What do running, jogging, walking, biking, swimming, Stairmaster and rowing have in common? All of these are examples of cardiovascular exercise – a chief component of any fitness program. Any exercise that increases the work of the heart and lungs is cardiovascular exercise. And, you don’t have to qualify to run a marathon in order to reap its benefits.
In order to reap the benefits of cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the CDC, recommend s the following:
2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week;
OR 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week
OR An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
If this sounds like a lot of time to you, remember that you don’t have to do it all in one day. It’s best to spread your exercise out during the week, into smaller chunks of time. If you take a brisk walk 5 times a week for 30 minutes, you have your 150 minutes. You can break it up even more, but it’s important to continue your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time, in order to reap the benefits of this type of exercise.
And what are the benefits? They include:
- Improved body image, and self-esteem;
- Increased energy and metabolism;
- Improved heart function and reduced risk of heart disease;
- Decreased body fat and cholesterol;
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis;
- Improved muscle mass;
- Decreased anxiety and depression, and an increase in endorphin production, generating a feeling of well-being;
- Improved sleep; and
- A decrease in physical and emotional pain.
In order to get the maximum return on your time, it’s important to exercise at a sufficient intensity. Anywhere from moderate to vigorous intensity will give you the most benefit, and what may be moderate for one person might be vigorous for another.
One way to measure relative intensity is the talk test. Generally, if you’re doing moderate-intensity activity you can still carry on a conversation during the activity. If you’re exercising at a vigorous level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without catching your breath. And, if you can’t talk and do your activity at the same time, you are exercising too hard.
Another simple way to measure exercise intensity is how you feel while you’re doing it — your perceived exertion. Your perceived level of exertion may be different from what someone else feels doing the same type of exercise. An easy workout for one person may feel more difficult to someone less fit.
Your heart rate offers a more objective look at exercise intensity. In general, the higher your heart rate during physical activity, the higher the exercise intensity. Studies show that your perceived exertion correlates well with your heart rate. So if you think you’re working hard, your heart rate is likely elevated.
You can use either way of gauging exercise intensity. You can also use a heart rate monitor, but if you are paying attention to how you feel and your level of exertion, it’s not a necessity.
It’s important to warm-up your body at a lower intensity before engaging in a higher intensity workout, and to cool down as well, by gradually decreasing intensity prior to stopping. Also, pick an activity – or more than one – that fits into your lifestyle and that you enjoy doing. Mix it up. Take a brisk walk with a friend, cycle with your family on the weekends, swim or do the elliptical at the gym. You don’t have to do the same thing every time, and you may discover new activities to include as time goes on. The bottom line is this: Make aerobic activity a regular part of your life and you’ll feel better, look better, and live healthier and younger for years to come.
Over the years, I have become somewhat of a collector of inspirational quotes. I have always loved words, so this is likely an extension of that. I find that inspiring words can lift you up and keep you going, often just at the right time. Sometimes they can encourage you to dream bigger dreams, or to think of things in a different way. They can help and they can heal. Occasionally, they can be life changing. With that in mind, I thought I would occasionally share some thoughts that have made a difference in my life, with the hope that they might do the same for you:
“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” George Eliot
I saw this years ago on a poster in a store, and immediately adopted it as my own. I love it so much, I use it as a tag line on my website now. So many of us sell ourselves short because we think it’s too late and this is a beautiful reminder that it never is.
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.” William James
Another way to put it is this: Our attitude shapes our experience and, ultimately, our life. There may not be much I can do in the moment about a specific circumstance, but I can always do something about how I choose to view that circumstance.
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” ― Dale Carnegie
Three words: Never give up.
“The best things in life aren’t things.” Art Buchwald
This one might take a little time to learn, but once you get it, you get it.
Finally, these words delivered by Steve Jobs to the graduating class at Stanford University in June, 2005, never fail me as a reminder of what’s most important:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
COACH’S ACTION STEP: Do you have a favorite or inspiring quote that has made a difference in your life? Put it up somewhere where you can see it regularly – on a post-it, by your desk or computer. Try to bring it into your daily experience, and see what happens.
