for a healthy body, home and planet

Wellness – Exercise

In today’s mostly office-based workplaces, many of us find it difficult to find the time to get enough exercise during the day. For myself, personally I have found the best time to exercise is first thing in the morning, before breakfast.

Some people think half an hour of easy going exercise will help them lose weight. It is doing them lots of good giving them stamina and endurance etc. But often, it actually won’t help them lose weight.

I have found that I need to kick start my metabolism by hard and fast aerobic exercise first thing in the morning. This keeps the body burning fat for the rest of the day, even when we aren’t exercising. And for good bone and muscle health you will also need to tone the muscles a few times during the week as well. So a combination of aerobic exercise with muscle toning is the winning combination for effective weight loss. I lost 5 kgs in around 3 months by doing 10 mins of aerobic exercise most days, first thing in the morning, with longer sessions of weight resistance training or swimming, 1-2 days per week as well.

I have found that hard and fast exercise first thing in the morning before breakfast, works well for me. Or if I can’t do it then, then in the evening is the next best time.

6_Bike1In the morning, before breakfast, I try to do 5 to 20 minutes exercycling intervals, which is a combination of cycling as fast as I can, and then slower cycling, back and forth through fast and slow sequences several times. Then another 5 to 10 minutes upper and lower body workout on my Total Gym or/and free weights. I find it works better that way around as I am warmed up from the cycling and I do not hurt my muscles as much. I can get a decent sweat up on even the coldest winter morning. Remember to stretch those worked muscles out well afterwards.

Then 1 to 2 times a month, I do a longer weight resistance training session. This has really helped me burn more fat and slim down. When I first got back into more intentional exercise, I was lifting weights a lot more often, and I dropped two dress sizes in around 3-6 months. And when I am doing a longer session of a decent workout, I keep up my fluids with an amino boost drink which helps the muscles recover and rebuild with less fatigue and I always finish off with a protein shake, once again this helps rebuild the muscles and I have less sore muscles the next day, so double bonus.

I try to keep things interesting by doing a variety of exercises, I do a couple of other bits and pieces in between like hula hooping.  Yes you read that right, hula hooping. An adult needs to use an adult sized and weighted hula hoop to be effective. The hoop diametre needs to be at least 1 metre across. It works on your core posture muscles of your stomach and back. And while you are laughing about the hula hoop. You only need to do it for 3-5 minutes a day. Any more than that, you will have very sore stomach muscles until your muscles are used to it. I lost 2 cms off my waist and hips in the first two weeks of hula hooping! This was additional to all the other exercise I had being doing as above, but included 30-45 minutes of swimming at least once a week as well.

Overall it doesn’t sound like a lot of exercise, well it’s not, but I am still losing weight. And gaining muscle. I lost 11 kgs in first 12 months of doing this regime. I would probably gain more muscle therefore burn more fat if I did more weight training. Back in 2014 I did weight training 2 times a week with just the same amount of aerobic training as described above. Plus I was sometimes swimming 2 to 3 times a week. And the weight literally poured off me. I am pretty happy with my weight now, so am just in maintenance mode to keep getting fitter and more toned. Muscles actually weigh more than fat, so I should notice a bit of weight gain as I build up more strength.

Additional stuff I do from time to time is tummy crunches and other exercises in a spa pool. Since I have a bad back from time to time, the buoyancy of the water really helps me do these exercises for longer without hurting my back.

how+to+plankPlanking is a really good exercise that works on the core muscles. I could hardly stay in position for 10 seconds when I first tried it a few months ago. Now I can hold position for around one minute. My goal is to get up to two minutes or more. It is a very good daily challenge to set for yourself to see how long you can plank for.

It’s also a good practice to hold your tummy muscles in whenever you think of it. When I first tried this my muscles were so slack and weak, they wouldn’t really move.  I suspect the result of two pregnancies ending with C-sections. That really seemed to have destroyed the strength of my stomach muscles. And lots of years in a industry where you just spend a lot of time sitting at a computer all day. I have found when driving on long car journeys or sitting at a computer for a long time. If I experience any back pain, it is usually because my stomach muscles have started to get lazy and relax, and so my posture has moved to a bad position, so I pull in my tummy, therefore straightening my back, and the pain and fatigue usually goes away. Thankfully my stomach muscles are getting a lot stronger now.

Now we have hit summer again, I am enjoying more swimming, and cycling along with the other stuff listed above.

Your health and wellness journey is probably very different to mine. There is no defined route to take, if it’s daunting, then any start is good.