6 Simple Ways to Consistently Fit Healthy Exercise Into Your Busy Life
When it comes to exercise and “working out”, there’s much to choose from, and much to be confused by!
One critical concept we must never forget is that “Motion is Life”. Our bodies love to move, and our brains thrive on movement.
This is about physiology and function, not weight loss and the size of your jeans… although appropriate and consistent exercise plays a direct role there, too! When we move our bodies, especially when we fully move key areas like our spine and hip joints, a very powerful stimulus known as proprioception is generated. This is movement neurology.
Proprioception is fuel for the brain. Yes, your brain, and everything it’s involved with, functions better when it’s receiving sufficient proprioceptive input.
Movement is Brain Food.
So, we need to move. Get it?
OK, but, “how?”
Here’s a super-simple overview of how to make motion a regular part of your healthy lifestyle. If you’re training for the CrossFit Games, or an ultra-marathon, or a fitness competition, or some other very specific sporting endeavor, well then this list probably won’t cut it for you! This is for the rest of us who just want to feel good, look good, and “function good” for as long as possible.
6 Simple Ways to Consistently Fit Movement into Your Life:
1. On a daily basis, do some type of easy, low-intensity, steady-state movement. The goal here is not to reach your maximum heart rate or burn a certain number of calories. It’s to move in an easy way, generate some brain food, stimulate your joint receptors, de-stress, etc.
Walking is ideal for this type of regular movement. Humans have walked since, well, since we were humans! We should be able to walk, safely, with good posture, and good balance, throughout our entire lives.
If you can do so while keeping your heart rate in a nice, low, non-stressed range, then easy jogging, cycling, swimming, stand up paddling, kayaking, etc. can be nice, easy, steady-state movements for you, too.
2. Once or twice each week, add some “bursts” to your cardio-type exercise for “training” purposes. This challenges your body in a different way, more effectively trains your cardiovascular system than old-school cardio, and improves your overall metabolic efficiency, thereby helping you burn fat for fuel more easily.
Examples here are sprinting, hill running, and bursts of “sprints” while doing just about any other type of cardio exercise – cycling, stand up paddling, rowing, and even on some cardio machines, like the treadmill and elliptical.
When you’re doing this for training purposes, the work out itself is brief. For example, you may do ten 100 meter sprints with a minute of walking in between and be finished with that workout in 15 minutes, including your warm-up.
Another way to incorporate the concept of “bursts” is to play certain sports that are inherently based on bursts of activity followed by short recovery periods: soccer, hockey, basketball, football, tennis and other racquet sports, and so on.
3. Two or three times each week, lift heavy things. Yes, this means do some resistance training. Join a gym, hire a trainer, take a boot camp, or do it at home. Nowadays, you really don’t ‘need’ to join a gym, unless that floats your boat. There are many fantastic choices readily available now to help you get a great work out in at home.
When you challenge your muscles by moving through some full range of motion (functional movement patterns) with some added resistance, you create lean muscle mass (not bulk) that helps you burn fat more effectively… and look better, more fit, and more toned. It also helps your posture, balance, and protects your bones for years to come.
4. On a daily basis, do something that challenges your body to move outside its ‘rigid’ comfort zone! In other words, stretch regularly, do some “spinal hygiene” exercises (stretch and bend in a way that moves all 24 of your vertebrae!), and postural exercises. I’d also recommend adding movement patterns like yoga on a regular basis.
When it comes to movement (and flexibility) the saying “use it or lose it” is really quite accurate!
5. Once a week (or less), if you’re still an endurance junkie because you LOVE it, then go ahead and hit the trails for a long run, bike ride, or anything else that challenges your aerobic capacity at a fairly steady state. Is this the best for building lean muscle and an efficient metabolism? Nope. But if you LOVE it, have at it! There is, of course, still some benefit to this long duration, steady state exercise… it’s just not what we thought it was back in the days of Jane Fonda and leg warmers! (Please tell me that some of you are old enough to even know what on earth I’m talking about!!)
6. Play. In addition to your “work outs” and “training”, add plenty of fun things to complete the picture of a healthy, active lifestyle. There are countless examples. Any type of active play with your kids is an excellent place to start: bike rides, jumping on a trampoline, swimming, playing catch, hula-hooping, jump rope, going tubing, playing at the playground or park, etc.
Maybe you enjoy playing golf, or skiing, or hiking, or white water rafting, or skate boarding, or surfing, or mountain climbing… whatever it is you do for fun! It’s all good! There are plenty of fun ways to incorporate movement into your lifestyle.
So, there it is. An easy overview of how you can incorporate a variety of movement into your life and create a healthier, happier brain in the process! Regardless of the season, the weather, your location, or your mood… get up and be a MOVER! Remember, even “just” 5 minutes is better than NO minutes! You’ve got this. Your body AND your brain will love you for it!
If you’re on a roll with your movement and exercise “routine”, please share! We’d love to hear how you fit things in!
Dr. Colleen Trombley-VanHoogstraat (“Dr Mom Online”) is a popular figure in Natural Health & Wellness and is in her 23rd year of active practice in Michigan, along with her husband, Dr. Marc VanHoogstraat. She’s also the proud mom of two rather fabulous kiddos. Her unique perspective of the science of Wellness provides predictable solutions and transformational results for those struggling with chronic health issues, as well as those seeking lifelong health. To discover her simple strategies for creating better health through nutrition, movement and mindset, jump on board as a regular reader of Dr Mom Online when you plug in your email address above.
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For more of Dr. Colleen’s Wellness Lifestyle books, check out her library available online at http://amazon.com/author/drcolleen.