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As a health coach and personal trainer, I think few things are as confusing for people trying to implement a healthy lifestyle as how to include exercise in order to see results.
Hint – there’s no right way to be active. As long as you are moving your body every day, you’re headed in the right direction. If your goal is to exercise to lose weight, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but working out has very little impact on short term weight loss. If you are trying to lose weight, for whatever reason, what you eat, why you eat, and where you eat are considerations you’ll want to pay close attention to.
But when it comes to maintaining your body’s healthy weight, an exercise habit is a critical factor.
Let’s talk about what you might be doing to negatively impact those long-term results
1. You’re doing too much – These are the people who love working out so much that they just can’t skip a day. Yes, you should have some form of activity on most days but tune in to when your body needs a break. Yes, endorphins make you feel great and that runner’s high IS addictive, but when your excessive exercise starts to cause you pain, wear you down, or stress you out, it’s time to scale back and take it easy. Overtraining can lead to inflammation, elevated cortisol levels, and lowered immunity. Tip: Swap out one of your spin classes for yoga once a week, schedule in some active rest, and give your muscles a chance to recuperate.
2. Not doing enough – Maybe you’re not at the point yet where you love exercise so much that you need to hit the gym every morning before work. Maybe that won’t EVER be you, and that’s ok. You don’t have to love exercising but you do need to find ways to incorporate some activity into your daily routine. Tip: Have a living room dance party every day when you get home from work, walk your dog after dinner, or get a standup desk that makes it easy to move around more during the day.
3. Thinking it has to be all or nothing – Don’t have time for a full workout so you just decide to skip altogether? The effects of exercise are cumulative so every little bit adds up! Tip: 10 minutes before breakfast, 10 minutes of walking after lunch, and a super-fast, do-in-your-pajamas 10 minute full body resistance workout before bed.
BOOM! You met the daily requirement and it didn’t mess with your schedule!
4. Not lifting weights – Maybe you’re the lady who hits the gym daily but beelines straight for the cardio machines, not giving the weight rack a second glance. Because if it isn’t cardio, it doesn’t count. Yes, cardio burns more calories DURING the workout, but weight training burns calories for up to 48 hours AFTER the workout! Thanks to EPOC (or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, the amount of fat and calories burned AFTER a workout). If you aren’t familiar with the EPOC effect, let me explain it briefly: anaerobic exercise (or the exercises that are done in short, powerful bursts) creates an oxygen deficit in your muscles during the workout. Once the workout ends, your body has to work to correct this oxygen deficit and this process of replacing the oxygen burns calories long after you finish the workout. The greater the deficit created, the harder your body works to correct it, thus more calories burned after your workout ends. Lifting weights is so important, especially for women to promote bone density and avoid osteoporosis, so it’s important to incorporate some weight training a few times a week.
Pro tip: Don’t want to invest in a home weight set? Grab this heavy-duty, super portable, and very affordable resistance band set from Amazon!)
5. Not lifting heavy enough weights – Maybe you read that last bullet and thought “Not me, I lift weights!” Ok, but are they the pink ones? Are they the ‘lady’ weights at the gym that aren’t that challenging to lift?
The reason that weight training is important is that it stimulates new muscle growth, and it won’t do that if you’re lifting super light weights. If you can do more that 15 reps with that weight, it’s too light. Increase your weight gradually until you’re no longer able to do more than 12-15 reps per set.
Worried you’re going to bulk up and look too muscular? Don’t worry, women’s bodies are not designed to bulk up and the only way you’re going to start looking like a bodybuilder is if you start lifting extremely heavy weights all the time, and even then, it takes a lot to achieve that look. So if this is your concern, rest assured – it’s not going to happen!
Tip: Make sure to increase weights safely and gradually. If you can’t use proper form while lifting the weight, drop back down to the next highest weight
6. Not stretching or doing flexibility work – Maybe you’ve read this and you’re the one that’s doing regular cardio AND lifting weights a few times a week, but are you working on building your flexibility and mobility?
These are extremely important as we age for retaining your joints’ range of motion and avoiding injury. Add a yoga class to your weekly fitness routine and a stretch sesh after each workout! With building flexibility, consistency is key!
Pro tip: Leave a workout mat next to your bed and do a quick stretch each night before bed! This one from Amazon rolls up and out of sight when you’re not using it!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or Registered Dietitian. The information presented is purely to share my experience and for entertainment purposes. As always, check with a doctor before making any fitness or nutrition changes. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.