Your body is your tool for life. It’s your job to maintain it thanks to physical activity. You have no choice; there’s no way you are going to change it half way or every 10 years like you would for a house or a car. Being fit is the best way to maintain this vehicle of yours. Exercise is the solution! Find out how you can feel good in your body because having a healthy body starts with being fit. No shortcut here.
The difference between fit and thin
Notice that I do not mention the word thin. I know very well that being thin depends on so many criteria, beginning with your genes. Being slender in my opinion is not a healthy goal. Pardon the easy joke!
Being thin, slender and sexy for the beach is something hard, impossible even to achieve for most of us. I blame Photoshop and other photo editing tools here for the misunderstanding. Some have a perfect body and make lots of efforts to maintain it, and it’s great for them. But only because you’ll never be a model, especially at 40+ years old, you are not exempt from working on your fitness state.
What I call being fit is feeling good in my body. I can climb few stories taking the stairs without dying in the middle of it. I’m not in pain when I do the “easy yoga pose” to seat on the ground, and I try to have a light but real physical activity (almost) every day so my body can sweat a little. It’s good for him; it’s good for me.
Reason #1: no more joint pain
I have functional joints. This one doesn’t come easily to me because they often crack when I move, sometimes it’s even painful. I’m used to it because it’s been going on for years. The problem is, recently I had more and more joint pains. For example, have a sore knee. Sometimes walking is a terrible experience. As we don’t have a car, walking is a necessity for me, so you understand my problem. Exercising regularly has soothed all these problems very rapidly.
It took me years of resolution to eventually achieve one of my personal goals: doing yoga regularly. When I say regularly, I mean almost every day. It’s a constant work in progress, but after a few months of practice, I feel relieved from these discomforts.
When I mean yoga practice, I don’t say hot yoga. I mean restoration yoga, relaxing yoga, whatever you name it. It must be a soft exercise that makes you work on your overall flexibility. To recognize the right practice, I give you a hint. You should be seated or lying on the floor during most of the session.
Reason #2: no more back and neck pain
This one is a heavy one too. When I was a student, I used to practice judo. At one point, I had a severe neck injury. It never really healed. From time to time I had my neck entirely frozen by pain when I woke up in the morning. Adding to that the fact that I’m a Mom not having a car, but all the same keeping active with my young children. I carried in my arms my children more than I should have maybe, and regularly I even manage to carry both of them on my back in the Paris subway.
Let me tell you it’s a very, very bad idea! I was 35 the first time I was immobilized by a shooting pain in the back that kept me for hours from moving and even almost breathing. So I’m, or at least I was, quite deep in the painful back and neck process.
I invested thousands of dollars in chiropractor sessions to start feeling better. I felt even great. But I didn’t want the pain to come back, and I didn’t want either to go on spending money regularly to heal my back. I wanted my back to be healthy!
Once again Yoga was my saviour for this one. However, if you enjoy swimming and have easy access to a swimming pool, you can also rely on this exercise. But keep in mind that if your back is painful, breaststroke is not a good idea.
Reason #3: my heart rate has slowed down
I am not talking about what anxiety can cause here, though, physical activity is also proven to be efficient, or at least beneficial for mental health. But doing some regular exercise is also a good thing for your heart rate. If your heart beats are above 100 per minute when you are resting, then you are almost 80% more likely to have a heart condition in the long term.
The most efficient way to slow down permanently your heart rate is to exercise regularly. By exercising, I don’t say that you should run a marathon. But you should sweat, and exercise for at least 30min at a time, even lightly. Bad news: walking your dog around the block is not enough physical activity!
Reason #4: I learned to breath
A few years ago, I broke my wrist on the white slopes of Quebec. The osteopath who was in charge of my re-education after that was an eternal source of advice. One of them was teaching me to breathe. He told me that 80% of the population doesn’t know how to breathe correctly. I realized that day that he was right. Against all my believes, I wasn’t really breathing; I was sabotaging my breathing in and therefore out.
Breathing is so natural and mindless that we believe we are doing it correctly. But lightly breathing is a long-term deficiency for our body. Our memory is less efficient; muscles are more tired; our blood is less clean when we are having shorter inhales. We are also more likely to have infectious diseases; we don’t use all the nutrients in the food we eat. Not to mention my fourth point: our heart beats faster because of that!
Exercising will underline your poor breathing, you will have to improve it, or you won’t keep the pace. It’s almost a natural way to enhance our inhaled air volume.
Reason #5: I sleep better
I love to exercise in the morning. It’s the first thing I do when everyone else has left home for office or school. Once upon a time, I used to wake up earlier to go to the gym, but it was too intense for me. I like to wake up early but mainly to take my time to get ready before my children are awake. I also love to have everything ready for breakfast and do few things on my to-do list.
