Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

How I manage my stress with a 5:00am workout

NIFS | Managing Stress | Early WorkoutI know I'm not the ONLY one who exercises early in the morning.  While I don't have stats on the percent of exercising adults who workout before 7:00am, I know there are quite a lot of us; I see my tribe at the gym when I'm there at o'dark thirty.  (Seriously, why would commercial gyms open at 5:00am if there wasn't a demand for it?)  Still, whenever I get into a conversation with a friend about exercise and it comes out that I'm on the treadmill at 5:00am, I get the "are you out of your bleeping mind" look. 

The thing is, adulting is hard. There are a lot of pressures flying in (and sometimes sticking around) from different directions. We're wearing so many hats - wife, mom, friend, volunteer, employee - that without fail, when one of those important elements in life is out of whack with high stress, the other areas suffer too. 

I know it sounds cliche, but exercise is my fix.  When I'm not moving my body regularly, the carefully-laid house of cards I've built that has the appearance of everything going smoothly in my life is going to get blown over by the slightest of stressors.  Enter the 5AM workout.  I don't mean to sound dramatic, but I've tried other times of the day and it just doesn't fit for my life.  I have to be at work by 7:30am so I can leave by 4:30pm for kid pick up and once I'm in mom-mode, forget the afternoon/evening for "me" time. I suppose I could try the lunch-time thing if I thought my coworkers would be okay with me sweating in the office (even after a shower...yes, I'm one of THOSE people).

To be clear, when my alarm goes off at 4:30am it's not like I'm all bright eyed and perky.  I stumble to the kitchen, turn on the coffee pot and then sit on the couch to go through some basic seated stretches while I wipe the sleep from my eyes. I am never happy about the 5:00am workout, and I don't hit it every day, but I'm always glad when it's done and my whole day is better for it.  

I've done the early morning workout since I started adulting after college, and I've learned over the years to listen to my body so each early meet up with the treadmill, the weights, or the pool isn't always a time trial to beat yesterdays effort. I'm more forgiving for a light day and for skipping a day which has its own benefits for my psyche. 

When I managed corporate fitness centers for NIFS years ago, I used to get asked what was the best time of day to workout, and my answer was always the same: it's whatever time you actually will workout.  That's still my answer; 5:00am isn't for everyone. But there are a lot of hours in the day to choose to move your body.  Even a short 10 minute stint can be powerful for your health.  Carve out the time, no matter the hour and no matter how brief. Your body, your family, and your friends will be glad you did. 

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Topics: stress workouts morning workout making time to exercise exercise habit

Making Time to Exercise

Since I was a young child, I have continuously heard in school how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious meals and exercising regularly. Starting at a young age is important too because it will create good habits that will carry on throughout life. I remember in my classes we would talk about adults having difficulties making time to exercise. One of the reasons that stuck out the most to me was not having any time. I had a hard time understanding this reason but now that I have entered the work force, I definitely understand how some may believe that there is not ANY time to exercise.  I can only imagine other factors such as kids, workload, second jobs, errands, etc.  That is okay, because today we are going to look at the top reasons for not exercising and finding solutions so that everyone can find a way to exercise even on your busiest day.

Studies show these are the top reasons why some do not exercise:

Not Enough Time 

When you have work, kids, cleaning and other errands to run, it may seem impossible to take time to workout because other things are more of a priority or more necessary. I think that is the key to making time to exercise, it has to be a necessity. When we believe things are important, we make time for them and should do the same for exercising. It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. That is just 30 minutes a day, for 5 days a week! It can be broken up any way you want, whether it is 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening, doing it all at once or even breaking it down in to 10 minute sessions.  It does not matter as long as you hit the recommendation.

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Exercising Hurts 

Never push yourself to where you feel pain. If you are feeling pain, it is time to decrease the intensity and slow down. It is okay to ease into a basic workout routine. Light cardio and light weightlifting is acceptable to start until you feel comfortable increasing the intensity. Sometimes, you experience soreness from a previous workout and if that is the case, take extra rest days to let your body recover. 

