Tag Archives: exercise motivation

Tips for finding an online cardio workout that is right for you

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (1)Online exercise has become a lifeline for exercising during the COVID-19 outbreak.  It’s always a good idea to have as many options for exercise as possible.  This challenging time is an opportunity to find new ways to exercise when time and equipment are limited.   I am hearing from many people how they are discovering old favorites and new ways to exercise.

Here are some things to look for when searching for online cardio exercise:

    • If the cardio involves using hand weights or bands to add upper body toning or more calorie burning, do the exercises without anything in your hands. Studies show adding upper body resistance does not burn more calories and puts more strain on your upper body joints (shoulders especially).   Just enjoy moving and do strength training separately to strengthen your upper body.    The same goes for wearing ankle weights when walking or doing cardio; the risks far outweigh the benefit
    • High Intensity Interval Training is very ‘in’ right now.  Some people love exercising at a super high intensity. For most people, it is NOT a positive experience.  Considering that your brain is hardwired to avoid what makes you feel worse, you may want to reconsider HIIT training if you don’t love it.  There is  more research that shows moderate intensity cardio has plenty of benefits and it is much more enjoyable for most people.  You can still do intervals, just keep them between moderate to comfortable challenge for your breathing and stay away from the uncomfortable levels.
    • If the program has very complicated moves that limit your ability to keep moving, choose something that has more simple moves.  (examples below) The goal of cardio is to move continuously. If the moves in the cardio program are so complicated you end up standing still until you figure them out, it will not be as beneficial as something that keeps you moving.
    • If your lower body is limited by pain, try seated aerobics (links below) or doing a hybrid of seated and standing.  This is a great option to improve stamina without straining weight bearing joints.  If it seems like it won’t be challenging enough, I challenge you to give it a try.  🙂

Here are some free resources you might try for cardio:

Basic aerobics:  Walk at home has great videos for free online as well as a subscription for more videos including an app. (Reminder, skip holding onto anything in your hand when doing the ones they include bands)  They even have a video with all men, which is not easy to find with aerobics videos.  Body Groove is a paid subscription but there is a sample you can try. If you like to dance, you might enjoy this approach that is very body positive and friendly for all sizes.

Seated aerobics videos free online: Fuzion Fitness is a great seated dance exercise program.  Paul Eugene  offers a wide variety of videos that are higher intensity (and his smile is contagious).   The Walk at Home videos are simple enough they can be done in seated as well.

Kickboxing:  Tae Bo on YouTube is offering some fresh workouts just for the pandemic.

Next week we will focus on  what to look for in strength training videos online.

Keep Moving and Be Well






by | May 4, 2020 · 6:34 pm

Collect your exercise ‘gems’ before heading into 2019

Before you dive into your new years plans to ‘get back on track’, pause for just a moment.

Why pause? I am ready to move on!

Because you don’t want to leave behind the ‘gems’ from 2018.

What do you mean by the ‘gems’ of 2018?

Those things that you learned about what works and does not work for you to get the most out of exercise. I am not talking about what you did for exercise that helped you lose weight and inches though. No, we are going for the even bigger gems. We want to capture what worked to keep you exercising regularly.

Why is consistency more important than pounds and inches lost?

Because unless you want that success for only a brief moment in time, consistency with exercise is the key. Something that ‘worked’ temporarily is great if you want to make 2019 a constant struggle to stay motivated. (I didn’t think so…). If you want 2019 to be a bit easier, pause and jot down all the ways you exercised consistently. What made them easy to stick with? Next write down all the things you did only temporarily. What got in the way?

Now, look at your list of what worked and what did not. These are your gems. In the coming year, when you are tempted to do those types of programs that sound great but you are not so sure you can stick with, take out your gems and see how you can turn it into something you know you can stick with long term.

Make a resolution to make consistency with exercise the most important factor when choosing what to do. By staying ‘up to date’ on what works to keep you moving, your confidence for exercise motivation will be stronger every year and so will your success with weight loss.

Keep moving, be well, and have a very happy new year!


Leave a comment

by | December 31, 2018 · 3:37 pm

Beware: Misconceptions about exercise are often in disguise

Copy of bake bread(19).pngHalloween is around the corner, so seeing folks in disguise is to be expected. When it comes to exercise advice, stay aware all year long, because misconceptions about exercise are often presented as expert advice in the well-meaning popular media.