If I love to get up early, I don’t enjoy rushing to the gym and then rushing back to our apartment to take a far too quick shower before I must hurry because everyone is awake and the breakfast is still sleeping. So, I go to the gym at 8:00 AM (advantage of working from home) before I start working.
What I’m telling here is you must do what works best for you, depending on your schedule and what you enjoy most. But exercising is good for better sleep. However, exercising is exciting the metabolism. You don’t need that before going to bed.
Reason #6: I have energy
When you don’t have enough muscles, every movement is a burden. It’s unnoticeable first, but it goes worse and worse through the years. One day you want to lift your purse, and it feels too heavy. You are not even sick. Your muscles are so weak that they can’t recover from one day to another. That’s how they feel exhausted by something as simple and usual as lifting your purse.
By exercising, even lightly, you strengthen your muscles enough to feel great along the day. In no time you’ll feel energized, you’ll jump on the stairs instead of heavily sighing when you see three steps in front of you.
Reason #7: I feel light
I lost the weight I wasn’t comfortable with in the first place. I’m still not skinny, but I feel good. My clothes fit better. I don’t feel cut in half by my jeans when I’m sitting. Once again, it’s a work in progress for me because I’m not exercising to get thin, but to get fit, so it takes time. I wanted to lose weight because I wasn’t feeling good. It’s not a question of my image in a mirror; it’s more a problem of not being who I feel I should be.
What kind of exercise makes you fit?
It’s time for me to share what I believe is light yet efficient way of exercising. I’m not a coach, so I don’t share my knowledge pretending to be an ultimate guide for anyone. I want you to find what you need to feel good.
I won’t tell more about relaxation yoga. If this particular one is ideal for flexibility and fluids circulation in your body, I don’t consider it as efficient enough for a physical exercise.
Being fit doesn’t mean you are going to be a super athlete! On the contrary, it’s about not hurting your body. Here are some light but effective exercises, with a minimal side effect (injuries) and a maximum of efficiency in a short (but more than 30 min) time.
- elliptical (health practitioners advise elliptical as being the best one regarding its effectiveness and its lack of side effects)
- treadmill for running or fast walking depending on your heart rate
- strength yoga class (YouTube is very useful for that)
- light aerobic exercise
- Pilates for the most motivated ones
- dance (but if you want to be efficient, balancing from one foot to another is not what it takes)
- fast walking
- running (keeping an eye on your heart rate)
- cycling (though this one may take a little longer to be beneficial and depend on the landscape)
During the winter
- ice-skating (not figure skating)
- cross-country skiing
I won’t name more specific sports like the ones involving a racket of any size, for example, they also need more structures and a partner, therefore, are less convenient. But you can practice what you enjoy, whatever it is. Remember that sweating is a good sign of your session efficiency. You also have to keep the good work for more than 30 min because that’s the time your body needs to enjoy the benefits.
Don’t overdo it! However, walking your dog is not enough. Unless you are walking a large dog and run with him for half an hour.
I’m am not a coach or a professional. It’s my own experience talking here. I am sharing what is efficient for me. I’m no marathon runner, I’m not skinny, but I’m not overweighed either. Most importantly, I’m medically in condition to exercise the way I do. I advise you to check with your doctor if you have any doubt about that.
Light exercise means that I don’t increase my heart beat more than I need.
I’m exercising on a treadmill most of the time; it’s great to know how I’m doing. I believe that it’s essential to monitor our heart rate. There are plenty of watches available now for a reasonable price.
Your max heart rate is 220-(your age)
If you are exercising to lose weight, stay below 85% of that number.
If you are 40, you should remain under 153 beats per minute to get fit and healthy. If you want to go above this first limit, you are doing cardio exercise, but that not my point here. However remember that you should never go over that (220-your age) limit, it’s dangerous.
By all means, have fun, or you will never keep at it. Your ultimate goal is not having any finish line. You don’t want to lose 20 pounds and then stop, or run 5k in 25 min and then take a two years break. You want to make it a habit.
To have this mindset shift you need, you must have fun. Practice in a place you like, bring some water to feel better and stronger for longer.
I love to listen to some podcasts when I’m exercising, though I can concentrate on them because I’m safe on a treadmill. If I were to run outdoor, I would go to a park and enjoy the surrounding sounds. What I mean is looking forward listening my podcasts, helps me being motivated when I’m not feeling like exercising.
I also don’t overdo it for the sake of bravery. If I’m drained, I show up whatever, but I do less. I always feel better the day after, and I’m more motivated than ever.
My last advice: stay safe! It means regarding your personal safety, and your environment!
Download here a 5 weeks fitness challenge to help you shift your mindset and keep at it on a daily basis. Click on the image below:
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