I was talking to a client this morning who mentioned that her local park run event (5km recreational running events held weekly) broke its attendance record and we dully laughed knowing that attendance will most likely drop within the next few weeks.
This will be the same observation in gyms, other recreational sporting events, slimming groups and other dieting support groups.
Dreams built off of lofty goals. Goals that are unreasonable, unmeasured, unhealthy and based on poor knowledge of how to achieve the goals. If you’ve had the new year resolution conversation, I’m sure you’ve heard something along the lines of, “I want to lose 5kg”, or “I want to get fitter”, whatever that means. I bet you’ll rarely hear, “I am promising to myself to get healthier”.
And that, ultimately is why anyone should start to exercise – to improve ones health.
Health goals could include:
- Losing fat.
- Lowering stress.
- Sleeping better.
- Lowering blood pressure.
- Lower risk factors associated with heart disease and cancers.
- Rebalancing hormones.
Here’s one interesting fact. Aerobic exercise carried out daily has repetitively shown to help ease or remedy all of the above. Additionally, addressing any one of the above items has been shown to help with the others on the list.
Wanting to exercise to improve your 5km run time or increase your deadlift should be queued behind having great health first.
So let’s clear up what great health is and what does that mean in relation to the above list.
If you are overweight, your health is at risk. It doesn’t matter how happy you are if you are overweight, the facts of the matter are that carrying around excess weight be it from extra fat or muscle (now that’ll rattle a few people) is or will negatively affect your health.
A simple way to measure if you are overweight apart from the obvious, is this guide.
If your waist is more than twice you height or BMI is over 25 then you are overweight.
Stress is pretty much self determined and heavily influenced by the the things we do onto ourselves. Not always of course, but the way we react to day to day stresses varies from person to person.
Some signs of stress:
If you are getting angry at people around you or at yourself, you are stressed.
If your sleep is affected by not being able to let go of your day to day difficulties, you are stressed.
If you are experiencing negative feelings or emotions about yourself, you are stressed.
If you are getting frequent headaches, chances are you are unduly stressed.
If you are experiencing stomach, gut and bowel problems such as heartburn, acid stomach, flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, then your body is under stress.
If your blood pressure is higher than healthy thresholds, then your body is under stress.
If you’ve just increased your weekly high intensity exercise by more than 20%, you are stressing your body unduly.
If you only perform high intensity exercise, you are putting your body under excess stress.
If you drink more than the recommended units of alcohol per day, you are stressing your body.
… The list could go on. For many of these, talking to your doctor is vital.
The presence of ill-health is a clear indicator too that hard exercise has no place in your routine.
The point is, if your body is not operating as it normally should, it is under stress. Taking on extra and ‘intensive activities’ has no place in your weekly routine until good health is restored. Hard exercise is a stressor on the body so adding more stress to an already stressed system should clearly be seen as unwise.
The picture being painted here so far is that hard exercise has no place in the life of an unhealthy person that includes one who is overweight, overstressed and under sleeping.
If you are a beginner and overweight and maybe exhibiting some other health issues and you want to improve your health and fitness, going out for a run, carrying out some random HIIT workout from Youtube is NOT what you should be prioritising.
Remember at the start I mentioned the health benefits of aerobic activities? That is where you should start. It might not be the most exciting or stimulating, but you know what, getting injured, having a heart attack or stressing your body to throw up after your run is not much fun either.
Every new endeavour must start with reasonable actions that are repeatable for the rest of your life. Yep, you’re in that body for a very long time and it is your choice whether you thrive or barely just survive.
How about starting with a 30 minute walk, every day. You don’t need a membership or even fancy workout clothing. Just stick on your shoes, open the door and go walk. Do close the door behind you of course 😉
Over a week of walking you’ll expose yourself to a bit of sun, increase your Vit D, breathe and stimulate your heart and lungs and start to switch on some muscles that have been inactive for a while all with a low intensity form of exercise that you were born to do.
Forget the high intensity stressors. Feed and love your body and promise to yourself to do so every day of your life.