Thursday, January 23, 2014

Finding the Right Exercise Program for You

For me, the most important aspect of exercise programs is finding forms of physical activity that you truly enjoy. Years ago I wrote a post on the same topic, stressing the fact that you’ll only stick with a program if you like it. I got a comment from a very fit and influential blogger, who basically said that you don’t have to like the exercise you do, all that matters is that you do it.


While I respect the blogger, I disagree. I’ve been physically active my whole life, and I know I wouldn’t work out consistently if I didn’t like what I was doing. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have to sometimes push myself to work out, but I can genuinely say that I like all of my workouts and activities. Also, over the years, I had to often push myself outside of my comfort zone, especially when I tried out new workouts and classes in order to advance to the next level. But the bottom line is that there are so many options that everyone can find what works for them.

Here are my forms of exercise throughout the week:

Walking/Hiking

I’ve been walking and hiking since my early 20s. In my 20s, I lived on the top of a big, very steep hill. When I stepped out the front door, the only way to go was down, and then I had to walk up again, which was a fantastic workout. Plus, I got to enjoy beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay. I have been enjoying my walks and hikes for over 20 years. Not only are they a great form of exercise for my body, but they are also so beneficial for my mental health. Since I got my Fitbit a year ago, I have been striving to walk at least 10,000 steps (about 5 miles) a day. My Fitbit has definitely made me walk at least a mile or two more per day, which adds up to a lot of miles in a year. If you need some reasons for walking more, Mark Sisson wrote an article with 17 reasons why you should walk more.

As I’m aging, I’m finding more and more that I have to exercise to maintain my body and what it can do.

Barre Classes
 
Several years ago, I developed severe low back pain. I couldn’t turn over in bed. I couldn’t get up when I was sitting down. I was miserable and felt a lot older than I was. I did some research online and found some exercises that relieved the pain somewhat but not completely. Luckily, soon thereafter I discovered barre classes – a  mixture of ballet, Pilates, and orthopedic exercises – and doing the barre workouts regularly has completely taken care of my lower back issues, and I haven’t had any lower back pain in about three years. Plus, barre classes are a great workout for your core, thighs, and glutes.

Yoga

Over the past year, I have become much more serious about yoga. Besides taking one or two classes at a studio per week, I am also practicing almost daily at home. It’s a great way to start the day.

Strength Workouts
 
I don’t have a gym membership anymore, and I have been struggling a bit with my strength workouts. But I have been putting together different routines with free weights, and I’m excited again about being strong.

Here is what a “typical week” looks like (often the workouts happen on different days, but I always do the different workouts; there is no room for excuses):

Monday: morning yoga, 10,000 steps +
Tuesday: morning yoga, 10,000 steps +, strength workout
Wednesday: morning yoga, 10,000 steps +
Thursday: 10,000 steps +, yoga class
Friday: 10,000 steps +, yoga class (I usually wouldn’t take yoga classes two days in a row, but the classes fit into my schedule, and I love them; they are very different classes, and I love that)
Saturday: morning yoga, 10,000 steps + (my goal is close to 20,000 steps on Saturdays; I usually walk in the mornings with Andy, and then we go hiking with the kid in the afternoon); strength workout
Sunday: barre class, 10,000 steps +

Adjustments to my Workout Schedule

I think it’s important to evaluate your workout program once in a while and adjust it if necessary. Andy and I started sprinting late last year. To be honest, I haven’t been very consistent with the sprints, sometimes they happen, sometimes they don’t. One of my goals for this year is to sprint more consistently. In case you are interested in the benefits of sprints, Mark Sisson wrote an article on the 15 reasons to sprint.

Questions: What’s your favorite form of exercise? What new forms of exercise do you want to explore? What keeps you from exploring them?
 
Be well,
Andrea

28 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you, exercise should be somethng you enjoy and like doing everyday, not a sacrifice.
    I love walking and jogging around and I like not conventional strength workout like yoga, pilates, have to yet to try barre.

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    1. I think you'd like barre workouts, Coco!

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  2. I WANT WANT WANT WANT MORE TIME IN THE DAY :) to make yoga CLASSES.
    till then? Im:

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    1. Yes, my ideal workout schedule would consist of a couple more yoga and barre classes.... Love your new name, Carla! ;)

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  3. Hi Andrea, I stopped by after reading your comment on Jodi's post. I couldn't agree more with what you've said here. I can only speak for myself but as I age (I will be 49 I March) I find that it's an ongoing struggle to maintain/lose weight. I tend to get bored easily so the right exercise program means never doing the exact workout twice. I find going on Pinterest to find new routines and free online videos plus motivational images and quotes is very helpful. Also, there is a lot to be said about the power of good music. I treat myself after a good workout by downloading a couple new, upbeat songs so I have something to look forward to when I workout the next time.

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    1. Hi Karen, thanks for stopping by! Using Pinterest to find new routines and for motivation is a great idea! Also, I'm not using music enough! Great reminder for me!

