Among certain circles, the amount of exercise you do can be worn as a badge of honor, whether that’s by having a low resting heart rate, going through a new pair of running shoes each week, or not being able to stand up after a workout. If fitness is your goal, that’s all well and good, but for overall health, it’s important to keep a balance between your workout routine and other ways to improve your well-being. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Decide on Your Goals
What is your reason for exercising? If you’re only interested in general health and fitness, you might need to do less than you think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you do strength training twice a week, plus 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week, including brisk walking. Time spent doing vigorous exercise counts double, so 75 minutes of intense exercise a week is also OK. However, you need to do at least 10 minutes in one session for it to count.
So if you spend 20 minutes walking to work Monday to Friday, that’s 100 minutes in the bag already. Another 25 minutes of vigorous exercise, and you’re there. Doing more exercise is OK, but if you hit this minimum, you have the choice to save some time in the gym and work on other areas of your life.
Listen to Your Body
Maybe you have exercise goals beyond general health, for example, building muscle with weight lifting or competing in a 10k. In this case, you’ll likely be exercising for more than the recommended levels. That’s fine—these recommendations are minimums. However, doing too much can be as bad as doing too little. If you are very sore after a session, your muscles will be weaker and less able to absorb shocks. This puts more stress on your ligaments and tendons, potentially leading to injuries. Overtraining can also impair your overall health. If you notice any symptoms of overtraining such as irritability, frequent infections, depression, insomnia, or a lack of progress in your training, take a week or two off.
Improve Your Sleep Habits
It might sound counterintuitive, but those eight hours you spend unconscious and not moving each night are crucial to your fitness level. As Amerisleep points out, quality sleep, in conjunction with an exercise program, leads to better athletic performance and better hormonal balance and helps you lose weight. So how do you improve sleep? For starters, use white noise to dampen out sound, block light with heavy curtains, and limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. Around 45 minutes before bedtime, switch off all screens and dim the lights. Artificial light from TVs and phones can trick the brain into thinking it’s still daytime, and a darker environment triggers the release of hormones that initiate sleep.
Create a Relaxation Regimen
The benefits of exercise largely come during the time periods between workouts, when the body is resting, recuperating, and repairing the damage done by the training. That’s why it’s important to create a relaxation regimen, which gives the body a chance to work its magic. Try getting into a calming hobby such as knitting, coloring books, or yoga. You could also set aside an area of your home to use as a meditation space. Even 10 minutes of meditation each day can significantly increase relaxation and reduce stress levels. You should also take steps to ensure you’re getting plenty of quality sleep; if you’re having trouble drifting off at night, consider using a white noise machine and high-quality pillows to maximize comfort.
Ultimately, the amount of exercise you do depends on your goals and what your body is able to handle. But whatever you’re aiming for, make sure you take a balanced approach by listening to your body and taking regular downtime. If you do this, you’ll see big improvements in your health and fitness while minimizing the risks posed by overtraining.
Article Provided By Susan Treadway