Exercise is making headlines every day. And, living in Boulder, I witness and participate in a spectrum of strength and cardiovascular exercise. Some people exercise for hours and hours each week, or even hours and hours each day. Some of those folks like to compete, while others are happy to be outside just enjoying the day. So, what is the BEST way to exercise? What kind of exercise is BEST? How much exercise is BEST?
I don’t have all the answers, and I have read quite a few different opinions to answer those questions. Here are some interesting and contradictory conclusions I have read:
- Exercising for 30 minutes per day at any intensity helps you maintain a healthy weight and may help you lose excess pounds.
- Low intensity exercise, even for long periods of time, ultimately slows your metabolism and makes you gain weight.
- Exercise improves your mood.
- Too much exercise can make you depressed.
- Regular exercise can improve heart and lung function.
- High intensity exercise that places high demand on the heart muscles, can cause enlargement of the heart muscle and increase the risk of a heart attack.
- Regular exercise can improve the function of the immune system, making you less sick, less often.
- Too much exercise can weaken the immune system’s ability to fight off germs.
Not quite. If you read the above conclusions more carefully, there is a common theme. Moderate exercise is good and can keep you happy and healthy, excessive exercise can be too much of a good thing and could put you on the bench. How much is too much? I think that depends on the individual. For some, a half marathon might be “too much.” For others, ultra marathons or Ironman competitions might be perfectly healthy.
One solution is to vary your training and take rest periods after competitions or after big blocks of training. If you find yourself getting sick more often than you think you should, if you have “the blues,” or if you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight despite regular exercise, maybe reconsider your current regimen.
For me, varying the type of exercise I do has been enormously beneficial. I added Pilates for regular strength training, and I take rests days or rest weeks when my mind or body needs it.
I certainly don’t have a perfect system, and I wish I had all the answers, but if I had one pearl of wisdom to share, it would be to find a routine that works for you, and then change it up – often. Run fast, run slow, bike uphill, bike downhill, try a different type of biking, go climb a 14er, play tennis, go to a martial arts class, dance, do push-ups and pull-ups if you never have, and call Alta to find out about our Pilates programs (my own bias). Lastly, if something hurts, aches or gets sore, call ALTA and make a physical therapy appointment. We are here to help and to heal!