Part of the 12 Aspects of Successful Weight Loss.
It’ll be no surprise to hear that I’m a massive believer in exercise. However, as I tell all my clients, it needs to be a consistent and realistic part of your life. It’s far better to commit to 20 minutes of cardio twice a week for the long-term, than join a gym and go every day for a month before the novelty wears off.
Exercise is for so much more than weight loss too – it’s proven to help people be happier. When we are under pressure, it’s all too easy to grab the biscuits, wine or tobacco and snuggle under the duvet with a box-set. But, a more conscious choice could do your body and mind the world of good.
So why is exercise good for you?
Amongst other things, exercise will:
- Increases your energy levels and oxygenate your body
- Give you a sense of accomplishment
- Improve your mood and stimulate your mind
- Over time, it changes your physical appearance
- It strengthens your muscles, heart and lungs
- Improves sleep patterns
- Can lower anxiety and even depression
- It boosts your immune system and detoxifies your body
- Gives a release of endorphins
- Improves memory and brain function
Every little helps!
The key to health is to remain as active as possible, all day long, but that doesn’t mean you train like an athlete for hours every day. It simply means, whenever you have a chance to move and stretch your body in the course of going about your daily activities at work, home and play, then do it! Everything from standing up, to reaching for an item on a tall shelf, to weeding in your garden and walking from one room to another, taking the stairs instead of the lift and even doing dishes count.
In short, it’s physical movement that helps to promote the health benefits by the interaction your body gets with gravity.
Walking is a great way to start – it’s free, it’s easy and there is so much beautiful space in England. Take the opportunity to wrap up warm (since it’s now November – brrrr!) and enjoy the outside whilst doing something positive for yourself.
Exercise, whatever it is, needs to be fun and enjoyable or your simply won’t continue with it. Learn to be kind to yourself and start with small manageable goals.
What exercise is right for you?
The answer to this depends on your goals. If you want to improve your endurance then do cardio exercises, but if your goal is to lose weight and be leaner, then do the strength exercises first. If your goal is to improve your general fitness then the most effective way to exercise is to make time for both training styles and do them in the same session: strength followed by cardio or vice versa.
To maximize calorie and fat burn, while also building muscle, make your strength sessions more metabolically challenging with high-intensity interval training. These efforts force your body to expend more energy (burn more calories) in less time. The idea behind metabolic strength sessions is simple: by making small tweaks to rest time, intensity, reps, sets and time under tension, you force your body to use different energy pathways, therefore increasing metabolic demand and expending more energy. This often translates to greater weight loss and an increase in lean muscle.
Here’s an example of a metabolic strength circuit you can try once a week, varying the rest time between exercises as noted below.
Complete 10 reps of each exercise. Repeat the sequence 2–3 times total.
Modify the exercises as necessary — for example, substitute a wall-assisted push-up or a push-up with bent knees.
- A squat with shoulder press
- Lunge with bicep curl
- Star Jump
- Push Up
- Dumbbell Rows
- Jumping Jacks
- Shoulder Plank
- Lateral Raise
- High Knees
Week 1: 30 seconds rest between each exercise
Week 2: 15 seconds rest between each exercise
Week 3: 60 seconds rest after you complete all of the exercises in the entire set
Please also note that you can change the number of reps, number of sets, intensity and weight you use (or don’t use) to make the workout more or less challenging. And, you can modify each exercise as necessary to suit your current level of fitness, strength and mobility. These types of workouts are designed to be challenging, but be sure to use caution, particularly if you’re new to this type of exercise. If in any doubt, consult your doctor before you start any fitness programme.
Recovery is important to make sure you’re making the most of your efforts, and can do it all again next week. Ensure you have adequate warm up and cool down time before and after each exercise session.
- Grab your diary and make an appointment with yourself to go for a 20 minute walk twice in the coming week, then three times the week after.
- Set aside time to try the Strength Circuit above.
- Join the conversation – comment below and let me know how you get on 🙂