The Words of the Manning Family
"E" for Exercise, Part I
It is no secret that exercise is good for you. But inappropriate exercise can do more harm than good. In part one of "E" for Exercise, we will look at the benefits of, and the appropriate principles to apply, to an effective, healthy exercise program.
Some of the proven benefits of a regular, balanced exercise routine, versus a sedentary lifestyle, are:
Regular, appropriate exercise lengthens and improves the quality of our lives. We deal better with physical, emotional and intellectual stress, and generally are better able to function effectively in this demanding world. By ignoring these principles, we place ourselves at a disadvantage, or even at risk, of a lifetime of unnecessary struggle and sickness. Instead of being able to show good example to others, we are probably becoming part of the problem, draining society of its resources due to unprincipled lifestyles. There is increasingly more evidence of the connection between the physical, emotional, intellectual, AND the spiritual! Now, we have the knowledge to change ourselves, and through association, change the world.
Here are three principles to guide you as you plan your exercise program:
For too long, people have believed that something has to be ‘painful’ in order to be beneficial. Remember "No Pain – No Gain"? This is simply not true. In a regular fitness program, the opposite is actually the case. If it hurts—stop!! Pain is the body’s signal that damage is occurring. Please don’t confuse effort and discomfort, with pain. It is absolutely appropriate to invest sincere effort, and experience some discomfort as you challenge yourself to improve (this is also the case in other disciplines: study, work, family life, spiritual growth etc.).
2. Exercise At Your Own Pace
This is connected to the first principle above. Don’t feel pressured to meet someone else’s standard if it causes pain or distress. This is one of the major failings with fitness classes such as dance aerobics. Often, individuals are not fully assessed or advised about their specific appropriate pace for the class. There is pressure to ‘keep up’ with the music and the instructor, - often resulting in the session being detrimental, rather than beneficial for the participant. It is important to decide what you expect from an exercise program, and then, choose the appropriate type of exercise to achieve those goals. Many people involved in regular exercise programs are actually working against their stated goals, due to lack of understanding of the basic principles governing human physiology.
3. The F.I.T. Concept (Frequency, Intensity, Time)
The general rule for the frequency of exercise is determined by your body’s ability to respond to exercise, it’s requirement for rest between sessions, and the negative effects of either too much or too little of either. Therefore, it is generally recommended that one exercise at least 3 times weekly for the appropriate amount of time, and at the right intensity.
You determine intensity! Do you want to be ‘fit’ like a marathon runner— or a sumo wrestler? Silly though it may sound, this is a very good way to illustrate the two different methods of exercising. The marathon runner trains for endurance and stamina, and in the process develops his cardio-pulmonary-respiratory functions, and burns body fat. This type of training is called AEROBIC (with oxygen). The sumo wrestler trains for explosive power and strength, builds large bulky muscles, and burns zero body fat. This is called ANAEROBIC training (without oxygen). A simple way to determine which type of exercise you are doing at any given moment is to ask yourself "am I out of oxygen?" – if you are literally gasping for breath (like after a sprint up stairs), or your muscles are totally fatigued, and you just have to stop, - then you have been doing ANAEROBIC exercise. This is the way to build the physique of a bull. On the other hand, continuous, moderate exercise which challenges you without exhaustion (at least for 20 minutes) and using large muscles, we call AEROBIC. In my opinion, a subtle mixture of both types of exercise is most beneficial. Athletes such as boxers, decathletes and ballet dancers are prime examples of a mixed aerobic and aerobic training regimen.
Time, once again, depends on you. Remember, if you want your session to reap aerobic benefits, then it must last at least 20 minutes, any less, and the body will not respond accordingly. Also, remember that exercise consumes energy. If you continue exercising longer than necessary to achieve your goals, your body will find the energy from somewhere, - even if it means breaking down muscle fibers for food! Think about this during your anaerobic workout.
Question of the month:
Do older people benefit as much as younger people from exercise?
Yes, and in most cases older people reap relatively greater benefits at first, because of their less active lifestyles.
Next month, in "E" for Exercise, part two, there will be more specifics on developing your very own, effective and enjoyable, principled exercise program.
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