Not sure where to start with your exercise resolutions 2023? No pressure. I will go first:
First, my exercise evolution update
With the exception of the last 7 days, my routine has been pretty consistent and I look forward to resuming and evolving my program in the new year. In short, I will be continuing with lunchtime cycling, after work stretch and strengthening (machine, body weight and theraband, primarily legs), twice weekly Essentrics® class(teach), teaching a new mini class Wednesday am, weekly HIIT online class with my exercise peeps, and walks to and from work (get the snowpants out!)
I have some more specific goals that are exercise related:
A) I want to retest my VO2 max with a step test (Modified Canadian Aerobic Fitness Test (mCAFT)). Not sure what VO2 is? Check this post.
B) I want to retest my heartrate level during my fitness classes to see if my past calculations on time spent in a moderate intensity zone is accurate.
C) And I am strongly considering the dabble. This involves an in person or perhaps online ballet class. It will be very interesting to see how the class feels as it has probably been about 12 years since I have stepped into a dance studio. In person would be ideal as well as my biggest challenge. I will keep you posted.
Now for you.
If you don’t have any ideas, check out some of my past posts:
Q: Would you like to find out where you are on the exercise and activity spectrum? If you know where you are, you might be able to envision where you want to go.
I am going to open up the comments so if you wish to post your exercise resolutions or activity plans for the 2023 please do. It can be simple or with some detail.
If you don’t have any resolutions, don’t worry. The beauty of exercise and physical activity is that you can start anytime you want. Whenever you are ready. Exercise is one of those things that for many of us has its ebbs and flows. No guilt required.
And if you need help, find some help. Follow up with your favorite health practitioner or fitness professional. Complete an activity readiness questionnaire if you have any concerns. I plan to provide you with more structure and support, so feel free to join my email list for further updates very soon!
Here is my most recent exercise evolution update and VO2 testing. I haven’t tested myself for many years and I was curious to see if my exercise evolution to date has been sufficient to maintain my cardiovascular fitness.
In short, VO2 is a measure of your cardiovascular fitness. The better your VO2, the more physical activity you can do on any given day, and in terms of longevity, the more you move now will have a significant impact on what you can do as the years progress.
I assessed my VO2 because I do not do a lot of extended “cardio” sessions. As you will see, my “cardio” efforts are not at a high level, but instead a multitude of moderate physical activities and modest durations. In addition, given my age, there is an anticipated decline every decade in your aerobic capacity starting in your 30’s or 40’s. I plan to be a “mover” for the rest of my life, so having a good aerobic capacity is essential in maintaining an active lifestyle.
Moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activities such that there is an accumulation of at least 150 minutes per week
Muscle strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least twice a week
Several hours of light physical activities, including standing
For adults 65+ it was recommended to include balance activities
Here is my exercise evolution update
I have included updated values on time spent at a moderate intensity on a weekly basis (MT) in each activity. Want know what moderate intensity is? See my next blog here for further details on how it was calculated.
Daily walks: 25 minutes each, 8-10 times/week. I am probably moving at a light to moderate pace……no, not really. When tested, I do not reach moderate intensity levels. MT=0
Hip and knee strengthening plus stretching, abs: 20 minutes 2-3 times/week. Moderate level 12 minutes x 3. MT=36
Essentrics: group exercise class (instructor) one hour 2 times/week: Moderate level 30% of the time MT=40
HIIT style online class: Once weekly moderate level 20 out of 60 minutes. MT=20
Stairs: 3 flights up/down at least once daily(30 sec each). MT=0
Standing: I stand frequently. Sitting much more that an hour at a time gets me fidgeting.
Total time weekly at moderate level or more=136.
I am a little embarrassed in that when I originally wrote this, I estimated 311 minutes/week. I was way off. But good to keep it real and know where there is room for improvement.
VO2 testing and results
I used the Modified Canadian Aerobic Fitness Test (mCAFT). It involves stepping up and down 2 steps(and sometimes one large step if you make it to the final stage), at progressively faster cadences. You calculate your heart rate max and then work through the progressive stages until you reach 85% of your maximum heart rate. Each stage is associated with an oxygen cost. Based on the stage you reach for your age group, you take the oxygen cost and input that into an equation that will give you your aerobic capacity result (VO2).
