Most of us have heard how the lack of exercise is leading us to more and more health issues. From obesity to heart problem and some cancers, a lot of today’s illnesses have been linked to our sedentary life style. So some people try to go to the gym once a week or go for a run at the end of their working day and get real benefit from it. They are fitter, more relaxed, and have more energy all together.
1- Exercise Is Good For Your Health
Exercise is a fantastic way to help the energy and the blood in your body move. After sitting for hours in our car, in front of our desk and computer, exercise allows us:
- To move the energy in the body
- To stimulate the whole body
- To strengthen and regulate the different systems in the body
By doing so, it makes us fitter but also healthier. Exercise helps the energy moves around in the body better, a very good reason why exercise is fantastic to deal with stress and all the issues linked to it (from poor sleep to IBS or anxiety).
Stress can also lead to a feeling of tiredness. When the energy doesn’t flow smoothly in the body, when the energy gets ‘stuck’, the body can’t function optimally. So we feel tired. This is why we can feel much more energetic after a workout. The exercise has helped releasing the energy that was there in the first place but wasn’t ‘accessible’ anymore.
When exercise is good for you, you should feel:
- Keen to exercise (daily)
- Happy (ranging from excitement to deep contentment) immediately following exercise
- Energized and optimistic after exercise
- A gradual improvement in strength, endurance, and flexibility (physical, as well as mental/emotional)
- An improvement in all aspects and quality of life
- A gradual reduction in symptoms of any lingering illness
- An increased immune system strength, as evidenced by fewer common colds and illnesses
2- But Sometimes, Exercise Is Not Good for You.
Here is the case of Sam, a man in in his mid-30s who started to run to get a bit fitter. He enjoyed it so much, he did longer and longer runs until he decided to train for a marathon. For 5 years, he has been running an average of 5 miles a day and has been doing several marathons each year. But for some time now, he also has started to have problems with his sleep, he needs to get up to go to the loo once or twice every night, something he wasn’t expecting to happen until well into his 60s. He also developed some anxiety and was catching every cold or bugs passing by. Sam was a very fit man but he wasn’t healthy any more. So what was going on?
Sam has been over exercising, going over his own limits energy wise and after a while, it has started to have some effects on his health.
Look at Casey, a young woman who has been diagnosed with ME. She can still go to work but collapses when she arrives back home. She has a quick meal and goes to bed. For Casey, trying to reach the 2~3 hours of exercise a week as recommended by our guidelines
would be very probably send her to bed for a few days.
You are doing too much exercise when you experience:
- Lethargy or low energy following the exercise routine
- Pain or soreness prohibiting further exercise
- Negative attitude following training or towards the exercise, in general
- Frequent exercise-related injuries
- The need to reduce intensity of the specific exercise over time
- The need for significant, regular training aids, such as equipment (e.g. wrist/knee support), liniments (pre- or post- workout), and dietary supplements.
3- So How Much Should You Exercise?
For exercise to be beneficial, you will need to find the right sort of exercise for you as well as the right intensity/length.
This will vary for one person to the next as well as from one week to the next.
You might want to use the guidelines of 2.5 hours a week as a starting point and then work out what is working best for you.
Casey, our woman with ME, might want to try a 10 min gentle walk to start with or try some gently exercise such as yoga.
Sam will need to reduce the length of his daily training and ensure he is scheduling some days rest after running a marathon.
The most important thing is to find the right balance for you between replenishing your energy through exercise and spending energy exercising so that you get the full benefit, getting fitter and healthier.
In my next blog post, I will be looking at how to best exercise (how, when, what to do).
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