Too much or not enough?

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I’m talking about exercise here!
In a world that is so fast paced and with what some might say is too much information at our fingertips, there can be lots of conflicting information when it comes to health and fitness. Today I am going to focus on the topic of exercise as there are lots of different views on how much we should be doing to get the body we desire and take care of ourselves.

Eat less, exercise more?

The school of thought that most people are familiar with is that if we are trying to lose weight we should eat less and exercise more.

Up until recently, I was very much in the camp that believed just that.  When I started my ‘get my body back’ regime after having my two mini bees, I exercised as much as could and reduced my food intake. I also eliminated as much heavily processed food as I could (with the exception of cake!) It worked – I slimmed down to a size I never thought possible and I felt so good about myself. I’d achieved the impossible and it even led me to a career change!

The only thing about reaching my goal was that I then felt I couldn’t ‘come off the hammer’. I thought that I would have to increase the amount of exercise I was doing to keep my body how I wanted it.

However, I’ve attended some interesting courses and seminars and my views are starting to change.

It’s all about balance… and movement

Much of the focus of what I have been learning is about getting our health and fitness balanced.  We need restorative exercise/movement as much as we need to exercise. Working out as hard as we can and as often as we can, can have a detrimental effect on our body.

So now you’re thinking “What should I be doing and how often?”

We want to be moving as much as we can. When I say moving I don’t mean exercise, but moving about throughout the day.  Doing an exercise class and thinking “Great I can sit down for the rest of the day” is not the way forward I’m afraid.

We want to avoid sitting down for periods of longer than an hour because it’s bad for our blood circulation, especially in our legs.

Walking is a fantastic way to incorporate more movement into your day and it doesn’t have to be a crazy fast power walk, a nice leisurely stroll is perfect.  Aim for an hour of walking/movement a day. It doesn’t have to be in one go, you can break it down into smaller chunks throughout the day.
TIP: If you think you sit down for longer than hour or are sat in an office during the day, set an alarm to go off every hour and then get up and move about. This will help keep your blood circulating and help you refocus on what you are doing. Yes, movement is also good for the brain, who knew?!

You can get activity trackers to help with this. My Polar watch bleeps at me if I have been sat down for more than hour and issues inactivity stamps if I don’t get up move.

You also want to include some restorative activity into your week. Something like stretching, yoga or Pilates-style exercises at least once a week. This will help with your flexibility and mobility. It can also calm your mind which will in turn have a positive impact on your everyday life. Unfortunately, pre/ post stretching doesn’t count unfortunately.

VeraFlow – caring for both body and mind

You may be aware that VeraFlow is returning to the Bee Fun Fitness timetable.  You might not think you need that time out to care for your body and mind, but one thing I have learnt recently is how important rest and restorative activity are.  Taking some time out from a constantly whirring brain to be ‘in the  here and now’ is so good for us.
TIP: Practice mindfulness/meditation every day. There are apps such as Headspace to get you started and it can be done anywhere.

So, how much exercise is good for us?

So, you are moving more, working on your flexibility and mobility, now it’s time to add in the exercise.  Depending on your fitness level, let’s talk beginner/intermediate fitness level.  Between two and four workouts a week is about right.  Ideally you want to incorporate workouts that use some form of resistance training, cardio and some endurance. Try to avoid sticking to just one of those types of exercise as each have vital effects on the body for overall health and fitness.

If you are keen to see and feel your fitness, you should aim to exercise to the point where you get out of breath, you feel hot/sweat and your muscles burn or feel heavy. If you achieve this then you’ll know that you are burning fat and toning muscle.
TIP: If like me you don’t like exercising alone, find classes that incorporate resistance training, cardio & endurance. Ask what type of exercise each class involves so you know you will work all areas of fitness.

In summary…

To recap in three simple steps:

1. Every day should have movement such as leisurely walking, housework, general moving about.  Rest days can include these activities. Avoid sitting for more than an hour at a time.

  1. At least once a week, on top of pre/ post workout mobility and stretching, complete a session of stretching, VeraFlow or yoga/Pilates style activity that works on relaxing the body and mind.
    When it comes to flexibility and mobility the more you can do the better.
  2. Complete between two and four workouts per week depending on your fitness. When working out to improve your fitness you want to get breathless, feel hot/sweat, feel muscle burn and heaviness. There should be a challenging element to your workout if you want to see and feel results. Think about when doing press ups and you reach the point where you cannot push your body up anymore.

    You might now be wondering how to fit this around your kids, work and all other commitments. My advice is to start slow and keep it simple. Look at your schedule and work out where would be best to fit things in:

  • Could you get up 10 minutes earlier to do some stretching or meditation?
  • If you have a hoop, you could hoop for 10 minutes?
  • Could you plan a walk with your family?
  • When at work could you go for a walk in your lunch break or coffee breaks?
  • If you have school aged children could you walk to school rather than drive? Or if driving is your only option, you may consider parking a street or two away from school and walking the rest of the way?

I hope you have found this helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please pop them below.

I believe that if you make one small change at a time, before you know you’ll be seeing amazing results. And remember, you don’t need to work out hard every day to get a healthy body!

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