Well, I did well. I did not make it to the final stage. My perceived exertion by the end was approximately 17 out of 20. Part of the protocol is to check your blood pressure during recovery, which gratefully was better than expected.
So my result was 45 ml/kg-1/min-1 . My health benefit rating was excellent for my age range(50-59) and could be found in the excellent range for 30-39 year old’s. If I had made it to the last stage, my VO2 would have calculated to be 49 ml/kg-1/min-1. I would have then been in the Excellent 15-19 year old group. I will have to look into who the study sample was and how this came to be. In the meantime, I love finding out new info about myself that I can then re-assess at a later date for comparison. There are also other test protocols that I may try at a future date.
Alternatively, you can look at the structure of my current exercise evolution update and substitute your own activities that you currently engage in. You may be surprised as to how much you are doing for yourself.
Unintentionally, I have evolved into being a group exerciser. Maybe I always was one. Now I identify as one.
There are many benefits of group exercise that can make the effort required seem less daunting and some added benefits that can only be experienced in a group setting. Now with COVID there has been an online boom in options. You can do it anywhere without leaving the comfort of your home or workplace. Gyms re-opening with the possibility of live classes has once again been halted. The livestream/ virtual options can provide many of the same benefits and will get you moving.
Early development as a (virtual) group exerciser
My initial exposure to group exercise was virtually through some old technology called the television. It was The 20 Minute Workout and I always hoped my favorite back up instructor Bess, would be part of the trio. My primary school friends and I would get together to get a lunchtime workout in.
I was inspired by these aerobic exercisers, their confidence and showmanship. Their integrated and unique combinations of fitness attire were always fun to decipher. I was a little young and a bit conservative for the high cut leotards with the g string backs but I really thought these women were amazing.
Early development as a (live) group exerciser
My first formal in person group exercise experience was at a gym called Lady Fitness when I was about 15. It was an extension of the Superfitness brand. I joined Lady Fitness with expressed intent of using the seated inner thigh (adductor) machine. Group exercise wasn’t my initial focus. The inner thigh machine was the answer to all of my problems at that time. I couldn’t wait to get started.
In between adductor training sessions, I trialed many of the group classes offered. They were generally “aerobic” with varying levels of difficulty. I remember being a little judgemental of one of the instructors huffing and puffing during her own workout. Now I know better that the apparent effort did not necessarily mean lack of fitness. It was just exertion, physically and vocally.
Since that time I had tried multiple other gyms and fitness centers but nothing ever really stuck in terms of group fitness. I remained doing mostly what I was used to which included dance, running and team sport. After high school, I continued on the path of running and weight training.
Middle and later development as a group exerciser
My middle stage of development included going back into formal dance training in my late 20’s(I had my midlife crisis in my 20’s). Dance school is almost all group physical activity in often a highly dynamic atmosphere with live musicians. I studied full time for about 3 and a 1/2 years and then tried to make it as an independent dancer for the remainder of a decade. Supporting myself as a dancer did not become a reality but I was sure glad to have had the experiences that I did.
The final stage of my development included an introduction to Essentrics® at a fitness conference. At that point it had been at least 10 years since I had experienced physical group dynamics. It turned out to be a technique that I enjoyed and it piqued my intellectual curiosity. I left the conference fully engaged and ready to go.
The benefits of group exercise
Feed off the energy of the other participants
When I had returned to the dance studio, I realized that I loved being in class. The energy generated by the musicians and fellow dancers was spectacular and so stimulating! Essentrics® classes have also provided me a similar encompassing experience as a group exerciser. Your focus is heightened by the instructor, music and group dynamic.
I can do that too!
It’s so much easier doing intentional movement when there are others around doing the same thing. This could be a class or even a duo. When I see others exercise, I want to exercise too(or at least think I should be). I think part of the motivation is to match your peers and a little competitive spirit too.
Not enough time? Finances?
Sometimes there is a financial constraint to group work. In the advent of our now not so recent world crisis, there are multiple online options. The cost of online classes may be cheaper than in person.
When it comes to time, the online workout option eliminates more than half of the battle. You are not depending on traffic or the TTC to get you there on time. You can potentially do it at work or home depending on the routine.
