Tag Archives: exercise

Keep moving. Especially now!

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (16)For each and every one of us, life is more stressful right now.  Our daily routines have shifted.  Nearly every aspect of our life is Affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

This is why we need to Keep Moving. Especially now:

  • Stress puts your body in a state where healing, repair and protection from illness are down regulated as it prepares to handle the ‘threat’.
  • Stress makes thinking clearly and creatively more challenging.
  • All that happens in your body during this stress response is preparing your body to move, to fight or flee the problem.
  • If you are moving less, and stressing more, your body has a lower defense against illness and your ability to creatively deal with the multitude of problems this situation presents is lowered.
  • Movement, that is stress reducing, is your best way to put your body back in a healing and protective state.

How to use movement and exercise to help you stay mentally and physically well right now:

  • For everyone:
    • This is not the time to greatly increase and challenge your body.    Doing too much too soon is stressful for your body and lowers its defenses.
    • This is also not the time to give up on exercise.  Adjust what you are doing so your body can help keep you well
    • This is a great time to start moving regularly if you don’t already.
    • Use exercise and movement to reduce stress.  That is most important right now.
  • If you regularly exercise
    • keep in mind that something is better than nothing.  Even shorter, less intense bouts of exercise can do wonders for you physically and mentally.
    • This is a great time to discover something new.  The internet is full of exercise programs.
    • Start slow and progress gradually with any new form of exercise so it is not stressful for your body
  • If you do not exercise regularly,
    • take small movement breaks for as long as feels good for your body to avoid prolonged stillness
    • at a light to moderate intensity for your breathing and muscles
    • repeat several times a day avoiding more than 30-60 minutes of stillness
    • move in ways that calm your mind, make you smile, and feel good for your body
    • Walk, dance, stretch, anything that feels good mentally and physically

I will continue to post information on this site about how to keep moving and be well during this pandemic.  Post your questions and comments below and let’s keep reminding each other to Keep Moving. Especially now.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

 

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by | March 18, 2020 · 2:45 pm

Ready? Set? Spring!

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (14)

This weekend, we turn the clocks ahead, which means more daylight at the end of the day.  This is awesome news for those of you who (like me) crave outdoor time and feel more energy to move when the days are longer.

Before we jump into Spring, there is an important question that will make next Winter easier to manage.

What was your biggest takeaway from your exercise routine this past Winter? 

It does not matter if you exercised or not, there is still some great information to be gained by asking this question right now when it is fresh in your mind.

Take a moment right now to write down what worked well and what you want to do differently next Winter.  Tuck it away in your calendar for October 2020.   When the days get shorter, I will remind you to pull out that list and we will make a plan for your Spring Training 2021.

If your Spring Training did not go as planned this past Winter, forgive yourself, learn from what happened, and then give your body time to adapt before jumping into all the Springtime activities.

If your Spring Training went well this past Winter, get out there and enjoy the benefits of your dedication this past Winter.

Either way, keep learning about how to keep moving all year long.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | March 4, 2020 · 4:59 pm

How can I exercise to lose weight when moving is painful?

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (11)Many people want to lose weight because their body is in pain and are hoping weight loss will help. They know eating right and exercising are keys to weight loss, but when movement is painful, it seems even more overwhelming to lose weight.    If this catch 22 sounds familiar, let’s take a closer look to find how you can exercise  even when you are dealing with pain issues.  Ironically, it is not about pushing through pain to get to your goal weight. Here is why:

  1. Pain is complex and involves signals from the brain. The level of pain does not equal the level of injury, or any injury at all.   Evidence of this came from the fact that people who had a limb amputated still had pain in that part of their body. Its called Phantom Pain and inspired neurosciences to investigate the source of pain symptoms.
  2. Usually, pain is a signal from your body to your brain to tell you there is something wrong and it needs your attention. However, acute (initial) pain and chronic (long term) pain are different and need to be treated differently.
  3. The term “good sore” does not make any sense.   There is absolutely no evidence that muscles need soreness to get stronger, nor that when you are sore you are burning more calories, fat or making more progress.  Muscle soreness is only a sign of doing too much too soon.

The first thing to remember about pain is that it creates a ‘negative habit loop’ for your brain about exercise.  That means, if exercise leads to pain, it is much more likely your brain will start making excuses why you cannot exercise.  Pushing your body to do more than it is ready to do, only gets you more stuck.

The irony here is that when you learn to listen to your body and work with it, you end up exercising in a way your body and your brain can do long term.  That consistency with exercise that leaves you feeling better in your body, rather than worse, and is the way exercise will help you with weight loss and health.

The details of how to do that depends on many factors including where you have pain, how long you have had it for and the cause of the pain.

