I love to exercise. But I didn’t always love it. I grew up swimming and I didn’t really consider that exercise. It wasn’t, it was just playing and having fun in pool. Even when I swam competitively I never it took it that seriously; I swam because I liked it. When I was in high school I played soccer for the first time. Actually, I ran for the first time, and I struck the ground with my heel so hard that with each stride it hurt more and more. So literally my coach and teammates had to teach me how to run. When I went to college I didn’t have a team to play soccer with or swim team to compete on, so I basically stopped exercising. It wasn’t something I thought much about, which was particularly odd for an exercise physiology student.
As I learned more about the health benefits of exercise I did begin to workout in a more conventional style, but I was pretty uncomfortable. I knew how to workout because I was studying exercise, but I was intimidated in gyms and felt awkward and out of breath when I ran. Nonetheless, I had learned that exercise was an essential part of being healthy and living a long productive life.
The key to my love for exercise is that I learned that it was a requirement for being healthy. There’s no way around it. Our bodies are meant to move. Thus exercise simply became a part of how I live my life.
I’ve been exercising consistently since 1999. That’s a while now and so if you are new to exercise, please take my favorite workouts in stride and be safe. Reaching for too much too soon will leave you injured and/or frustrated. That said, I don’t workout for hours or do debilitating complicated workouts. I like quick and effective workouts that require little to no equipment. I hope that by sharing some of my favorites you’ll find something new to try.
I enjoy running and it often takes over and prevents me from engaging in other forms of exercise. I appreciated Debbie’s words of wisdom to branch out and move my body in different ways other than just running. So, I’m trail running! I know, not much of a difference, but trail running has many advantages over road running. You gain more balance and core strength, and you climb in elevation on a trail, which leads to varying speeds and incorporates different muscles. A good friend asked me to do a trail race and it was perfect timing to incorporate something new. This is my super awesome sister and me on our first trail run in ages; our amazing view is pictured above.
During the week, I aim for 2-3 runs and on the weekend I run with my sister and some friends so that’s another 2 days. Inevitably life happens, and I typically run 1-2 times during the week and one of those is an interval workout. An interval workout comes in handy when I don’t have 30 minutes to dedicate to a workout. Interval workouts can be done in a variety of ways. I usually run as hard as I can for 30-60 seconds and then walk for 30-90 seconds. I repeat each interval about 6-10 times. An interval workout is a super hard workout that’s over in 15 minutes. Plus, 15 minutes of intervals may be more advantageous than 30 minutes of continuous exercise for both fitness and weight loss. The goal with any type of intervals is to work really hard, recover and then repeat. It’s a great way to challenge yourself to do more. But you must stay safe and so if you are new to exercise talk with an experienced personal trainer, like Debbie, or a physical therapist before you start.
I love how strong I feel when I am lifting weights and doing body weight exercises. I think this is a benefit that is particularly important for women to improve self-esteem and self-confidence. I also lift weights to improve bone density and maintain strength and function as I age. I want to be able to do everything I do now and more when I am 80 years old. So here are few of my favorite strength workouts:
My husband purchased this book to mix up his lifting routine and we each love it. It’s easy to read and is filled with photos with clear directions on how to perform the exercises. The book covers home workouts, gym workouts, workouts that can be done on travel, and more. Right now I am mixing it up between two dumbbell workouts and a kettle bell workouts. Again, based on Debbie’s encouragement to incorporate a variety of different types of exercises to prevent muscle imbalances, I finally got around to purchasing a kettle bell. Wow! What amazing core strength you can build with a kettle bell.
Based on an article published in the American College of Sport Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal this workout was posted in the New York Times and has become very popular. It is a high intensity interval workout that uses only body weight exercises. The workout can be completed in 7-21 minutes and can be done by anyone anywhere. There are no excuses with this workout.
My home gym workout
I have 15 minute workout I do at home with dumbbells and body weight exercise. Lunges, squats, overhead press, wide and narrow push-ups and planks. I do these as a circuit with 6-12 repetitions of each exercise and repeat the circuit two times. If you don’t know to do those exercises, consult with a trainer or physical therapist to have a home workout created for you. All the major muscle groups are covered and these are functional movement exercises, meaning the motions mimic movements used in daily life. For example, the muscles strengthen in a squat are the same muscles used to get out of a chair, and the shoulder muscles used in an overhead press are used when putting groceries away on a top shelf. This makes exercise more meaningful for me because I can envision how I want my body to move when I am older. Of course I am not really thinking about when I work out, I simply know that it’s good for me and makes me feel good.
Find what you like
It’s taken me years to overcome insecurities in running and in the gym; insecurities that I wasn’t “good” at exercise. But here I am; I’m loving exercise! I hope you find a meaning behind exercise that allows you to find a variety of exercises that you love to do.