Other possibilities may include creating your own group and choosing someone to lead. Use some prerecorded workouts or online applications. If you can get enough people together, you could share the cost of a workout with an instructor you choose.
Watch and follow someone else
I did an online class this morning for $10 with one of my favorite instructors. She has amazing energy, and I can see the other participants (when I choose to). I clear some space, get a mat out, earpods in, runners on, and voila! Instant group fun!
Although there are many recorded options, the benefit of a live stream is that the instructor is actually watching the participants to give modifications and specific cues. You really do feel like a part of a class, and it’s definitely more fun for me than doing my workout solo.
Find your peeps. They are out there. Structure a class into your week and make the commitment. Take advantage of the abundant energy that is already present to get you moving. There is no time like now. Are you ready?
It’s been at least 6 weeks since my last exercise evolution update. One thing I mentioned in my last update was the variation in time spent exercising. I have continued to be biased towards shorter workouts, and combining different short workouts together. But now I am dabbling to promote exercise program evolution. I say dabble because my new exercise choices are outside of what I normally would do. I am committing to the new option for a prescribed length of time at which point I should be able to discern the degree of benefit it provides me.
The danger of the “dabble”.
Sometimes when dabbling you may be trying new activities that your body is not used to. So how do you mediate the risk? By going through the routines initially as an outsider looking in. My suggestion to you is to maintain your “space” by working within your abilities. If you don’t look exactly as pictured, who cares? Be very curious, move slower, smaller, and take advantage of any modifications offered. If you are looking at something that is truly outside of your abilities, then maybe repeat something done earlier in the routine, or just substitute your own movement. Exercise program evolution means more variety, less boredom, and possibly fewer overuse injuries from doing the same thing over and over again.
My exercise dabble: “21 day yoga tabata course”.
The course has been more beneficial than I had anticipated. One, as an instructor I like to look at different styles of teaching and presentation. Two, I like to tune in to the anatomical and biomechanical explanations. And three, it has allowed me to reconnect with the benefits of stillness and breath found within a yoga workout.
The tabata part is esentially MIIT(moderate intensity intervals). I don’t think they were sufficient to get the heart rate up to true HIIT(high intensity interval training) levels. See this blog for a further discussion on HIIT or steady state cardio for fat loss.
Here is my exercise evolution update:
Monday to Friday: I walk to and from work (2X25 min)
Monday: Tabata yoga 20-25 min plus steady state jog 25 min
Tuesday: Tabata yoga 20-25 min plus hip/knee strengthening with sliders, leg press, ham curl
Wednesday: Tabata yoga, 2 sessions
Thursday: 10 minute run warm up, Tabata yoga 25 min, interval running on treadmill 20 minutes
Friday: Tabata yoga 25, lower body routine similar to Tuesday
Saturday: HIIT style online class, using bodyweight and resistance bands, 1hr
Sunday: Essentrics full body stretch and strengthening class, continuous movement, 1 hr
Check out where you are on the exercise and physical activity spectrum. We probably have more options now than ever (online, outdoor, indoor gyms) so if you haven’t got started on your goal of daily physical activity, don’t wait any longer.
Its probably been more than six weeks since I last posted an exercise evolution update. The reason I do this is to provide myself as an example of someone who exercises regularly and constantly switches up the routine. The biggest change has been the duration and frequency of exercise. I released the reigns a little, and I feel just as good as ever. Compare this weekly routine to my last exercise evolution update in the post Exercise options: keeping them open.
My latest routine this week:
Steady state jog on treadmill with some incremental increases in speed: 5.0 mph to 6.8mph 1X per week(30 min)
How did I come up with 6.8 mph? I did a 10k run when I was about 15 years old. My average pace at that time was 8:50 per mile, which translates into 6.8 mph. I am working towards improving my speed without breaking the bank.
Hip and knee rehab exercise both bodyweight exercise and gym machines 2X/week (25 min with warm up)
HIIT (both an online class and personal version) 2X/week(60 and 30 min)
So this HIIT is really more interval training, with work and relative rest periods. I don’t think I am getting my heart rate up past 85% of its max consistently during the work phases, but I make it effortful (probably a 5-6 on a scale of 10). For the relative rest phases I do toning exercises, changing postures in each rest interval.
