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:


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.


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,