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walking 2

Recently, I came across a post by a blogger that I occasionally follow indicating that to lose weight you must always exercise intensely. He claims that, even if you are overweight, the only way to lose a few pounds is to go hard and harder. He even suggested that walking was a waste of time.

Wow.

I am of the school that you must first find an exercise you love to do. That gives you a better than average chance that working out will become as habit-forming as brushing your teeth.
Second, your focus should be on maintaining a healthy lifestyle which includes eating as clean as possible.
The rest (weight loss, intensity and maybe even falling in love with other exercises) will come in its own good time.

As I was scrolling through the comments of this blogger’s post, I came across someone who questioned his routine. He indicated that if he missed exercising two days in a row, he would make up for it by heading outside for a twenty minute jog.  Just how intense was that twenty minutes? Did he run a mile, two, three or more miles?

Our perception of intensity can differ.  Over time your level of intensity should increase without negative side effects.  Five years ago, I couldn’t work out the way I do today without risking injury. It would have been too taxing on my body and my mind.
Consistent high impact, high intensity exercise without proper rest can result in joint and overuse injuries. These injuries are classic signs of overtraining.

Other symptoms of overtraining include:
– increased number of minor injuries, muscle strains
– decline in physical performance
– muscle and joint tenderness
– loss of muscle strength and coordination
– decreased appetite, weight loss
– nausea
– restless sleep
– elevated resting heart rate and elevated blood pressure
– apathy, depression and irritability
– lower exercise motivation
– suppressed immune function

Ideally, your exercise regimen should include a combination of hard, moderate and easy training. Allow plenty of time to rest so your body has a chance to recover. It is helpful to periodically (weekly, monthly or quarterly) change the type of exercise you perform. For example, incorporate swimming in the summer, jogging in the fall, skiing in the winter, rowing in the spring. These changes help with plateauing and keeps exercise from becoming boring.

If you are wondering what my current routine consists of, here’s what my September looked like:

weekly – 6 days, for three weeks
4-5 days spinning (intense, hour-long)
1 -2 days variation of running, stairmaster, rowing, power yoga, amt or arc trainer machine (easy to moderate, hour-long). Sometimes I choose just one of these exercises and other times I split my routine into two consecutive 30 minute sessions.
6 days of weight resistance (very focused and intense, hour-long )
4th week, 6 days (this is my rest week)
3 days core strengthening exercises (hour-long)
2 days of some form of cardio (hour-long)
1 day of yoga (hour and one-half)

6 – 8 hours of sleep every night.

What was my routine when I began to exercise many years ago and which contributed to a forty-five pound weight loss?

I WALKED.

What is your favorite exercise? Please leave a comment…

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