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Wellness

Why There’s More To Being Healthy Than Just Being Vigorous

As a physical activity researcher, what amazes me, and what I try to illustrate for people, is that even someone as active and lean as a triathlete can get “hit-or-miss” when it comes to whether their exercise routine is helping their body get stronger. But, by making an effort to maintain this level of intensity, we reduce the amount of “miss-stress” we feel and the amount of “miss-exercise.”

Like most scientists and physicians, I tend to view aerobic exercise as an integral part of healthy living. As someone who has run long distances several times a week, I find that this type of exercise is the most effective at activating the body’s immune system, helping it ward-off chronic diseases. So what happens when we start to try to do too much: Too many sprint workouts can make those things worse and can actually make our bodies lose key benefits, such as endurance. To the contrary, too little aerobic activity can make it more difficult for us to manage the stress of everyday living.

To better understand how one gets so far in getting the amount and variety of physical activity they desire, I’m going to present an example of how I set aside some time for aerobic exercise while my husband and I were living alone in southern Ohio, an area with harsh winters and the occasional snowstorm. In this article I’d like to illustrate how much we can get done when we commit to making the right choices for ourselves and for our relationship.

The Science Behind Exercising:

One way we can increase the number of things we are able to do without running out of time is to make adjustments to our workout plans. For example, if an athlete is working out three times as many days per week as the average person in the U.S., her daily exercise sessions will be relatively longer and will have a higher intensity. By increasing her exercise volume and frequency in addition to her frequency of exercise, she can keep her strength and performance up. By doing this, she will not only feel more energized and ready to move throughout the day, she will also decrease the amount of rest and recovery she needs during those times when she is not moving.

In addition to the daily increase in intensity and volume, exercise intensity can also be adjusted. For example, if you are currently working out a couple of times a week with a variety of levels of intensity and volume, there are many ways to make that a little bit easier. For example, if you could run on a treadmill only five minutes at a level where you feel fairly strong but not extremely so (70%-80% of your max heart rate, for example), that would be a great adjustment. You could then reduce the intensity of the treadmill training every week to a level where you are still feeling strong but have reached your potential but not yet achieved it. By doing so, you are not only keeping the same intensity and volume, but you are also making it easier to stay in a groove. And by being able to achieve a high intensity without going over your heart rate zone, your endurance will not be impacted.

Another way to make the volume and intensity of your workouts easier is to make the intensity of your sets and repetitions a little bit higher. When you can make your sets and repetitions a little bit harder, they become more effective. To do this, the first time you perform a set during an exercise session, make sure that you only do the minimum number of reps to achieve the highest intensity you can get. The most effective exercise intensity is achieved when everyone in the room is still capable of doing at least one rep. If not, there is a risk that you will not feel the full effects of the exercise.

Another way to make your sets and repetitions a little bit harder is to make sure that you stay at that intensity for a longer amount of time. For example, when doing a muscle-building exercise such as leg extensions, use two sets of 10 reps, no more than 10 to 30 seconds each. And for other exercises, do 15-second repetitions, no more than 15 seconds each.