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  4. Great post, Andrea! It's so important to find a way to move your body consistently, no matter how you do it or what activities you like. For me, I need a good book or an awesome podcast/book on tape to help me keep to an exercise schedule - there's nothing like being so excited to hear the next chapter of a good book that you lace up your running shoes ASAP! ;)

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    1. I clearly am not using music and podcasts/books to my advantage when I work out! I'll have to change that!

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  5. Very impressive! Working out has always been the easiest thing to give up for me, so I totally agree that you gotta enjoy doing it, or at least not shirk away from it. LOL For me, that's dancing. And walking on weekends when the weather is lovely. I'm still struggling to get the mojo together to start the strength training and sprints, but that is definitely part of what I intend to improve upon for 2014! :)

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    1. Let's check in with each other regarding the strength training and sprints, Gwen!

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  6. Walking in nature is my favorite form of exercise. I am always more willing to exercise if I am doing something I love.

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    1. Walking/hiking is definitely my favorite activity, too.

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  7. I totally agree with you, and would even go so far as saying you need to like not just the activity but the setting, facility, instructor, etc...whatever is applicable. I like yoga in some studios but definitely not all of them ;)
    Thanks for the link to the walking motivation!

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    1. Yes, instructors, facilities, etc. are very important, too! Finding the right yoga studio for you can be difficult. I always tell people who are new to yoga to try out a studio/instructor and if they don't like it or it doesn't feel right to make sure to try out a different studio/instructor.

      I think you are doing great with your steps! It's all about doing a bit more than a few weeks ago... :)

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  8. Hi Andrea, I've been thinking about you today. I would have commented earlier had I not been making my first spaghetti squash ever! Per your ideas. I put some a bit of leftover taco meat and cheddar cheese over it, melted it, and stirred it together! Excellent! It was a super great first try. For the other half, I just melted cheese on it and stirred. It really was quite a bit like mac'n'cheese. So that was fun!!! It was fun getting the squash guts off the seeds before roasting them. It was fun to see how the spaghetti squash just shreds like that (I had previously wondered if I could do that wrong. Lol.) And I tried to just put food together like you do. Honestly, some of the ideas I've read off your blog are coming together in my mind.

    Regarding exercise--Yes!!!!! Have fun with fitness if you do nothing else. I like how you explain that you still challenge yourself and try hard, but those kinds of things really are fun if it is the appropriate amount and type of challenge. It's very kid-like and free. The only reason why I've been able to go to the gym for 7 straight years now is because I love it. I'm always finding new exercises to do and new fitness friends. Hence, my blog's name: Affection for Fitness. :D

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  9. I'm glad you tried spaghetti squash - it's such a fun food! :) I often use it as a base for my "bowls." Recently, it's often spaghetti squash, sauteed onions & mushrooms, asparagus, and "spiced ground turkey/beef." It's so easy but so flavorful. Have fun with it! :)

    I love that you show in your "Days at the Gym" posts how much fun you are having with your workouts. And, yes, your blog name is perfect! :)

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  10. What a nice post. I agree that you have to like your form of exercise so you will continue to do it. I love to walk, hike and bike ride!

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  11. I totally agree. Although I would try to encourage someone to find some form of strength training that they enjoyed simply because it's the benefits of strength training are so numerous! I love hiking, walking, yoga, and kettlebells.

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    1. Yes, strength training is important, and everyone should find a form they enjoy. I agree.

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  12. I agree that you have to like what you do, otherwise you won't stick to it unless you have amazing willpower to do something you don't like.

    Maybe someday I would like to follow a bootcamp class but that's not something I want to do at this moment.

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    1. I took boot camp classes in the past, and it was lots of fun (and tough). For sure a great workout!

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  13. I could not agree more - if you don't love it, you obviously won't do it, and that's just not an option when it comes to being active, I am sorry to say! Oddly enough, I actually really love my LONG LONG LONG elliptical jaunts every morning, probably because I know how amazing I will feel when it's OVER :)

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    1. Yes, the way you feel after a good workout is a great motivator! :)

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  14. I wish I live on a hill or by the mountains where I can hike easily every morning…but where I live in is in the middle of nowhere, flat, and requires a car. I’m happy to know that you’re finding your ways of exercise throughout the week… there are so many forms of workouts to try and maintain…and yoga is definitely the best part. I travel every other month, and walk few hours a day for miles, but during my non-travel days, I try to do some boxing and steps.

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    1. Yes, I loved living on the top of a very long and steep hill. It was so "easy" to get a great workout!

      Exploring and walking for hours is the best part of traveling!

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  15. SO funny that I read this now cause my post is about this Wednesday! :) I do think people can start out doing something they do not like BUT long term, they will not stick with it cause it will be a drain on them mentally - & as you wrote & in my post for Wednesday - so many ways to move & work out. :)

    Now saying all that, I have started stuff I disliked & ended up liking it after a while.. :)

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    1. You know, it's a fine line between making yourself try new things and really giving it a chance to see if you'll end up liking it and sticking with something that just won't work for you.

      While I think we all have to get out of our comfort zone and may in the process discover things we didn't think we'd like, I think it's important to remember that there are soooo many possibilities when it comes to workouts. The biggest problem I think is when people try to do exactly what someone else is doing without necessary adjustments, etc. Looking forward to Wednesday's post!

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