven) and muscled it around obstacles.
The point is we all need exercise. No doubt about it, exercise is good for us in so many ways. How much exercise you can get each day, each week can be problematic. The most important thing is that you make it happen. You don’t have to do it all at once and it should be obvious you don’t have to do the same exercise routine each time. How boring! Most people with modest activity have not problem getting in about 30 to 45 minutes a few days a week. The basic guideline for a week is 150 minutes.
Quite frankly what and how you do with that time is up to you. But doing it will and does make a difference.
Even Before House or Yard Work A Bit of Stretching Won’t Hurt
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying”. Friedrich Nietzsche
It makes sense to have a bit of a warmup, take some breaks and stretch when you come to the end of a workout no matter the intensity. All of us do not have time to go to the gym, can’t afford to do so or will be engaged in activity that does entail a floor mat or foam roller or large ball. That does not mean we can’t do a few simple calisthenics or lean against the wall or a tree to do some stretching. Which reminds me, when was the last time you climbed a tree? Did you do that much when you were a kid? Talk about exercise, timing, awareness, caution and precision.
The human body is a remarkable thing. Advances in science have increase our knowledge and awareness of what we need to stay fit. If you have ever practiced Yoga you know how critical breathing is. Before, during and after all exercise remember to breathe. Kind of obvious but along with water you then increase oxygen and hydration to you muscles and other body parts. This helps with focus, awareness and just plain feeling good.
Strength and Resistance Training
It is especially true that as we age, we lose muscle. Hence a bit of strength and resistance training built into your weekly routine is a good idea. Not only will these activities build up muscle and especially muscle tone they will help burn fat and increase bone density. And once again there are many ways to do this in and outside of the gym. Do you know what a Kettle Bell is? How about resistance bands and even simpler things like squeezing a tennis ball? You will be surprised how little these things cost.
Mix It Up with Some Interval Training
Try to think of your daily routine and all that you do. And that includes the unexpected. Naturally, you can look at exercise the same way. Do different things, jog, run, walk, go for a bike ride (stationary or outside) and mix up the pace. And where possible maybe carry some extra weight. Your will be surprised at how handheld weights or a backpack adds to the intensity. This is not a race but a dynamic approach to your health and wellbeing. And don’t overdo. Mix these extras in to your activity and see how your body responds.
The natural world is so important. Fresh air, sunshine (or not) and perhaps someplace with less noise. Just thinking about it elevates my mood. Enough said..
If You Have a Desk Job Get Up and Move Around
Most of us have jobs where we sit for long periods of time. Not all of us have jobs that keeps us moving. Of course, as the workplace evolves so too does the evolution of the workspace. Now there are pneumatic desks that can be raised and lowered. Some have opted to have a treadmill/desk combination. A former boss and mentor used to come and get me once or twice a week and ask me to accompany him around our offices and down into the plant. When I inquired as to what we were doing he said “why should I write memos when I can do management by walking around”. That was sage advice and I have followed it ever since
Exercise Improves Sleep
There is no better tonic than a good night’s rest. We all know the basics. 8 hours of sleep, a bit of a routine (like going to bed around the same time each night), a comfortable bed that meets your body needs and expectations (firm, soft or in between), hydration if you wake up (did you know you lose weight when you sleep because of respiration – a reduction of water in your body from the simple act of breathing) and try to get yourself in a “sleep state of preparedness” before your head hits the pillow.
Balanced Nutrition and Breakfast
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”, Adelle Davis. It is so difficult to have breakfast like a king. The above quote has always puzzled me because my hunger does not get going for several hours after waking up. My idea of a king’s breakfast is to have the omelet cart come by at about 9:30 or 10 AM. And that is after waking up at 6:30 or 7 AM. To be honest only one person comes to mind who wakes up hungry. So, what do we do? For me it is not about the rush to get out the door it is about being hungry. If you are like me keep it simple and quick, perhaps bake some bran muffins (there are lots of great recipes) and take one to work. Breakfast is important because it will help provide more energy for the rest of the day. Proper nutrition throughout each day is even more important. Couple with the other techniques above should help get you and keep you fit.