The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 150min of ‘moderate intensity exercise’ including TWO sessions of strength sessions a week for optimum bone, muscle and brain health.
For overall health and wellbeing rest/digest/restore practices are also recommended. These include mindfulness, slow movement to breath, breathing exercises and meditation. All of which calm the nervous system and balance out the fast paced life we live in. If you feel you might be chronically stressed, needing to lose weight around your midsection or are going through menopause, these practices are even more important[SM1] .
How to know whether you’re under exercising or over exercising
We believe that motion is lotion, and that movement is an integral part of any healthy lifestyle.
In clinical practice we tend to see two different categories – the under exercisers and the over exercisers.
If you don’t have a regular exercise routine or variety of exercise, you are likely under exercising. Just doing the same type of exercise every week, such as only walking with no strength work; only yoga with no resistance; or only strength work with no cardio training are prime examples of not getting an adequate variety of movement within an exercise routine. Not being able to find time to exercise or doing the bare minimum requirements are also examples of under exercising.
People often cite many reasons for keeping things ticking along in the same old way, and we find our clients may want to change things up and add variety but don’t really know how. They aren’t sure how to push their bodies safely and they can be wary of the discomfort changes in intensity can create.
The problem with under exercising is that simple daily activities such as cleaning the house, lifting shopping bags, looking after children can become a struggle and eventually causing unnecessary sprains and strains.
Then, there are the over exercisers; those with exercise routines packed with high intensity training, spin classes, running, strength sessions and MORE.
Exercising at this capacity and level of repeated intensity, can put additional pressure on the body and end up ultimately doing more harm than good.
While the benefits of high intensity training are well researched and documented, over doing strenuous intense exercise, coupled with our already frantic lifestyles can simply result in us feeling “twired”, that uncomfortable combination of tired but wired. High intensity also exercise triggers a flood of stress hormones into our already stressed-out bodies, the long term effects of which may result in a host of symptoms such as low libido, hormone imbalances, sugar cravings, lowered immunity, fatigue/exhaustion even after adequate sleep and weight gain. These effects can be particularly experienced by pre/menopausal women.
On the physical front, injuries we tend to see in over exercisers are usually “loading” injuries, ie. injuries developed by doing too much too soon, not taking adequate rest between sessions, or sudden increases in volume of exercise. We saw a spike of tendon issues and sprains during lockdown because a lot of people suddenly increased or changed their exercise routines. For example, switching rapidly from going to the gym to running (without an appropriate programme) meant we saw and treated an influx of plantarfascitis and tendon injuries, while those who were keen to dabble in exercise for the first time by following unsupervised YouTube videos came up with a wide range of strains and sprains.
Enlisting the support of a qualified professional who can guide you in the right direction in terms of amount of exercise and how to challenge yourself safely. A physiotherapist will pay special consideration to your overall health, body type and injury history helping you to find the right balance for your specific needs.
How do I choose the right exercise for me?
A few questions to consider when making this choice.
· why do I want to exercise?
· what are my goals?Do I want to improve my health, get stronger, rehab an injury, lose weight, improve my mobility? etc. etc.
· what type of movements and settings do I enjoy?
· do I prefer exercising alone or with others?
· will this type of exercise help me achieve my goals?
· are my goals realistic at this point in time within the framework of my current commitments?
· what elements might influence me in my ability to commit? Such as work life, family, sleep, stress, previous/current injuries, overall health, previous experiences and personal belief systems
· who is qualified to assist me in my journey?
It’s really most important to find a way of moving your body and exercising that brings you joy and leaves you energised versus depleted.