Everyone knows that exercise is important! But what if I told you there are certain strategic exercises that will get you better results than working yourself like crazy at the gym? And what if I told you that overall movement, even when not “working out,” is important too?
I know, it’s shocking! Our culture is so focused on working hard to the point we feel like we have to beat ourselves up in the gym. However, with a little guidance we can work smarter rather than harder.
Let’s look at the “why” behind movement and explore the best exercises for lasting results!
The Danger of a Sedentary Life
According to Dr. James Levine, the director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”
What is even more surprising is that the negative effects of sitting are apparent even in those who exercise daily. This is not to say that we shouldn’t exercise. But we need to change our view of movement, focusing on natural movement and exercises that will get us the best results!
Ways To Incorporate Natural Movement in Your Life
When you think about the history of mankind, setting time aside to exercise is a fairly new concept. Movement was simply a part of life for most of our ancestors, as their survival depended on it. They didn’t need to go to a gym, because they moved to secure food, shelter, and safety!
Let’s change our mindset around movement to include natural movement into our lives! How can you do this? Choose one of these ideas to start moving today and then add more as you are able.
- Walk somewhere instead of driving
- Sit on the floor or stand instead of reclining on a couch or a chair with a back
- Take a movement break at work
- Make a phone call while walking or have a walking meeting
- Skip using a convenient tool or food processor to prepare or chop something, and do it yourself with a knife
- Carry your child instead of using a stroller
- Use the basket instead of a grocery cart
- Water your plants with a pail instead of the hose
- Put on music and dance around your house instead of watching TV
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walk on an incline
- Try going barefoot
- Park further away at a store
This type of functional movement gets your whole body moving in natural ways, and it is done in a natural environment! This is very different from the precise repetitive movements that most of our workouts at the gym include.
When You Go to the Gym
In addition to moving throughout the day it is beneficial to set some time aside for intentional exercise. When you do, you’ll want to get the most out of your workout. There is no need to beat yourself up in the gym to get real results. In fact, working hard doesn’t always get the results we would expect.
There was a meta analysis of 43 studies and the results were shocking! The studies followed overweight and obese people for 3-12 months. People in these studies worked out for 45 minutes 3-5 times a week. This resulted in an average of about 69 hours of exercise over the course of the study. Do you know how much the exercise group lost over that period of time? Only 2.2 lbs!!! That’s a lot of work for very little results.
So what specific exercises will get you the results you want? There are two types of workouts that have shown to have the best outcomes. These are High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT) and strength training.
High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT)
In High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) you alternate between short bursts of hard, intense exercise and a little lighter form of exercise. This may be running hard for five minutes followed by a walk or jog. It may be working with weights in this fashion.
The key is to push yourself hard, followed by a more gentle form of movement. This type of workout results in more calories being burned after the exercise as well.
When we say strength training many people immediately think about lifting weights. This is a great way to build strength, but you can also build strength through other forms of resistance training.
Body weight training uses your own body weight and gravity. Things such as planks, pull ups, etc. would count as body weight training that take little to no equipment. Another way to build strength is through resistance bands. This type of workout can be easily done at outside the gym.
A Special Note For Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome(PCOS)
For those with PCOS it is even more beneficial to choose the “right” type of exercise since certain types of exercise can help to stabilize your blood sugar. Insulin resistance is one of the main root causes of PCOS, so anything you can do to stabilize your blood sugar will be beneficial.
High Interval Intensity Training has been found to result in better blood sugar readings for up to three days after the exercise. When you exercise in this way, your cells need glucose for energy. So your body pushes the glucose from the rest of your system and into the cells. The only group of people that I would encourage to start slowly with this type of training are those with a strong stress component.
Strength training also helps stabilize blood sugar. One study found that a 10% increase in muscle was associated with an 11% reduction in the risk of insulin resistance. This may be because using our muscles reduces the amount of glucose in our bloodstream, making the cells more sensitive to insulin. Strength training can also decrease the amount of testosterone found in women with PCOS. Strength training also increases the metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories at rest.
One type of exercise to be a little careful with is endurance training. Excess workouts of this nature can increase cortisol and suppress thyroid functioning.
For more information about this topic, check out this article.
Remember that movement doesn't have to be strenuous. Do yourself a favor and work smarter, not harder! And don’t forget to find joy in your movement, because honestly that is the most important type of movement!
P.S. The right type of exercise is especially important for women with PCOS. Many women with PCOS push themselves in the gym, diet excessively, and still can't those extra pounds. I'm here to tell you that there is a better way. Join me on Oct.1st at noon for a FREE class for women with PCOS who want to loose weight without just being told to eat less and exercise more. (Sign up here.) You won't regret it!