If it is arthritis pain, you need to find the sweet spot of moving often enough so your joints don’t stiffen up from lack of movement, but not doing so much that it increases inflammation and causes more pain.

If it is an autoimmune illness like fibromyalgia, starting at a much lower level that what you think you should do, and using a slower progression is the way to work with your body.  Also knowing different types of exercise you can do for different stages of the illness.  For example, stretching during a flare up so you maintain mobility and help lower inflammation.

If it is back pain, knowing how your core is designed to function is essential for moving in a way that reduces your pain.

The specifics here are beyond the scope of this blog, but the overarching message is to listen to your body by using mindfulness; presence with kindness.  Starting with that mindset, you will be more willing to listen to your body and give it what it needs to help calm the pain signals.

Living with pain is not easy, to put it mildly.  Thankfully there is so much great new information from scientific research that has given us a better understanding about pain.  The more you understand your body, and the more self compassion you can have for the situation you are in right now,  the better you will be able to move away from pain and toward more comfort and function in your body.   For all of you in this situation, please know exercising without pain is possible.  I have seen it happen over and over again. Stay curious, mindful and most importantly be kind to yourself.  

Keep moving, be well

Janet

 

 

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by | February 26, 2020 · 4:58 pm

Spring Training Check In: What direction are you heading?

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (10)

In November, we started Spring Training.  Staying active and consistently exercising through the winter is challenging.  It becomes more motivating when you realize you are doing it for a purpose, like to enjoy the activities you like to do on that first beautiful Spring day.

With are only five weeks until the first official day of Spring, it’s time to check in. Which direction are you heading in?  Are you on the path to a Spring that starts with soreness and limitations or are you on the path to a Spring that allows you to do the activities you need and want to do with ease?

If your motivation has taken you off the path to an easy and enjoyable time in Spring, lets renew your energy for Spring Training.

Close your eyes and fast forward to the first beautiful day in Spring.  Ask yourself the following:

  • What do I want to be able to do in Spring?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What do I need to do that activity – more strength, stamina,  mobility?
  • What is one thing I can do starting today that will tell my body to build more of that over the next five weeks?

The great news is, exercise does not need to take a lot of time, it only needs to be done consistently and your body will adapt.  Starting your day with one set of an exercise that you know will improve your strength.  Taking five to ten minutes before dinner to dance or walk.   Before going to bed each night doing that one stretch that you know feels so good.  These are so small you might think they are not worth it, but think again.  It’s the natural laws of nature that they will work.   Just like snow is designed to melt at a certain temperature, your body is designed to adapt to what you give it.   Let it know you  are in Spring Training and it will keep you on a path to a more enjoyable season ahead.

Keep Moving, Be Well, Think Spring!

Janet

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by | February 11, 2020 · 8:58 pm

How can exercise keep your immune system strong?

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (9)

Cold and flu season are in full swing. With news stories of worldwide of flu rates, you are probably trying to do the extras to stay healthy this season.   Here is how exercise can help keep your immune system strong.

How does exercise help your immune system protect you from illness?

Some of these theories according to Medline Plus are:

  • Exercise may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.
  • Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells (WBC). WBCs are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. These antibodies or WBCs circulate more rapidly, so they could detect illnesses earlier than they might have before. However, no one knows whether these changes help prevent infections.
  • The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better. (This is similar to what happens when you have a fever.)
  • Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones. Some stress increases the chance of illness. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness.

How much is enough exercise to help keep your immune system strong? 

This study found that just twenty minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise was enough to have significant improvements in immune system function by having an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.  Some studies show that exercising over an hour or exercising to exhaustion can actually lower the immune systems ability to fight off those germs you are encountering every day.  Moderate intensity is the amount that feels comfortable, not uncomfortable,  for your breathing.

How does exercise help you recover well from illness?

Even if you do end up with a cold or flu, exercise is an important part of ensuring your body gets back to its usual functioning level as soon as possible.  When you are recovering from an illness, bed rest is needed.  During bed rest your body can lose up to 12% of its strength per week. Your connective tissue, bone and cardiovascular system all lose function during that time too.  Getting back to a regular exercise routine helps you regain what you have lost so your body can make a full recovery and your immune system can bounce back quicker.  When you restart exercise, start at less than 50% of what you were doing before you got sick.    Most importantly, listen to your body!  If it increases fatigue, cut it back even more.   If it gives you energy and makes you feel better you know you found the right ‘starting dose’ of exercise to help your recover.  Increase by about 10% per week, and continue to listen to your body. 

