Pink Kettle bell with blue and pink sneakers behind it

Over the past 40,000 years, our bodies have evolved by being physically active.  It was necessary to move for survival’s sake – to source food, find shelter, move as the seasons change, and to evade predators.  Over time our bodies have developed a physiological need to move at low levels of exertion for several hours per day, with an occasional burst of energy.

So not only is exercise beneficial for our health; it’s an essential requirement for health.  We cannot opt out without serious consequences.

There are plenty of people out there exercising, which is great, but many simply find what they enjoy and just do that.  They may run, cycle, row, practice yoga, power walk, etc. Whilst there are many benefits of pursuing these activities individually, as stand-alone exercises they don’t produce a truly fit person.   Take a weight lifter for example…. can they run?  Are you a cyclist…. how’s your flexibility?  If your goal is to have optimal fitness then you must continually vary your training and do small bits of everything…. fast!

So how much exercise should we be doing?  You really need at least 30-60 minutes every single day.

The key to your success is in your planning.  Set aside the time, plan your exercise to ensure your keep it varied… and then smash it out!  Make intensity a priority if you want to save time and get the best results.  Research indicates that the most effective fitness regimes are short interval/high intensity programs.  Although you should constantly vary the type of exercise, the bulk of your training should include workouts focusing on short, intense bursts.

Stage 1:  You are unsure of how or where to begin, haven’t been exercising, consistently out of shape/overweight, afraid of injury (or recovering from illness or injury) and/or social stigmatism.

  • Walk around the block every day for a week.  Then increase to twice around the block.  Then twice around the block with the aim of increasing your time.
  • Do standing wall push ups and free-standing squatting motions.
  • Find some stairs or hills to climb.  Start by walking them, then increase the repetitions.  Try skipping stairs.  Aim to increase your time.
  • Move on to Stage 2.

Stage 2:  You are reasonably fit, not overweight, but only work out 2-4 days per week.

  • Map out an exercise plan to ensure you will exercise each day.  You may like to join a gym or other exercise facility, or buy a bike so you can start cycling.  After you have established your daily exercise routine, increase the intensity by:
    • Timing yourself
    • Increasing weights, speeds, inclines, etc.
    • Try personal training to expand your exercise routine, increase your knowledge or improve your technique.
    • Consider working out with a friend or group, e.g. a class at the local gym.  You’ll do more, do it faster, you’ll be held accountable, and you’ll have much more fun!

Stage 3:  You’re in an elite group – you’re fit!  So what now?  Get fitter, of course!

  • Have you considered joining a CrossFit type facility?  Check out some YouTube videos of kettle bell workouts, CrossFit workouts, etc.  You’ll be inspired to find different ways to get in even better shape.
  • Buy equipment for home use for the days you can’t make it to the gym.
  • Improve your efficiency by changing up your routine.  Sometimes you can alter the intensity simply by changing the day you do a particular activity, changing the sequence of exercises, fitting the same workout into a shorter duration, etc.

You should aim for 80-90% of your target heart rate during your intense bursts.  To ensure you are working hard enough no matter what stage you are at, remember that if you can hold a conversation while you’re exercising it’s time to up the intensity.  Training with a friend or a group can encourage competition so you’ll naturally work harder.  And the simplest way to increase your intensity is to shorten the time you are working out, so be sure to use a stopwatch or timer to help you stay on track.

Moving, sweating and panting are signals that you are heading in the right direction toward optimal health and by increasing your intensity will get you there faster.  If you are going to take the time to work out, you may as well get the most out of it, right?!

Category: General Health