Moderation comes up frequently in discussion over food and nutritional intake … but guess what? Moderation ALSO applies to exercise and your workouts.
The old days of “no pain, no gain” are definitely in our rear-view mirror. Instead, it’s about the “minimum effective dose” for results. That means getting just enough exercise to maintain or improve your fitness, without overdoing it (especially when it comes to long or super-intense workouts).
More is definitely NOT better, for so many reasons. Some of those reasons might surprise you.
- Set you up for injury
- Lead to burnout
- Make you feel hungry
- Make you tired, which means you’re less active the rest of the day, burning fewer calories than you would have without exercising
- Place excess strain on your cardiovascular system
- Hinder performance, as your body needs time to recover between workouts
The AHA recommends
to “Think of exercise as medicine – you need to follow the prescription to reap the benefits. Don't neglect exercise, but don't go overboard either.” They add further guidance from researcher Dr. Barry A. Franklin, director of preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at Beaumont Health in Royal Oak, Michigan: “Exercise is medicine, and like medicine, it is possible to underdose and overdose on exercise – more is not always better and can lead to cardiac events."
SO what does the “right” amount look like for the average adult? Wondering if you are moving enough? How much is too much? Fortunately, there is a high degree of consensus among researchers and medical organizations on the recommended fitness guidelines.
Here’s your fitness “prescription”, as recommended by ACSM, AHA and other experts:
- Strength training that hits all your major muscle groups at least twice a week. Rest days recommended between sessions.
- For cardiovascular activity, 150 minutes of moderate activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week, or a blend of both - spread out over the course of the week.
- PLUS … health experts now explicitly recommend cutting back on sedentary behavior – e.g. how much time we spend sitting at our desks or couch bound watching TV
And please remember to always obtain medical clearance from your physician PRIOR to starting a new exercise regimen or significantly increasing exercise intensity / frequency.
So, what might this look like in your day-to-day life? Depends on what you like! The key is to find the right frequency and intensity for your fitness level, goals and preferences. Enjoy the outdoors and working out with others? Applying the 1,2,3 fitness prescription above could mean 30 min walks outside each weekday during your work lunch break, 2 outdoor sculpt classes with friends, and frequent movement breaks.
This last part – movement breaks - is important! My clients come up with all kinds of creative ways to reduce their sedentary behavior, including recurring phone alarms at 5min to the hour to do a stretch break, standing up and walking to the sink for a glass of water between meetings, and adding several 5-10 min “movement” breaks each day on their calendar. Not only do these strategies reduce sedentary behavior, they provide easy ways to sneak in more movement minutes to your week and more easily achieve recommended activity volumes in an enjoyable manner.
There are countless other ways to get moving without overdoing it. I’d love to hear - what do YOU do to achieve moderation with exercise? And if you’d like coaching on identifying and working towards your fitness goals, please reach out anytime.
In the meantime – good luck training – and not overtraining :)
Your partner in health,