When it comes to exercise, you need to start thinking outside the box jump
For so long, the fitness industry led us to believe that some was good and more was better. That to get better results, we had to train harder, for longer and more often. Oh and usually cut calories as well. And then when that stopped working, back to more exercise/fewer calories.
It can be hard to distance ourselves from that mentality and even harder to trust that we don’t need to constantly exercise until we are completely drained for us to see the results we want.
In truth, we need a mixture of movement types and intensities and sometimes we need more of one than another. HIIT workouts can be incredibly beneficial but for most of us, it can be challenging to perform movements that quickly while maintaining perfect form. Lifting weights is important for all of us to build quality bone mass and density and to improve muscle mass but often, weight lifting involves mostly what we call ‘global mobiliser’ muscles – think bigger muscles that move joints like the bicep/tricep that flex and extend the elbow or quadriceps and hamstrings that flex and extend the knee and hip, and doesn’t focus so much on the smaller ‘local stabiliser’ muscles like the rotator cuff that helps to keep our shoulder joint stable. We need to stress our heart and lungs to improve our cardiovascular fitness but most of us don’t need to run 10 miles a day. You know we think Pilates is one of the most beneficial kinds of exercise there is, working big and small muscles, developing a balanced body, strong from the core out with lots of fluid, flexible movement, but for total health, we still need some cardio training and to lift heavy things and put them back down! An ideal week or month or year would include all of these types of movement, sometimes focusing on one more than another, depending on what we enjoy and what we need. It is important that what you enjoy comes first because at the end of the day, the best kind of exercise for you is the kind you will actually do and commit to doing and you are are more likely to do something that you like.
For those of you who say you don’t like any type of exercise, here’s some tough love – that’s just your tough! Just because we are saying you don’t need to kill yourself with exercise, doesn’t give you a free couch pass. Exercise is like vegetables – you NEED it, it’s a non-negotiable, it is not an optional extra if you want to be healthy and well. To you, I suggest finding an environment you like, a studio or gym where the people, both clients and trainers, are people you like and want to be around. Or maybe a very luxe set up in a studio that looks more like a spa than a gym. Or maybe you just want to walk the dog and every once in a while, chase the dog for the ball you threw for him!
The most important thing to bear in mind is that we do not need to train hard every day. You do not need to exercise your body into submission. Food and exercise is not a transactional relationship. You do not need to earn your food by ‘exercising off’ the calories first. Just like a professional athlete has an off season and a game season, we shouldn’t underestimate the need to recover well. However, unlike a professional athlete, you do not constantly need to push your body to its absolute limit; by all means challenge yourself, push yourself, surprise yourself. But also understand that you are not preparing for the Olympics or the World Cup.
So the next time you’re not feeling the box jumps, leap frog that box to a Pilates class, a yoga class, a walk or an early night! Exercise because you respect and value your body and know you are worth the health benefits quality exercise brings. Know that it is ok to take a day or a week or a month off and that it won’t ‘undo’ all your efforts. Know that you body gets stronger in the recovery phase. Know that you deserve the exercise but you also deserve the rest. (Oh and do Pilates, it very is the bee all and end all!)