Exercise: Knowing your body, part 3

Now that we’ve covered figuring out how much sleep and rest our bodies need, let’s start moving!  Whether you’ve been exercising regularly for years, you’re just getting started, or the thought of exercising horrifies you, there is no shortage of advice on the subject.  A quick Google search for the best type of exercise turns up everything from swimming to weight training, and focuses on everything from weight loss to aging.  Finding the “right” kind of exercise can be a daunting task, and it can be easy to become so overwhelmed by the wide variety of information that you end up not doing anything.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, people should get 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular activity per week, and should train all major muscle groups with weights heavy enough to tire after 12 – 15 repetitions per exercise twice per week.  They also recommend spreading out this time throughout the week, rather than getting it done all at once.

That’s all well and good, but what kind of exercise should you do?  The answer is simple: whatever gets you moving!  Find something that makes you want to move, whether that’s dance, yoga, martial arts, weight lifting, running, or simply taking a walk around the neighborhood.  You can go to a gym, or you can create your own gym at home (lifehacker.com has a great article on how to create a great home gym without spending a fortune).  Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you enjoy, otherwise, you’ll never actually do it.

For me, exercise is best when I don’t consider it exercise.  I love martial arts, so that’s my primary form of exercise and everything else I do is meant to support that activity.  I attend a two-hour Capoeira class two to three times per week, and occasionally attend a Kali class once per week.  I stretch and move my joints through their entire range of motion most every day, sometimes all at once, and other times, breaking up these movements and scattering them throughout the day.  I walk approximately two to two-and-a-half miles two or three times per week, weather permitting.  None of these activities feels like exercise to me, so it’s not difficult to do them.  For more formal workouts, I alternate between yoga and short, but intense metabolic conditioning workouts, which combine intense cardio with strength training.  Over the course of the year, I find that I alternately need the relaxation yoga provides and the intensity provided by the metabolic conditioning workouts.  Sometimes, I need a break from everything except the martial arts classes, walks, and daily movements, and so, allow myself to leave my movement routine at that.

Personally, I try to respect the season my body is in and what I feel it needs.  Sometimes, that means adding in more intensity, and other times, it means adding in more calming routines.

What works best for you?  Tell me about your exercise routines in the comments below!

Catherine Hall

About Catherine Hall

Catherine lives in Bangor, Maine with her family. She gained her appreciation for food and cooking from her grandmother and learned most of her technical knowledge from watching the Food Network. When not in the kitchen, Catherine can be found outdoors attempting to grow vegetables (not always successfully), practicing yoga, and taking Capoeira classes in downtown Bangor. Catherine can also be found walking around town with her Guiding Eyes guide dog, Caleb.