Let’s be honest, the majority of our population views exercise as a hassle or inconvenience and more times than not, will begin an exercise program with only short term goals in mind. There is a classic rollercoaster every year when it comes to people incorporating fitness into their daily lives. The year begins with a flood of New Year’s resolution advocates, gung-ho on the “new year, new me” mantra. Then we have the Spring Break rush for those who missed the New Year’s train (or maybe hopped off sometime between January and March). Nothing better than exercising like crazy for a few weeks so you can go to Panama City, eat like crap, deprive yourself of sleep, and drink unsafe amounts of alcohol for a week. But if the bathing suit fits, right? From there, we slide into summer and pick up the stragglers who have yet to jump on the exercise train. The “I’ll start next week” folks are now wishing they were the “new year, new me” folks. Before you know it, bathing suit season is over and Thanksgiving is three months away, so screw it I’ll start next year. The point I am trying to make is that we need to steer away from short term seasonal goals and incorporate lifetime goals for fitness and wellness.
Exercise and proper diet have somehow developed more negative connotations than positive. The gym has turned into this place where you have to leave feeling dead or that means you did not have a “good” workout. Exercise is supposed to make you feel better, not worse. We have been trained to think that there are only “quick fixes” for our health, versus establishing lasting lifestyle habits. That being said, taking three classes then killing yourself on the treadmill is not a realistic lifelong habit. Your body is not going to be able to sustain this way of training for more than a few weeks at a time. This is where the idea of using exercise as medicine comes into play. We need to start thinking about our wellness as a lifetime journey, not just something that will tide us over until the next bathing suit season. No matter what time of the year it is, your number one goal for fitness should always be your health. The idea that exercise is a daily dose of medicine may help change the negative feelings we have about the gym.
We can break these negative barriers with the promise of quality of life. I like to view quality of life as being in good standing with the components of metabolic health & physical fitness. That is the foundation on which our gym was built upon, the direct relationship between physical fitness and improved health. Regular physical activity is proven to increase heart and lung function, reduce heart disease risk factors, and decrease overall mortality. For the first time in our history the life expectancy of the coming generation is lower than that of their parents! To put this in perspective, my favorite professor in college would always tell us that sitting kills. She would have us break from our note taking (or lack thereof) to stand up at random times during her lecture. It would always render a slew of huffs and puffs but that is something that has stuck with me, a bit extreme but also keeps things nice and simple. SITTING KILLS! Like the old saying goes, use it or lose it!
So where to start? If you have not already, schedule your yearly wellness and nutrition consultation that is offered with your membership. We offer these consultations in order for our members to establish true short and long term goals from objective measurable data. The subjective goals, such as improved self-esteem or feeling more confident about stepping into a semi-private training session (see what I did there ?), will naturally improve as you step closer to reaching those measurable goals. First goal is to establish any risk factors that can be combated with improved fitness and nutrition. If the consultation shows good standing health, use this as motivation to continue on the path of improved fitness and nutrition. Remember age is not your friend! So here is the breakdown of the health-related components of metabolic health and physical fitness:
Metabolic Health Components
· Body composition (specific to abdominal obesity)
· Elevated “bad” cholesterol and/or reduced “good” cholesterol
· Elevated blood pressure
· High fasting blood glucose levels (insulin resistance)
*the root cause of metabolic syndrome is often overweight/obesity from leading a sedentary lifestyle
Physical Fitness Components
· Heart and lung endurance
· Body Composition (specific to muscle versus fat mass ratio)
· Muscular strength
· Muscular endurance
The idea is to improve on the nutrition and physical fitness components and the metabolic health components will follow suit. If nutrition is something you struggle with, get with one of our nutrition coaches! As for the fitness part of your journey here are some tips to help fill all of your physical fitness buckets.
· Improve your heart and lung endurance by increasing your work capacity. This does not necessarily mean kill yourself on the treadmill! The semi-privates, Tabata and Core-Rx incorporate work to rest ratios that will help improve your work capacity. GRIT strength is another class that incorporates cardio. The forever faithful RPM and SPRINT classes are another good option but remember we want to fill all of our buckets!
· Body Composition, muscle strength and endurance will be improved by building MUSCLE! We must build muscle to increase the muscle to fat ratio. If you focus on building muscle instead killing yourself to burn the most calories possible, you may render some better results! Keep in mind you continue to burn calories up to a day after resistance training.
· Flexibility can be improved by staying active! If you don’t move it, you will lose it! Brett offers an awesome movement and mobility class every Saturday morning. If you have not already tried it, I highly recommend going. The semi-privates, Tabata-Rx, and Core-Rx also offer static and dynamic warm-ups that will help improve mobility, stability and flexibility. Mobility is the foundation to your fitness journey. This is why we offer the Functional Movement Screens in order for trainers to establish proper moving patterns through corrective exercises or movement regressions.
In closing, we must keep in mind our body must have time to recovery and rest! Diet and sleep are just as important. Physical activity recommendations are to be active on most if not all days of the week! Planned moderate exercise should be performed five times a week and vigorous exercise should be no more than three! Let’s start filling those buckets guys, and remember it’s your daily dose of medicine ?
Becca Carley, BS, ACSM-EP