Question: I am extremely stressed out this year and my sister says I need daily exercise. With my busy schedule, exercise is the last thing I have time to do. Can it really help?
Jay’s answer: We get done what we make time to get done. It’s a matter of priority. Let me give you some perspective. A recent report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that between 1995 and 2008, more than 30 studies involving more than 175,000 participants were conducted in the area of stress. The results consistently showed that exercise decreases stress levels, depression and anxiety, while increasing feelings of well-being.
Most of the studies used bouts of moderate to more intense “cardio” exercise performed for 30-45 minutes per session.
The research exclaims it loud and clear! Exercise is the best medicine for stress! If you could take just 30 minutes out of your day to help yourself deal with stress and feel better, isn’t that worth fitting into your busy schedule?
Take one thing that stresses you out OFF your schedule, to make room for this one GOOD thing that makes you feel better and “deal” better! It’s a no-brainer.
Question: This time of year I usually transition to biking and hiking for my exercise and typically don’t go to the gym until fall. My trainer disagrees with my seasonal lack of commitment to structured exercise. Is she right?
Heidi’s answer: Yes, and no ...
On one hand, some seasonal changing of your routine, or “periodization” is a good thing. It’s how athletes train in order to peak for their competitive season and playoffs.
Just like an athlete, your body needs variety and needs to be constantly challenged in new and different ways in order to stay sharp.
On the other hand, some basic and important aspects of fitness need to be addressed no matter the season. Too much variety without any structure is no good.
Are you stimulating your muscle mass adequately and consistently in the summer (minus your trainer) or are you losing strength?
Is your routine in summer regular and intense enough to maintain your cardiovascular fitness? How about your flexibility?
Often I hear people say they hike in the summer and don’t need the gym. When I ask them how often they hike, it often comes out to once a week. That’s not an exercise program!
My advice is to meet your trainer somewhere in the middle. Don’t completely abandon your structured exercise for an entire 4-6 months. Just modify it and mix it in with your wonderful outdoor activities to fill in the gaps this summer. You’ll be ahead of the game this fall and not feel like you are starting over every year, but rather, getting better and building on the last!
Jay Bryan is an exercise physiologist and Heidi Bryan is a certified personal trainer.
To ask Jay or Heidi a question, e-mail them at email@example.com.
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