Five Elements of a Well Rounded Exercise Program

 

When I began my fitness journey, dare I say many “moons” ago, I really had no idea about how much I could benefit from having a well balanced fitness program. Chalk it up to being young, or just ignorant…  I just wanted to be fit, to run faster, and to look good by the time bikini season hit. Although these three things motivated me to move my body I didn’t realize that I was missing some key elements in my fitness program that was holding my progress back. It took many years of finally listening to my body, working through overuse injuries or not seeing results to educate myself on what I needed to do to achieve some balance in my regime. Whether you are a exercise fanatic or newbie,  we can all benefit from  the following five components of fitness.

1. Moderate Cardiovascular Exercise-(3 to 4 times a week) an activity that will keep you in your aerobic zone. You
should strive to work at a level that feels somewhat hard (refer to our last blog post on RPE, or your Rate of
Perceived Exertion). Jogging,  or an outdoor bike ride including some hilly terrain, swimming, or maybe walking at a
a good clip are examples of moderate exercise. If you have to take it indoors try walking on the treadmill, but try to
vary the speed and incline so you feel slightly winded. What’s important is to do something you LIKE, since being
regularly active is key to your adherence to exercise.  Aim for 30-60 minutes, since you are focusing more on
endurance.  Also remember the exercise should be challenging enough for you to break a sweat. It’s not about
looking good here, it’s about getting the most out of your exercise session.

2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)-(1 to 2 times a week) here is where some neglect this key element of
fitness, which can be helpful in aiding weight-loss, as well as strengthen the heart and muscles, increase aerobic
output and strengthen the immune system. Think short bouts of exercise performed at higher intensity, alternated  with easier exercise to recover a little.   As your body adapts to this  type of training you will find you will recover quicker.  The best news is you can spend LESS TIME WORKING OUT with this method. A twenty to thirty minute session working hard to very hard is all you need for this style of training.  A word of caution if you are new to
exercise. HIIT workouts are designed for those who have a good fitness base and are ready to add  more demanding
workouts to their already established exercise routine. This style of training is a great way to bust out of plateau, and
ramp up your fitness level. Resist replacing more than one or two of this type of workout in your current routine since
they are physically demanding.

3. Yoga or Flexibility Training-(1to 2 times a week) the physical and mental benefits that Yoga provides
is invaluable; stress reduction, strength and balance, healthy joints, and restoration of the body
and mind. You will get something different out of a Power Yoga class than you would a slower paced Yin Yoga
session so experiment with different styles based on your individual goals.  At Body Wise Fitness we offer a YoCore
Small Group Fitness session which combines the best of standing yoga poses for balance with a fusion of pilates
core work and traditional abdominal exercises.

4. Strength Training-(2 plus times a week) aim to target the major muscle groups a minimum of two times a week
to increase lean muscle tissue, boost metabolism and strengthen the muscles, connective tissue and bones.
Studies have shown that even light weights can help slow down the effects of osteoporosis, which makes the bones
more fragile, and can strike women and men alike as they age. If your goal is to add more muscle to your frame,
gradually increase the weight/frequency as you become stronger. A good rule of thumb is to lift a weight that feels
moderately challenging for your ability level, that allows you to perform 8-15 repetitions with good form.

5. Restoration/Rest-Exercise addicts pay attention… You know who you are!  Rest is vital for repairing the miniscule
tears that muscles undergo when exercising. This is especially important to those doing very challenging cardio
and strength workouts or endurance athletes that push their bodies to the limit. A rest day doesn’t mean being a
couch potato or going on Facebook for the entire day. Make it a day to do something you enjoy…take a walk with a
friend or your pet, get outside with the family for a leisurely bike ride, or take that restorative or meditation class you
have been meaning to try.

The bottom line here folks-there is no magic bullet or any one diet or exercise  that will whip you into shape. Adding variety to your workouts will help you get stronger, more flexible, restored and energized.  Balanced fitness doesn’t mean perfection by any means! Doing so can set you up for failure in the end. Set small attainable goals which focus on overall health and healing rather than strict adherence to a exercise program.

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