T-minus two weeks until Thanksgiving. Can you believe it? Let’s collectively not wait until after the ever-lengthening holiday season to reboot fitness goals! Here’s a look at the bigger picture.
How can you tell if it is time for a fitness reboot?
If boredom sets in during the regular fitness routine, followed by apathy towards exercise in general, it’s definitely time for a fitness tune up! If you avoid outings or leisure time that involves physical activity –hiking, biking, bowling, beach play, recreation league softball even– for fear of sweating and breathing hard or you avoid form revealing workout clothes, that tune up needs to come sooner than later. The mental stress and self-deprication associated with “not working out enough (or at all)” shouldn’t supersede the physical stress that a normal body endures during exercise. Avoiding friends and family who’ve seen your “normal” for fear that they will comment, critique and judge “the new you,” make the tune up a priority. Altering lifestyle routine(s) and personal relationships instead of changing fitness routines is a sign that you are no longer “living” and simply existing. Tune up!
How do you pick a fitness routine that works for you?
It’s important, especially as you age, to approach exercise and wellness in a balanced manner. This means a healthy combination of nutrition, hydration, cardio, resistance training, stretching and core work, both abdominals and lower back. In my experience, many folks’ attempts at “tune ups” involve too much too soon. A better exercise goal is to design a program that is manageable, sustainable and changes every four weeks to ensure that the body does not become too accustomed to the work and plateau.
Depending on the intensity of workouts, the American Heart Association advises working out for at least 30 mins, 5 days per week. Remember though, the greater the intensity, the shorter the required duration and frequency per week. Understanding typical busy working-adult lives, I usually advise that clients workout at least three times per week emphasizing different modalities each day (resistance, stretching, cardio) to keep the body fresh and mind engaged.
Why, besides “looking good,” is exercise important?
Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, more than all cancers combined, and it is both preventable and reversible through commitment to exercise and healthy diet. For many, this means simply engaging in aerobic activities like walking and jogging. Resistance training is often neglected but it should be brought to the forefront, especially for women as they often suffer from bone density issues as well. Also, training fast twitch muscle fibers will help people be more reactive in daily life — avoiding falls, being more responsive, etc.
What’s more exciting is the fact that physicality stimulates drive, innovation and creativity! This is especially important in an ever-changing and increasingly competitive society. Sure, the black dress or tailored blazer may fit better but being more connected with one’s body is the true measure of success and a gift to oneself.
What can you do to start your fitness reboot, right now?
The awesome thing about exercise that many people forget is that is doesn’t have to be punishment! In fact, it can involve play and even fun. Dancing, playing with your kids in the backyard, frolicking with your pet at the dog park, joining a recreational kickball league, planning a “heart hour” with friends. What’s more, exercise bouts add up! What does this mean? Interstitial moments of physical activity during a busy day add up and create the same value as sustained workouts. 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, 12 minutes later!
I encourage clients to curate their own workouts in nontraditional places and with non-traditional exercise equipment when they can’t make it to the gym. Often times these workouts don’t require any equipment and minimal space is needed. At work, setting an alarm for every hour and standing up from the desk to do 15 squats and arm circles. In the kitchen, doing overhead presses with the fruit bowl (Kitchen Workout), while tackling mountains of laundry using the dryers edge as a push-up platform (Laundromat Workout) and even while commuting to work in the city center (Subway Workout).
Finally, I recommend note taking and data analysis. What did you eat — snap a photo with your smart device. You know that you were planning to post on instagram anyway! Keep record of your workouts in a notebook or with tracking software. Analytics will keep you on track, help with goal setting strategies and prove that the commitment to self was worth it!Turn up and Tune up, Andia