During January, many of us resolve to incorporate more physical activity into our lives. While this can be an excellent resolution, how do we navigate the complex world of exercise?
How do you know what type of exercise you need? And how do you get it (realistically)?
There are three major categories of physical activity.
1. Cardiovascular training
Cardio (aka endurance) is essential for, well, your cardiovascular health. It helps keep your heart and your respiratory system strong. There are many ways to train your heart; most types fall into LISS or HIIT.
LISS stands for Low-Intensity Steady-State, which means that you are training at a moderate pace for an extended period. For example, you can take a long walk, swim, jog, or dance. LISS is the best option to maintain a healthy heart at any fitness level.
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, which means you exercise with lots of effort for short periods. You can follow various HIIT ratios; 1:2 is a popular schedule, as you rest twice as long as you work (e.g. 30 seconds running, 60 seconds walking). HIIT is the best cardio for weight loss because you use a lot of energy in a short amount of time.
2. Strength training
Also known as resistance training, strength training is vital for bone health and staying strong as we age. It also helps with balance! You can strength train with your bodyweight or with additional weights (i.e. weight training).
Training with your bodyweight is a great way to build your strength from the ground up. Think pushups, squats, or lunges. It’s an excellent way to get to know your body and how it moves. Plus, using your own bodyweight to train is convenient because you don’t need to purchase special equipment or even a gym membership.
Once you’ve developed a solid foundation of proper alignment in bodyweight exercises, try weight training with dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, etc. To benefit from extra resistance, you don’t have to turn into Schwarzenegger or The Rock. Add a little here and there to support your muscle growth/maintenance and make everyday movements effortless.
Flexibility is integral to your range of motion. Stretching regularly can also reduce pain and reduce the chance of injury.
Dynamic stretching is best for warmups. Try shoulder rolls, hip rotations, and leg swings. These movements prepare your body for your upcoming activity.
Static stretching, like yin yoga, is best for cooling down. You hold one position and take a few deep breaths to lengthen your muscles.
Try to incorporate each category of activity into your weekly routine. Some activities combine two or three of these categories into one exercise. A vinyasa yoga class, for example, can include LISS, bodyweight training, and stretching. Consider what you need for your body and, most importantly, what you enjoy. If it’s fun, you’re more likely to do it!
Here are a few ways you can gradually increase your activity level on a daily basis:
- take the stairs
- park far away
- stretch while watching a movie
- march in place when waiting for your kettle to boil
Remember that your safety and well-being is the most critical component of your exercise routine. When done correctly, physical activity has terrific benefits and can be fun! When done improperly, you risk hurting yourself.
Don’t know where to start? You can book a free consultation with me here. As your health coach, I can help you create a workout plan designed for your needs.