Tag Archives: Fitness

Does exercise really need to be painful to see results?

Despite our ingrained belief that exercise needs to be painful, sweaty and uncomfortable to get results, there is no evidence that pain is needed to improve fitness. Yet, the belief lives on through media images and tough exercise programs all based on the four word mantra “no pain no gain”. Interestingly, there is plenty of evidence from neuroscience that pain will most certainly keep you from staying motivated. Do we really need to be in pain, exhausted and sweaty to get results from exercise? Lets take a look.

What results do you want from exercise?

The first question to ask yourself is “what results do I want from exercise?”. If you want to be an athlete and gain a competitive edge, yes, you will need to endure some pain. If you just want “aesthetic fitness”; to look better in a bathing suit or body building stage, ye,s pain and fatigue are likely going to be side effects of your training routine. If you are exercising to feel better mentally and physically, be healthy and well, both now and in the future, pain will actually take you in the opposite direction, leading you away from the results you really want.

“No Pain No Gain” Is Not Meant for You

The saying “No Pain No Gain” was invented for athletes to remind them that if you want to gain a competitive edge, pain is going to be part of the process. It was NOT invented to mean that you have to be in pain to get gain. If you are not exercising to be an athlete, this saying is simply not meant for you.

But What About a Good Sore?

The term a ‘good sore’ was born out of the misuse of the saying “no pain no gain”. It comes from the belief that muscle soreness means you are burning more calories and fat, getting more muscle tone and making progress toward losing weight and getting ‘in shape’. Yet, there is not one published study that shows muscle soreness is necessary for improving strength, burning calories or fat, or improving muscle tone.

Not a single study!

The term ‘good sore’ is really an oxymoron. There is no good reason to be sore.

Isn’t Soreness Part of Getting Back in Shape?

I often hear from patients, “yes it’s painful but its because I am overweight and out of shape”. When we take a step back from that statement, and see that there is no benefit to pain, we realize that it is not your body that is the problem, it is the exercise you are doing to get back into shape. When you adapt exercise for your body, rather than thinking your body just has to get used to an exercise you think you need to do, the pain goes away, enjoyment goes up and so does consistency.

Science Says: No pain, More Gain

So the body scientists agree, there is no gain in pain. The brain scientists also agree that pain is a sure sign motivation will fade. Your brain is hardwired to avoid what makes you feel worse, and repeat what makes you feel better. When exercise is painful, your body is telling your brain this is something to avoid. No matter how much you tell yourself it’s a good sore, your brain is going to believe what your body is feeling and eventually your will make excuses why you cannot exercise.

When you know how to adapt exercise so it does not cause pain, and instead leaves you feeling better, you gain something much more valuable for results – the ease of staying motivated! Consistency is how we get results that last.

Bottom Line About Pain and Exercise

If the ‘No Pain No Gain” mantra rattles around in your head when you are exercising (or thinking of exercising), trade it for a way of thinking about exercise that is meant for you. There is no gain in pain. Pain is simply a sign something needs to change.

  1. Learn how to move the way your body is designed to move so exercises feels good
  2. Notice when your brain is telling your body what it should be able to do and instead let your body tell your brain what it can do now.
  3. Notice when exercise makes you feel better physically (less pain, more energy, less anxious, not sore, etc). That will help your brain want to choose to do it again.
  4. Use a slow gradual progression when increasing exercise. Your body can adapt to only 10% more each week. Slow and steady gets you results.

Whew! Isn’t it great to know you don’t have to endure pain to get results!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | October 6, 2020 · 8:51 pm

Is that fitness expert right for you? Three questions to ask yourself.

Most people struggle with getting enough exercise, but not because there is a lack of information. All you have to do is open a magazine, scroll through social media, look in the self-help section of the bookstore or do a quick internet search and you can get answers to just about any question about exercise. In this sea of information, how do you know who to listen to as a guide? Here are three questions to ask yourself when you get advice about exercise:

What am I looking for from exercise?

Exercise is one word with several purposes. You could exercise to:

  • improve athletic performance
  • achieve a certain ‘ look’ in your body
  • improve your health and function in daily life

Although you could get a bit of all three results from any form of exercise, it is difficult to get what you really want unless you exercise specifically for what you want most. Its just the way our body is designed; you get what you train for. Getting really clear about what you want most will help you narrow down the search for an expert in that type of fitness. Is looking better more important to you than feeling better? Is athletic performance more important than staying healthy as you age? These are essential questions to ask yourself before you even search for information.