This video is a reminder that even when exercise advice is from a well-regarded professional with lots of enthusiasm, it can still be full of myths and misconceptions.

Here is where the advice given in that video needs an exercise science ‘fact check’:

  1. From the image in the thumbnail of the woman lifting weights with an excruciating expression on her face, to the headline “extreme exercise”, to the benefits he lists about HIIT training, this video is promoting a high intensity training.  The misconception is that it is better for health because it will burn more calories and raise metabolic rate “than low intensity” training.  (notice it was not compared to moderate intensity).   The most important fine print here is that when your brain experiences pain or discomfort it sets up a habit loop to AVOID exercise.   You, as the savvy fitness consumer need to ask yourself, is the drain on your motivation worth burning just a few more calories?
  2. The heart rate equation he offers is a prediction equation to estimate where you might want to keep your heart rate during cardiovascular exercise.  It is meant to be a guide.  Heart rate is not the best guide when it comes to cardio for most people (yes, honestly!)  This equation that is used often in fitness centers, has a 15 beat error to it.  This is not a great error rate for a number you are using to guide your body.  With all the things that effect your heart rate, from medications to caffeine to stress, you are MUCH better off using your breathing level to self check during cardio.
  3. Sweat is your body cooling itself off. That is it!  Sweating does not mean you are burning more calories or fat or getting a “better workout” in any way, shape or form.  There is just no science behind this despite the fact that you hear that advice given often.   Please do not use sweat as a goal for exercise and don’t listen to anyone who tells you to either.

Before doing HIIT training, consider the pros and cons very carefully.  Many more studies show that moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise, that challenges your breathing at a moderate to comfortable (not uncomfortable) level, for 20-30 minutes three days a week will improve your stamina just fine. As long as you are consistent, your body and your health will benefit.  And that is the point. When exercise feels good for your body, your brain will encourage you to keep coming back for more so sticking with it to keep getting those benefits will be MUCH easier!

Keep Moving, Be Well,


PS: I hope you never, ever think you need to look like the woman in that image to get the benefits of exercise.  That is NOT exercise for health and well-being.


Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.




Leave a comment

by | October 22, 2018 · 5:59 pm

Let’s simplify exercise for weight loss

Copy of bake bread(8)Calories in, calories out.  This little equation sounds like such a simple solution to weight loss.  However, this vast oversimplification has greatly complicated our relationship with all kinds of physical movement. In the end, this equation has lowered the ability of exercise to help with sustaining a healthy weight.

Why?  Because it leaves too many people feeling like they need to  push their body in order to burn more calories to make the scale move.   I often hear of people suffering through an exercise program in order to someday feel better.  This unnecessary suffering through exercise, only leads to lowered motivation.  The long-term problem is that it makes it much harder to pick yourself up to start exercising again once you get off track.   You can end up caught between dreading exercise yet knowing you need it to burn those calories.

Between a rock and a hard place is no easy place to live.

Since calorie burning is vastly unpredictable, person to person and day to day, one part of this simple equation is not reliable.  Even though this equation is not the solution to weight loss, it is continually promoted in the way the media talks about exercise.

The bottom line is, you want to lose weight because you care about yourself.  If you didn’t care, you would not be trying to lose weight.  When exercise is about tricking your body, pushing it to exhaustion or ignoring pain all to burn more calories, we can easily forget that this whole effort is about self care.

So, I invite you to wipe that whole calorie burning thing out of your mind.  Instead, design exercise to be a time in your day that you take care of your body.   Whether it is in several small bouts each day or one longer bout, do it with full focus on taking care of your body. Not to burn calories, or just “get it done”, but with the intention of taking care of your body.

Admittedly, this is a big challenge.  This mindset about exercise and calorie burning is pretty strong.  It will not be easy to let go of the idea you need exercise to burn as many calories as you can each day.

The reality is though, research shows over and over that self-criticism drains motivation and self-kindness leads to lasting motivation.  This mindset shift about exercise from a way to burn more calories and fix your body, to a way to take care of your body, makes motivation much easier and that simplifies this whole process!

The ability to simplify means to

eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak 

Hans Hoffmann

Keep Moving, Be Well,


1 Comment

by | July 25, 2018 · 4:39 pm