“Either you run your day or your day runs you.” Jim Rohn
The one resource everyone has in common is time. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, where you live, what you look like, or who you know – we all get the same twenty-four hours, seven days a week. Lots of people never have enough, while others seem to get by pretty well on their allotment. Nowadays, a recurrent theme I hear is “life balance,” that is, having an adequate amount of time to devote to the significant areas of your life – family, work, friendships, responsibilities and interests. Here again, some folks seem to do just fine, while others struggle to hit the right note. What gives?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I truly believe what fits for one person might not work at all for the next. Employing a variety of “time management tips” isn’t likely to create lasting lifestyle change, if those changes aren’t tailored to us as individuals. There are times, too, when life throws us a curveball and we need to make adjustments. That being said, here are a few ideas that might get you started on a custom fit for your life.
- Plan your week ahead and be sure to schedule in personal time. If you want to work out four times a week, block that time on your calendar. If Saturdays or Sundays are family time, then make those inviolate. If you have a work deadline that requires an afternoon, that goes on the calendar. Smart planning can create time you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
- Stick to your plan. Having a plan is great, but will do nothing for you if you repeatedly let it fall by the wayside. There are times when it takes discipline, not always a popular idea. At times like that, it helps to remember that discipline is freedom. Doing what you need to do now frees you up to do what you want to do later.
- Be flexible. Things happen that can throw you off track for a day or a week, or more. At those times, remind yourself that all you can do is your best. Make adjustments, do what needs to be done, and try to get back on track as smoothly as possible as soon as possible.
- An oldie but goodie, because it works: Lists, lists, lists. Lists keep you organized. Know what you need to get done before the day starts, starting with the three most important tasks. After that, if something on your list doesn’t get done that day, just carry it over to the next.
- You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating: Learn to say no. You can’t do everything. Decide what is most important to you. Say no to what isn’t.
- Employ the one-hour-a-day formula. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in one focused hour. If you have a project to complete, or a long-term goal, give yourself a one hour block of time, say, 5 days a week to work on it. This can keep you moving forward without feeling burdensome. Most of us can find one hour a day to focus on something really important.
- Practice mindfulness. A definition of mindfulness I like describes it as “the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment.” Take time out of your day to just be in the moment. Enjoy something beautiful. Get outside for a few minutes and appreciate the day, or enjoy your dog’s goofy antics. Listen to classical music. Breathe. Notice how you feel afterward. Taking mindfulness breaks can make a huge impact in your day.
These are just ideas. Try one or more on for size. If it’s a fit, great. If not, try another. Or come up with your own. Whatever you come up with, I hope it’s something that lets you make the most of your moments, and your day.
I have always felt that no one can understand someone’s situation better than someone who has been there themselves.
Today’s expert article is written by my friend, Mary Jean Sadlak. Mary Jean is a life coach who specializes in working with women going through divorce, or beginning life after a divorce. She is warm, gracious and compassionate, and has been there and back. She has not only survived, she has moved forward positively. Today, she works with women who are either going through divorce, or re-emerging after divorce, to help them to rebuild their lives and come out the other side so that they can not only survive but thrive in this next chapter of life. Mary Jean knows it can be done, and shares some of her thoughts about that here.
There is Always Time for a Smile
So, you are working to GET THROUGH/RECOVER from your divorce, REDISCOVER who you are and of course, MOVE ON. That is wonderful! Remember, it takes time. However, with commitment, it is definitely something you can do.
Now, let’s not get so serious that we forget to smile. It is important to remember that smiling, laughing and having fun will accelerate the process of recovery and help you feel better, too. Research has shown that when we make a half smile, our brains release chemicals (serotonin and endorphins) which help us feel uplifted and positive. Smiling not only helps us feel good but it also improves our mood.
Sit down and think about what makes you feel good, makes you smile and maybe, even makes you laugh. Is it being with a group of friends or one especially “funny” or trusted friend for tea, lunch, or dinner? Is it relaxing with your family? Is it listening to your favorite music? Is it dancing to your favorite music? How about spending time with your pet(s)? Babies, little kids, puppies and kittens make people smile, know any? Go looking for fun. Even if it is a walk in the woods or a visit to a perfume counter in your favorite department store, it is worth doing if it makes you feel good. The one rule is that you do not need to spend money to have a little fun. The smallest thing can make you smile.
Sometimes, it is interesting to consider what funny things have happened in your life and even in your divorce. Not ready for that yet? That’s alright. Someday, you may find humor in parts of your past. I have memories of many little moments that now, make me laugh. Keeping a journal of “The Ridiculous Moments in My Past” can help you vent, heal and smile. On the lighter side, here are some small ways you can help yourself remember to smile:
1. Every day, repeat Thich Nhat Hahn’s very wise affirmation, “Smile, Breathe, Go Slowly”. Repeat it many times a day. Listen to what it means. Become aware of how you are feeling. Follow what it says. Let yourself enjoy the iimprovement in your feelings. Enjoy your smile.