Exercising for weight loss is tricky though because weight loss is not a goal, its a method for getting what you want. You might want to lose weight perform better in sports, to look better, or be healthier or function better. I have not met anyone who said they just want the scale to go down but they don’t care about how they feel, or how they function at that goal weight. This is why weight loss is not a goal, its a method for getting what you want. You might want to lose weight for all three reasons but you need to ask yourself which is most important to you about weight loss so you find the right advice to get it.

What is their experience and training?

Exercise is a field of scientific study. Just like any other field, there are specialties and levels of training. Since anyone can call themselves a fitness trainer or expert, you need to do a bit of digging to find out about their experience and training. Look at their bio, do an internet search, and if possible ask them where they went to school, what their degree was in, what types of certifications they hold. If their qualifications are based on their own personal story but no official training, be wary. If their career has been focused on training athletes and your main goal is to be healthy, that is not the expert for you. If you are looking to lose weight to be healthy and function better and you have some medical concerns or pain limitations, you want someone who knows medical as well as exercise science.

Is exercise within their scope of practice?

Scope of practice is a term used to keep professionals from wearing too many hats. For example, as an exercise professional, nutrition is out of my scope of practice. I took a nutrition course and have worked alongside some amazing dietitians, but I am not qualified to give you advice about your diet. Nutrition and exercise are two humongous fields of study with constant research to stay up to date about. This information is larger than one person could realistically master. When someone gives advice about many fields of study, you miss out.

This can seem a bit over the top because we are so used to getting advice about exercise from many sources; from chapters in books about being successful in business to improving mental health. ‘Exercise regularly’ is great advice, but the details are best left to someone who specializes only in exercise. Ask yourself if the person telling you how to exercise is out of their scope of practice. If so, head to a book or a site by someone who focuses only on the type of exercise that is right for you.

There is one last question that is helpful “what is my gut telling me?” You need to trust this person because they are helping you take care of your body. When you heed their advice, listen to your body above all else, because you are the best expert on how it is feeling. Only you know if what you are doing is giving you what you want from your investment in exercise.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | September 15, 2020 · 9:42 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

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 get enough exercise in the busy seasons

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (1)This time of year, getting enough exercise can seem next to impossible.  The solution starts by knowing what it means to ‘get enough exercise’.  Here are some tips on how to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life.

Typical tips would be to multitask like march in place while you are on the phone or do exercises while sitting at your desk or watching TV.  Although they seem logical, this is where we lose motivation and the ability to get enough of what we truly need from exercise when we are busy.

First, lets get clear about what is exercise. Physical activity is any movement.  But the word exercise literally means to practice.  Exercise is when you move specifically for the purpose of taking care of your body, practicing a skill or ability you want more of now and in the future.   Like any quality time spent practicing, movement goes from being just another task to exercise when it has the following qualities:

Consistent:  practicing something for five minutes a day will be more effective than just during the times of year you have time to practice.    Your body is a use it to keep it system, which means the movements you do regularly you get to keep.  It is easier to make it part of your daily life when you see it as a way to feel better.  That brings us to the next two qualities.

Focus:  When practice of any skill is done with full focus, it is more time efficient. If you multi tasked learning a new skill by doing it while watching TV, you just would not get as much out of the time you invest in it.  When you move with full focus on your body for the purpose of taking care of yourself,  you not only improve the quality of your exercise time, but you also ramp up the benefits by practicing mindfulness while you move.  Focusing on the present moment calms the nervous system. So does movement. The two together are just what we need when we are busy and stressed. Since stress deteriorates motivation, exercising to reduce stress is the way to stay motivated.

Just right level:  If you practiced a skill at a level higher than your abilities, you would get frustrated and probably lose interest.  That just right level of challenge is key for exercise too. Your body and brain both benefit from exercising at a level that feels like a comfortable and motivating challenge.  Listening to your body allows you to find the just right level without wasting time doing more than your body needs that day, causing you move less because you are in pain the next day.  More is not always better.  When it comes to exercise, constantly trying to do more usually leads to lower motivation long term.

Those steps you might be racking up at the mall doing holiday shopping or shoveling your driveway ‘count’ for physical activity.  However, shopping or shoveling can be stress producing instead of leaving you feeling or functioning better because they are often missing the three elements that turn physical activity into exercise.  

Exercise for being healthy and well is not about keeping score, its about feeling better and functioning better, now and later.  Think of exercise as a time to practice improving the function of your body and calming your mind.   Instated of putting exercise on hold when you are busy, adapt how much you do so you can stay consistent while using exercise as a ‘time out’ to de-stress.  This way you are more likely to keep moving and stay well through all the seasons of your life, 

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

 

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by | December 18, 2019 · 3:35 pm