Essentrics2X/week (30min to 1hr)
Walks daily 2X 25 minutes
Stretches: I still find static stretches for my quads and hip flexors are essential to maintain the length and flexibility 2-3X/week(15 min)
Frequency and duration
You can see the the majority of my workouts have been 30 minutes. Only 2 of my workouts require one hour. There may be one or more of the above activities in one day. But even if I did a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week, that’s 180 minutes. Check out the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Adults ages 18-64.
Getting started with my workouts over the last couple of months have been a challenge, in that sometimes I feel like I am starting with the tank half full. Ultimately, these shorter workouts have left me feeling more energized and have reduced my stress levels. I am getting smarter and more in tune with what works best for my body right now.
Is there something you could do right now to stimulate positive physical health? Small commitments to exercise and keeping your options open will help you stay on the path to better health and happiness. You know its worth it, so let’s go!
It is important to be ready for those times when you are experiencing boredom with exercise. The evolution of your exercise program should allow for variations as needed. I know I am continually evaluating my program and it is always changing. Variety in exercise is important for many reasons.
One reason is to avoid boredom with exercise. Did you ever have a plan to do some sort of exercise, to find yourself saying, “Ugh?! This is so boring!” I know I have, so what do I do? Well , I don’t throw the towel in and use boredom as an excuse to stop but as a reason to be creative or improvise. There are truly a multitude of things you can do to get yourself moving. If you are not up to one thing, try another. Just making some slight changes may be enough to keep you on track. Let me give you an example of how my program has evolved over the last 6 weeks.
Here was my weekly routine 6 weeks ago
Steady state running with one minute “fast pace”every 5 minutes for 6 cycles (30 min)plus lower body stretches 2X
Knee rehab 2X and shoulder rehab1X.
Essentrics(stretch and strengthen no weight) 2X
High rep full body muscle endurance online exercise class 1X
Moderate paced walk 2 times daily for 25 minutes to and from work.
It turns out that this past week was the most varied and challenging to date. I had to depend on my steadfast methods (get changed without necessarily knowing my plan for the day) and assumptions (any amount of intentional movement is better than none) to keep me on the straight but not so narrow path:
This week’s exercise and activity program
Mixed cardio (elliptical and treadmill) moderate intensity (30 min) 1X
Treadmill steady state moderate intensity jog (20 min) 1X
Knee rehab body weight and machine strengthening (30 min) 2X
Alternate knee rehab using different equipment for variety (20 min) 1X
Start with a thread of exercise. Don’t worry about the end result. Just know that what you give now you will benefit from later. The small parts will make up a whole and and even more. Allow for variety and last minute changes. When you apply yourself to do the simplest of tasks you will soon find yourself at a new level of fitness and abilities. Exercise evolution: one day at a time is all you need to get there.
I have been dreaming of my own personal exercise studio with all the gagetry needed to both receive and give amazing exercise experiences. What do you need to make an ideal exercise space?
My exercise space
I don’t have the luxury of a separate space in my home for exercise, so I already use a multiple use space for yet another use. Gratefully, the space that I do use does not have any furniture that requires re-positioning. I have an open wall when teaching for my backdrop. My camera depth is limited so boxes on a counter serve as my tripod when virtual.
One thing I am noticing is that lighting can be a problem, especially on overcast or winter days. I may need to invest in more lights so I can be visible to myself and others while on the screen. For different levels of exercise (standing, lying) my computer has to be re-positioned so I can still see well. Did we ever imagine that we would be fiddling around with a computer while exercising?
If you are more fortunate, there may be more things that you can look into like improving your technology for your virtual experiences. It really helps if you can hear an instructed program clearly. Something simple like earbuds if you can tolerate them can allow you to zone in to cues and music.
I think back to all of the physical spaces I have moved in for the sake of fitness, conditioning and the creation of movement. There have been some that were amazing and others that were not so appealing.
Here is a summary of the factors that made the exercise experience more or less pleasurable:
The Good. Light, good audio/acoustics, clean/uncluttered, easy access, not isolated, fresh air, some sense of newness/modernity and if not, unadulterated classic style, soft floor(wood versus concrete), no carpet.