Lack of Motivation 

It is so easy to stay home relaxing and not make an extra trip to the gym, but what is going to get you motivated to exercise? Sometimes writing goals down can help.  Also, rewarding yourself each week or once a month is great motivational tactic. Rewards should be fun and exciting and you could bring a friend on board for an extra boost and a dose of commitment.  You can also benefit from the behavioral science of loss aversion to keep you moving.  Find out more about charity fitness apps as a tool to keep you motivated.

It’s Boring 

There are so many ways to enjoy exercise. It is about finding which form of exercise  or activity you like best to continue moving forward. Yes, you have your traditional way of exercising by hopping on a cardio machine or lifting weights, but there are many other options. You can try a group fitness class at a local or private gym and see what styles you enjoy.

[Read More: Check out the NIFS Group Fitness Schedule!]

If you are not a fan of group fitness, consider joining an adult sports league or try outdoor activities such as running and hiking. You can also buy exercise DVDs or subscribe to a fitness streaming services to use at home.  There's a good chance your kids’ game system has workout “games”  the whole family can use. It is a great way to get the kids involved as well!

Making exercise a habit is going to make it more possible to stick with your fitness goals. There are many ways to make extra time for a workout, you just have to find what works for you and make sure you are choosing enjoyable activities. That’s a recipe for success!

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Topics: exercise and health exercise habit making time to exercise

Three Important Facts to Help You Start a New Exercise Habit

ThinkstockPhotos-186871442-1.jpgIndividuals who are new to regular exercise, or those who are considering recommitting after a long hiatus, may have preconceived notions about what it takes to effectively reap the benefits of a new routine. For this reason, I want to establish a number of foundational principles and debunk some common myths surrounding fitness. Reworking your current schedule to include exercise can seem like a daunting task, but starting with a foundation of knowledge may help to quell the discouraging thoughts that make starting a new exercise habit so difficult.

Following are three important evidence-based facts about exercise and fitness.

1. Reaping the benefits of exercise does not require a large time commitment.

If your idea of exercise is a monotonous jog around the block or on the treadmill, you need to start defining exercise in broader terms. Long walks or runs are great if you enjoy them enough to complete them on a regular basis, but there are endless activities that can lead to similar benefits while requiring less exercise time. Vigorous-intensity exercise (exercising at 77 to 94% of maximum heart rate*) has been shown to have positive effects on cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness in bouts as short as 10 minutes. (*The Gelish equation to estimate maximum heart rate is HRmax = 207 – [0.7 x age].)

Examples of vigorous-intensity exercise include sprinting, swimming, boxing, jumping rope, dancing, bicycle sprinting, and a number of other exercises that can be performed at a gym or fitness center.

2. Working out at a gym does not require any more than basic knowledge and can lead to drastic results within weeks.

The benefits of consistent workouts are created by bodily adaptations triggered by a stimulus—the activity that you performed. While experienced weightlifters and endurance athletes require more advanced and intricate stimuli to produce more adaptations, those who are sedentary can expect to see significant gains in strength or aerobic capacity in a short amount of time when they start exercising regularly. This can make for an excellent motivating factor when starting an exercise habit.

3. There isn’t one type of exercise that’s mandatory in order to achieve positive results.

Purposeful exercise generally falls into one of two categories: resistance or endurance. However, many different activities straddle the lines between these two forms (such as CrossFit, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT), boxing, gymnastics, and various other sports). All types of exercise have the potential to improve overall health.

Benefits of resistance training include increased resting metabolic rate (faster metabolism), improved insulin sensitivity, lower body-fat percentage, increased bone density, potential for slower cognitive decline, improved balance, and improved strength, mobility, and self-esteem. Endurance exercise has the potential to produce many of the same benefits while having a slightly more robust effect on cardiovascular health. This shows that even without choosing a specific activity, you can realize the rewards of exercise.

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Careful planning can be important for effective habit change, but sometimes too much thought can hinder your ability to implement change. The mind always seems to have a way of creating obstacles. Remember that physical activities can produce benefits in just a few short sessions per week, even when performed with just basic knowledge and in an unorganized way.

Hopefully this new knowledge will help you smash through your barriers and get moving!  Looking to add exercise to your workplace, click below for how to get started.  

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Topics: exercise habit high-intensity workouts resistance strength workouts