We all know that exercise is good for us but for some the idea of slimming down or gaining muscle isn’t enough to motivate us to actually do it. I am one of these people, honestly I can loose weight through my food, and my job is physical so I have adequate muscle from treating people (Myotherapy) and teaching Pilates. So yes, I need alternative motivations to exercise. Here are my top 3 better reasons to exercise; especially number three!
1. Increased healing and adaptation
Exercise places a mechanical stress on several systems of the body including but not limited to the cardiovascular system, the immune system and the musculoskeletal system. This stress forces our body into an adaption state which increases our good gut bacteria, our immune system response, our bone density, our cardiovascular health and the strength of our muscles and tendons.
2. Stress Relief
Not just the stress of the office, this includes relief from fear, anxiety, depression and other psychosocial factors. Exercise releases certain feel good chemicals or hormones that have a positive effect on our psyche such as dopamine and serotonin which in their synthetic form often make up the basis of depression and anxiety based medications. I am not suggesting you ditch your medication and go for a run instead but together with the help of your doctor or psychiatrist you may be able to use exercise to reduce your medication over time.
3. Pain Reduction
A combination of things are responsible for pain reduction from exercise. Part of it is from the adaption process mentioned above. There is emerging evidence to suggest that our gut flora is partly responsible for how sensitive our nervous system is and exercise tends to promote the balance of flora that promotes reduced pain, pretty amazing stuff! Also a lot of our pain experience is heightened by psychosocial factors particularly fear around old injuries or pain and anxiety created from having too much on our schedule. Some of the same hormones released during exercise that are effective for helping our mood are also natural pain relief hormones in addition endorphins and cortisol are also released during exercise.
So now you know my 3 top reasons to start or increase your exercise regime you are probably asking if there are specific types of exercises you need to do?
Research shows that a general strength program where you do at least a push, a pull and a squat; a minimum of twice a week to failure and at least 72 hours apart is as good as a specific tailor made program when it comes to reducing pain for most people. If you are more into yoga or pilates these are absolutely great as long as they incorporate all parts of your body, again you want to be looking for some pushes, some pulls and some squatting type actions, and again, hopefully you get to work to failure to encourage the adaption process.
Cardiovascular can be incorporated into your strength training especially if you are into the HIIT style training (High Intensity Interval Training) that is very popular at the moment. The way to tell if you are in the right zone for cardio is to ask yourself out of 10 how hard are you working. For moderate cardio you need to be working at about a 7/10 and for intense cardio you will be working above so like a 8/10 or a 9/10. Another way is to say a sentence as you are exercising, easier if you are working out with a friend or trainer, but if you need to take a breathe after approximately 5 words you are most likely in the moderate zone and if you need to take a breathe after 3 or less words you are most likely in the intense zone. For general health and fitness and to reap the rewards of my top 3 reasons to exercise you will need to work out for at least 10 minutes in the moderate or intense zones, sorry, your warm up doesn’t count as you won’t be in the right zone yet. The government guidelines for how much cardio to do in a week is 75 minutes of intense cardio or 150 minutes of moderate cardio. You can of course do a combo of the two.
Happy exercising everyone, hopefully this has motivated you to get into action, it’s certainly the right time of year to start a new plan! If you have any questions, as always, please get in contact with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and attn: Sarah.
Clinical Pilates versus General Exercise for Chronic Low Back Pain: Randomized Trial HENRY WAJSWELNER1,2,3, BEN METCALF3 , and KIM BENNELL3
Exercise Psychology 2nd Edition (2013) – Janet Buckworth, PhD; Rod K. Dishman, PhD Patrick J. O’Connor, PhD
The Microbiota: an Exercise Immunology Perspective Stéphane Bermon1,2, Bernardo Petriz3,4, Alma Kajėnienė5,6, Jonato Prestes7, Lindy Castell8, Octavio L. Franco3,7,9