The Amazing. There were a few spaces where the atmosphere was further enhanced. They all had a cathedral-like structure (very high ceilings and lots of light). No doubt the feeling and sensations that came to me when in those spaces included: Spiritual. Expansive. Uplifting. Energizing. Welcoming.
The Not So Good. The spaces that I didn’t care for much and that I believe ultimately influenced my movement experience included: old and decrepit, cold(I mean really cold), yellow tinged walls, low ceilings, dark, cluttered, and significant distractions from outside sounds.
We can’t all have perfect personally controlled spaces to move in. Especially when exercising in our homes, there may be a limitation of physical space and/or a shared space that can’t otherwise be significantly altered.
I don’t have a magical solution to creating an amazing space but if you start with the basics, like reducing clutter and improving lighting, this can go a long way to improving your exercise atmosphere.
But don’t wait to have the perfect space to get started. The exercise experience is obviously more about what you do with your body than where you are.
Defining your space physically and mentally will ultimately help you fulfill your goals. Removing both the tangible and intangible obstacles, with practice, will make your everyday commitment to movement and physical well being more regular and automatic. Make positive connections with your physical space and build on the possibilities a day at a time. Making space available may simply be deciding that here and now is the best option. Go for it. Let’s move!
Exercise acoutrement: do clothes matter when exercising? Have you ever exercised naked? If you are wearing exercise clothes are they clean or lightly worn?
Does your exercise outfit make a difference as to how you feel and perform?
I can be motivated by a cool outfit. Despite being relatively cheap and over-wearing certain pieces, I had the pleasure of reacquainting myself with active urban fashion. My new threads were from a store that was totally my style. A mixture of sporty, fashion and quality i.e. a small investment. Not earthy but unencumbered. I ended up spending a few bucks over two visits at RYU. It did include a winter coat so it wasn’t purely sweat wear. I really enjoyed the next couple of months feeling pretty cool in my new threads that screamed exercise but urban chic.
I used to really love clothes. Little Miss Fuss Budget was an early childhood nickname. If I thought something was ugly on me then it was ugly. There was no amount of talking that could sway my mind. I am still like that now but I care a little less if the clothes do not fit perfectly or if they are maybe a little big. Too small? Never. I can’t stand wearing clothes that constantly need to adjusted or feel like they are being pulled the wrong direction. Freedom of movement is essential.
I also can thank Essentrics and getting a job at Framewrk. Because I wanted to look my best I splurged a little. I went out and bought multiple slim track pants and bike shorts, skipping the tights. Way too revealing for my body. I may as well be walking around naked because that is how I feel in tights. That is just me and my personal preferences around exercise acoutrement.
Steps to success
Its always stimulating to be wearing something that you know is flattering. But should it be an excuse not to exercise if you are lacking the current exercise acoutrement? If you are exercising solo in your home you can really get away with anything. If you are exercising elsewhere, it can be its tiresome to have to change or shower for that matter after a workout. Sometimes carrying around what you need is a pain so just plan to do less when time is limited, i.e maybe you don’t need to do a hardcore workout just before a dinner outing? Or maybe you will just do a light warm-up and some stretches to reverse the posture you have been in all day. No need to sweat it, every time.
Plan your day and your outfits to minimize the dress change. Wear your sports bra under the work clothes and change to the regular later. I have minimized my underwear needs by wearing shorts where underwear is built in or optional.
Include your change time time into your workout time
This will leave you feeling less rushed and allow you to plan your intentional activity to be successful in its completion. For example, I have 25 minutes and I need 10 to change, so that leaves me 15 minutes to focus on me. Be reasonable.
Maybe wear the used clothes once in awhile so you don’t have to carry clothes back and forth everyday if that’s an option. Hang them up to dry in unusual ways (my overhead desk cupboard that is not air tight). They just need ventilation. If its a morning workout get your stuff out the night before. Better yet, get it packed the night before for tomorrow’s workout. Buy a few extra outfits so you don’t need to do the laundry as often. Maybe even plan the weeks worth of clothes if you have enough and bring it with you on Monday or whatever day you start your week. If you only have one outfit you like then hand wash it nightly. Fitness gear generally dries faster than the rest.
