I love this quote:
“Movement is medicine for changing a person’s physical, emotional, and mental state.”
Indeed, recent research has demonstrated that exercise is more effective in treating depression than antidepressant medications! Beyond that, we all know that exercise helps us lose weight and build lean muscle. Wow! Exercise helps reshape the body, brighten the spirits, and sharpen the mind. I’m sold! How about you?
The biggest question I get about exercise is: “What type of exercise should I do?” Well, for starters, any exercise is better than none. The best exercise is the kind of exercise you’ll actually do. But if you want to really reshape your body, you’ll need to do mostly high intensity exercise.
Two types of high intensity exercise work best.
- Strength training
- High intensity interval/conditioning training
While most of us think of strength training as something reserved for bodybuilders and strongmen, nothing could be farther from the truth. While strength training can be done in the gym with weights, it also can be done with dumbbells, sandbags, old tractor tires, exercise bands, or even your own body weight. And all of this can be done at home, at a local park, or at a community center. The real key is challenging your body through six key movement patterns:
Be creative with this and most importantly, have fun! Let me know if you need some ideas - I have tons of great strength training workouts that are both challenging and effective.
In addition to strength exercise, you should also include some conditioning exercise, often referred to as cardio. Now, although most people think of long jogs, bike rides, or the Stairmaster, this type of exercise is not all that effective. Indeed, high intensity interval exercise, in which you work really hard for 20-90 seconds, rest, work hard again, rest again, has been shown to be the most effective form of conditioning work.
Below are two examples of my favorite forms of conditioning exercise: interval circuits.
1.) 30 seconds each of the following:
- Ball Toss
- Flying lunge
- T – Push-ups
- Leg lunges
2.) Treadmill intervals
- First, do a 5 minute walking warm up.
- Next, set your treadmill at an incline of 15% and a speed of 8 mph.
- Run for 20 seconds.
- Next, recover for 10 seconds (jumping off while the treadmill is still going along).
- Again, 20 seconds of running.
- And 10 seconds of recovery.
Try to do this for 5 total minutes. Then, take a 5 minute rest and do it all over again. In total, it’s a 15-minute workout. And believe it or not, this workout is way more effective at burning fat and improving her conditioning than 45-60 minutes of walking or jogging!
Thus, my recommendation: in addition to the 3 weight training workouts per week, add in 1 circuit workout and 1 sprint workout, at least at first.
You probably think of your exercise time in terms of single workouts - “60 minutes three times per week”. I encourage you to think of it in terms of total time per week.
Research that has been done in conjunction with the University of Wyoming has demonstrated that 5 hours per week is the magic number. Anything less fails to produce results while 5 hours or more of exercise produces great results.
To reach the 5 hour threshold, and to help you recover from this high intensity work, finish your week with some very low intensity cardio work: Walk around the block. Go for a bike ride. That’s the sort of stuff I mean. Lower intensity yoga counts too. 30 minutes 3x per week should do the trick.
Tune in next time where I’ll discuss the nutritional component of the puzzle. Take it upon yourself today to commit to some form of exercise on a daily basis. You’ll be glad you did!
Alissa Robertson, MS, RD