Exercise is good medicine at the right dosage
FITNESS SOLUTIONS Listen to your body — and remember, it’s meant to make you feel good!
Everyone knows exercise is good for you. Whether you want to compete in an adventure race, lose 20 pounds or manage high blood pressure, you can’t really do any of these things effectively without working out.
Exercise can even act like a “preventive drug” when it comes to things like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even some psychiatric disorders.
If you already engage in regular exercise, don’t stop! And if you don’t exercise on a regular basis, there really is too much data about it’s many benefits to ignore and not get started.
The questions then, for someone looking for the maximum benefit of a consistent fitness program, are: What should I be doing? Followed by: How much, how long and how hard?
Like medicine, exercise will do the most for you when it is administered at the right dosage — sometimes called the “Goldilocks Zone.” Not too soft, not too hard. Just right!
Every new client that I see starts with a consultation for gathering relevant information about health status, exercise history, current lifestyle factors, likes, dislikes and goals.
Taking all this into consideration, I use a strategy called the FITT formula for outlining an ideal plan for them. This formula is easy to use yourself to set up a plan that will guarantee your success.
FITT is an acronym that stands for frequency, intensity, time and type. For clients who have orthopedic concerns, specific medical conditions or who might be recovering from surgery, I add a P as well — for “precautions.”
The number of times per week that you actually exercise. This is highly dependent upon your goals and your lifestyle or ability to recover between sessions.
I meet people who have the perfect exercise routine but who simply aren’t following through often enough. On the other hand, doing too much, too often can delay positive results as you move beyond your body’s ability to recover between sessions.
The way the body gets stronger and fitter is by placing new demands on it. So it must adapt by building new muscle or by increasing endurance. One of the easiest ways to do this is to increase the intensity of an exercise. This can be done by moving faster, pushing against greater resistance or decreasing rest breaks between bouts of exercise.
This refers to the amount of time you actually spend in each exercise session. Beginners might start with as little as 10 minutes and then increase as their tolerance to exercise increases. From my experience, there are diminishing returns once someone spends over 60 minutes at any given time in a workout and is a sure sign that their intensity level is too low.
Whether it is walking, yoga, weightlifting or Zumba, the activity must be suited to help you reach your desired outcome. For example: If you want to strengthen your bones to ward off osteoporosis, then Aquafit is not a great choice and you should be lifting weights.
Finally, for clients with special needs, it’s important to consider the “P” — for precautions. For example, an exerciser with high blood pressure should not be holding their breath and straining isometrically when lifting weights while someone who has had a total hip replacement should not cross their legs when going from lying to standing.
In the end, it’s important to listen to your body and decide what is right for you.
The point of exercising is to make you feel good. If it isn’t doing that, evaluate where you might need to make changes and adjust things.
Getting it “right” is as much art as it is science. You’ll know you are on the right path when you start to notice positive changes.