We are often very creative when it comes to reasons not to exercise. Be more creative with reasons to exercise. Then empower yourself to do the things that you know will only benefit you. Is it a sweat day or a light day to rebalance? Colour is great at elevating your mood. Add your touches to make it individual. When I had to tape my ankle I created homemade ankle warmers made from socks with the toe and heel cut out. One of my group exercise clients actually asked me where I bought them from!
Reduce, reuse and take simple proactive steps to ensure success
Choosing to exercise is hard enough at times so reduce, reuse and take preventative actions to ensure that you don’t do the “I can’t” because you are not prepared. Make it inevitable. Get your gear on without contemplation. Once you start the process its much easier to get it done. You know you will feel better at the end. The movement is what matters. Not what you wear. If what you wear impacts your decision making, then don’t leave the options open. Exercise acoutrement: close the deal before its done. And then, get her done.
I have been not sedentary for my entire life. This doesn’t mean that I have been running around in circles but almost. I can’t sit still. But where does this come from. Anxiety, nervousness, boredom?
When I do move, whether it is intentional or not, it distracts me, redirects my mind, allows my thoughts to wander OR if it is intentional, I have almost 100% of the time felt some sort of release following exercise, both physically and mentally.
While exercising/moving I get to zone in on my body and zone out of any current mental pre-occupations.
One of the things I like about exercise the most is the kinesthetic feedback I get from my body. I like the feeling of a good muscle contraction, control over the limb involved, and the resting tone that remains after.
I am very aware of when I have some new soreness, swelling, bump or other various body asymmetries come up. My hands are just drawn to the area and then voila!, There is something there. Gratefully never serious.
When I do have pain, I can usually deal with it and complain very little on the outside. On the inside I do get irritated especially if it lasts a little longer that I anticipated, resolving slower than expected. I don’t ever lose the hope that it will get better.
Exercise and injury
I actually sprained my ankle on a Thursday many weeks ago. It was simply from running across the street and turning my ankle over on the streetcar track. Initially, I knew I was injured but I could still walk. The limp reduced over the next several steps but I had to walk very consciously and with awareness the rest of the way. It was not until the end of the day, as my ankle swelled and the pain increased, that I realized this was not a mild sprain and would preclude my exercise activities.
So I did something out the ordinary for me. I asked for help to cover my Essentrics class the following evening and I spent that evening and the next with my foot elevated with intermittent icing. I taped my ankle for work and sat as much as possible during my workday. The relative rest really helped. By the second morning following the sprain, I noted further improvement in my range of motion and continued to rest it for the day. I decided that I would be able to teach my Sunday morning Essentrics class, with taping and a few modifications. I made it through the class with some mild arch pain that subsided over the course of the day. I continued to tape it daily until it is fully resolved to prevent accidental re-injury.
So I was amazed at the effect of REST. Historically, I have had multiple sprains, but rarely if ever, reduced my activity level to promote healing. I usually just kept up with the maximum level activity possible, allowed pain and swelling to occur, and waited several weeks for the strain to resolve. This time, I continued on a moderate path, of relative rest (not walking to work, not stationary cycling and not teaching my usual number of classes).
The benefits of relative rest shouldn’t be a big surprise to me, but despite my knowledge, I am like many people, who tough it out, thinking that less is not better. I don’t like to bring attention to myself, and frequently suffer quietly under wraps. I am not exactly sure exactly where that pattern has stemmed from but ultimately, I am on a new path, to a more sustainable body, hence Sustainablebod.ca has birthed itself as my perspectives, knowledge, and desire to maintain a healthy ‘older’ body has come to the forefront more than ever.
Take your number one reason for exercising and think about where you are now and where you want to be. Are you already there? Do you need to maintain or improve? Is it an emotional, physical, physiological or cognitive reason for exercising? Is it realistic? Maybe you just want to have fun?
For example, why am I doing this and should I be doing this now? Is there something else I should be doing in addition to what I am doing? Is this enough? Is it too much? Why is my (insert body part) hurting? It really is not that easy to know how much you need, how often and what type of movement is best for you. It no doubt will be an ongoing process of re-evaluation. There is no one size fits all.