Bottom Line:  A simple lunchtime walk or family dance party before dinner could be all you need to use exercise as part of the ways you stay well this season.  Exercise does not need to be complicated or fatiguing, just consistent so those everyday germs don’t stand a chance in your healthy and well body.

Keep moving, Be well!

Janet

 

 

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by | February 5, 2020 · 7:31 pm

Stretching: Three benefits you may not know (part 1)

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (5)

When you think of stretching exercises, what do you imagine?  If the thought of stretching sounds boring, a waste of time, or something you just are not flexible enough to do,  let’s take a new look at stretching and three benefits you may not know.  

The science of stretching lags behind the research on other types of exercise.  With less facts, we have more myths.  One of the biggest myths is that stretching is about making muscles longer.  The fact is, stretching has less to do with your muscles and more to do with three other parts of your body; your nervous system, fascia system, and  lymph system.

We will take a look at what happens in your body when you stretch over three blogs because with more and more research on stretching, there is so much great information to share.

Lets start by talking about the Lymph System

2202_Lymphatic_Capillaries_big

Lymph is the fluid part of your blood.  The vessels run right alongside your blood vessels. (see image).  Lymph vessels, just like blood vessels are spread out throughout your whole body.   

The lymphatic system’s job is to maintain a healthy immune system by absorbing fluid from the blood so it can be transported to the spleen. The spleen acts as a filter, helping your body fight infection and detecting potentially dangerous bacteria and viruses. Your spleen and your lymph nodes create white blood cells to defend your body against these ‘invaders’.

However, this important system in the body needs you to move for all that to happen. Unlike the circulatory system, your lymph system does not have its own pump. It relies on movement to move the lymph fluid through the body. Stretching can provide that movement instantly, even in the smallest vessels in the body.

The lymph system is one of the big reasons‘sitting disease’is a health concern. But the name is misleading.  The truth is,  sitting is not the problem.  The health strain on the body comes from the combination of  being still and stressed.

Stillness keeps your lymph system from working at its best.  Stress adds to the inflammation in your body as it prepares your body for movement to deal with the stressor.  So the combination of stillness and stressed allows inflammation, the precursor for many lifestyle diseases, to build up.  

For this reason, stretching,  not just taking steps,  is a great way to lower your risks from prolonged sitting.  Unlike ‘getting steps, stretching reaches even the smallest parts of your body where inflammation can build up.  If you just focus on getting steps you might be tempted to multitask them, rather than take a break from stress.   When done mindfully, stretching gives your mind a break 

brooke-cagle-QJ1j4HOdNtI-unsplashfrom the stress, giving your body a chance to clear inflammation. 

Give it a try this week.  When you have a time you are still for a while, take a big morning style stretch and imagine how your muscles are pushing on your lymph vessels giving them help with doing their job!

 

Keep moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | January 15, 2020 · 5:17 pm

How to keep moving and be well, even when life changes

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I am totally dating myself here, but do you remember the song by the Brady Bunch “When its time to change you’ve got to rearrange”?   Remember the episode? They had a big recording session scheduled, but Peter’s voice starts to change.  It was so stressful. 😉 Were they going to be able to perform?  Maybe they should cancel? In the end they decided to embrace change and made it work!  (so inspiring!)   (If you are too young to know what I am talking about or just want to reminisce, here is a clip from the show)

Lifestyle changes are more challenging when we don’t account for the fact that life is always changing.  The weather, your schedule, the needs of loved ones, your body, are all in a constant state of flux.  When we set a resolution to exercise regularly, we don’t always account for this fact.  That new years motivation is so strong, we can forget that it is not just a statement, it is a way of approaching life’s changing nature.  If we don’t, when that dynamic state of life hits, it can seem like that resolution needs to go on the back burner until things return to ‘normal’.

Certainly, there are times we need to prioritize and exercise does need to go on the back burner.  This will happen more often when you think of exercise as a means to an end, rather than something you do to enjoy more of life.   When you think of exercise as a way to feel more like yourself through the challenging times in life, you are more likely to keep it as a tool you can use to stay grounded and reduce stress rather than a task to put off.

The key is knowing how much is enough to maintain your strength, stamina, mobility, and your sanity when life starts to get a bit overwhelming.

For your body, this is enough to maintain:

  • Strength training: one day a week and one set of your usual exercises.
  • Cardio: three days a week for 10 minutes at a moderate intensity.
  • Mobility: Stretching for even just a few minutes once a day.

For your mind, this level is also enough to churn up some great mood boosting, stress reducing chemicals in your brain.

Isn’t that convenient!

Bottom Line:  The way to keep moving and be well is to stay flexible with what you do, so when life changes, you simply rearrange.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | January 8, 2020 · 3:18 pm