2. Every day, read comics, jokes, funny quotes, or sayings. If you can find them, read New Yorker cartoons. Subscribe to an app or daily e-mail for a joke a day. Make a point of welcoming a little humor into your life each day.
3. Read or listen to light humorous books by authors such as David Sedaris, Erma Bombeck, Bill Cosby or whoever appeals to you. Choose humor or inspiration. Choose your reading carefully.
4. Watch funny movies. Watch funny programs on TV. Highlights of The Daily Show on Comedy Central is a favorite of mine. Choose your viewing carefully. Whatever you feel while you are watching your shows is what you will feel when you are done. Why not go for feeling good?
5. Check out YouTube for funny videos. Some of the Laughing Yoga videos based on the work of Dr. Maden Kataria of laughteryoga.org or Robert Rivest of robertrivest.com may tickle you.
ACTION STEP: Put humor on your daily agenda. Choose one thing that makes you smile and commit to doing it every day. You will be amazed at what a difference it makes in your life.
Mary Jean Sadlak is a life coach and licensed psychologist-doctorate who lives in Vermont. Having gone through a 5 year divorce, she is especially interested in coaching women who are going through a divorce or re-emerging after a divorce. Her mission is to help divorcing/divorced women find their strengths, improve their ability to take care of themselves, envision the life they want, set goals and move forward in a positive direction. On a personal note, Mary Jean loves being out in nature, hiking, exploring and looking for wildlife. Friends and family are very important to her. She practices meditation and yoga every day. Spirituality/love based thinking is a central focus of her life. For more information, or to contact Mary Jean go to: http://www.womenre-emerging.com/
Spring is here, summer is coming, and the outdoors is calling. This is such a great time of year because, interspersed with colder days and even snow (for some of us), the promise of warmer weather is in the air. Spring also signals newness – gardens are planted, flowers begin to bloom, birds and wildlife return with offspring in tow. There is a sense of possibility in the air.
With all of that going on, lots of us find ourselves longing to be outside. According to the latest research, there are lots of good reasons to do that. So, to inspire you along those lines, here are some findings on the benefits and rewards that outdoor exercise gives us.
- It’s free! You don’t need a membership to join, and it’s accessible by simply stepping out your front door. Plus, it’s available anywhere at any time. You don’t have to drive to the gym, or work around a class schedule. One of my favorite ways to see a city when I travel is to put on my running shoes and go for a run. Obviously, I check out a route before and make sure the area is safe, but that’s it. I have had some of my best experiences in new places this way.
- Research studies suggest that we work harder, expending more energy and therefore calories when we exercise outdoors as opposed to, say, a treadmill or stationary bike. Changes in terrain, wind resistance, running uphill or down – these factors all force our body to adapt, resulting in greater energy demands. If your time is limited and you want to burn more calories, exercising outdoors is the way to do it.
- It’s more fun. Studies have been done in which volunteers went for two walks for the same time or distance — one inside, on a treadmill or a track, the other outside. In virtually all instances, the participants reported enjoying the outside activity more. Compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments seemed to produce greater feelings of vitality and wellbeing, and decreases in tension, anger, and depression. Volunteers also reported greater energy and satisfaction with the outdoor activity, and an associated desire to repeat the activity again.
- It’s good for your mind. Being outside in nature gives you changing scenery that is stimulating mentally, as well as motivating. Whether you work out at home or in a gym, indoor scenery is not going to vary much. Outdoor activity wakes up your body and your mind. It’s simply more interesting, which gives your brain a workout, too.
- We’ve heard this a million times and it’s true – Sunshine, light and fresh air are good for you! Sunlight is known as a mood booster, and the vitamin D you get is a bonus. It makes your bones stronger and supports your immune system. Vitamin D obtained from moderate exposure to the sun is considered the best source for the human body. Also, if you are going to be outdoors for any length of time, you need sunscreen with a high SPF, and a hat. Really, what’s better, the AC blasting at the gym or the smell of nature and clean air?
Remember biking around the neighborhood or exploring parts unknown when you were a kid? If you’ve ever had the experience of running on a beach, or skiing down a mountain in bracing cold air, you know how much fun the outdoors can be. It’s play. If you find your workouts have gotten stale, or you’ve been getting bored with the indoor track, take your workouts outside. You may discover a whole new world.