But I am almost positive that if you begin with the less complex activity as a starting point you will likely find something that is useful and safe to do. When your goals become clearer the path should also become clearer. It can be a fun ride if you don’t get hung up on details. Unless you have already done it before. But even then, bodies and circumstances change.
My suggestion is to be willing to question but don’t let these questions stop you from deciding to move. Its always better to have completed the simplest of tasks than nothing at all. You can’t reflect unless you have recent up to date experiences to reflect on. Give yourself some new information to work with. And that information comes from your body and your experience inside it.
This is a blog that I wrote some time ago during the early COVID days. I am not one to succumb to the pressures of stress. Generally, I feel that I can handle stress well but recent world developments have had an impact on my current primary occupation and financial sources of income. I would like to think that I can do it all, but as of late, I have allowed myself a bit more flexibility in my exercise expectations than I normally would during a regular week. Exercise in times of elevated levels of stress can be challenging.
To exercise or not to exercise. That is a question. I last put in a “formal” workout 3 days ago. It is not a long time, but long enough to trigger some guilt for not doing my usual (Essentrics) exercise workout at a rate of 3-4 times per week. On the brighter side, I have been walking twice daily for 25 minutes for the purpose of transporting myself to and from work, a safer option than taking public transit at this time. So I am getting some DIPA (daily intentional physical activity). All is not lost. The daily walks give me the time to refocus and distract myself from the ongoing foreboding threat.
I know tomorrow that I will without a doubt add in a formal workout in addition walking. But for today I am giving myself a relative break. Relative rest is what I like to call it.
Trying to balance the equation
When it comes to immunity, we know that the balance between stress and exercise can have an impact on our body’s response to fight infection. There is no exact prescription. It will be different for everyone depending on your starting point. Exercise in times of elevated levels of stress needs to challenge you and not degrade you.
I have benefited from exercise so many times that I could never truly give in. But it’s tempting. What is less tempting is to reduce my level of fitness to a point that my energy levels change. I am not worried that I have fallen off the wagon. But it really makes you think about what is important. It’s easy to make excuses so I will keep these periods in check, when intending to promote the preservation of energy through decreased movement, because at some point the equilibrium is lost and then you have to build it up again.
I’ve decided that my strategy tomorrow is to start my day with a workout when my energy level is higher. I know I can do it. I am looking forward to it. These times will always pass, its just that this one is truly out of my control.
Keeping it simple
I am setting my goals at a level that I know I can accomplish. Sometimes its a day to day assessment. I personally can depend on myself but if that wasn’t the case, who or what would I turn to, to help motivate me and keep me on track? For the last 2 Saturdays at around 1pm I have been doing an IGTV workout with Jillian Michaels. I think it really helps to know that you are not alone, and there are others working out with you at the same time. I’ve also considered giving my own Zoom class to private clients(my colleagues) to replace their weekly Wednesday Essentrics. I have also started using the Nike app again combined with some cycling.
Exercise in times of elevated levels of stress means that I will always go with my flow. This means that I will do some form of intentional activity but there are no hard set rules, just options. The more options you have then the more likely you will just get started and then see where your flow takes you. For example, my options could be stationary bike, treadmill, stretching, Nike app, Essentrics TV, or learn new Essentrics choreography. I also have Zoom Essentrics and HIIT class options with a preferred teacher.
My only “should do’s” are actually cardiovascular exercise where my heart rate is elevated, either in a fat burning zone long duration or HIIT. Keeping the VO2 max healthy is all about our capacity to perform. If only I could accurately assess my VO2 max, that would be wonderful.
Exercise in times of elevated levels of stress can be challenging. Trying to find balance in my self when the world is full of unpredictability is all I can do. Keeping it simple and allowing myself to have options decreases the internal pressure. Keeping the heart and lungs healthy are key in maintaining energy levels. Its almost always worth the effort. Picking the right level of effort will ensure that I will follow through, finding myself on the other side of having fulfilled the need to move my body. Approaching each day individually with unique DIPA goals have made it easier to say yes to today. I will intentionally move my body for the betterment of my current health and future quality of life. Onward and upward!