If aerobic exercise is to be beneficial to the body-mind-soul, the no pain, no gain mantra must be discarded!
'Aerobic exercises: a series of strenuous exercises, which help convert fats, sugars, and starches into aches, pains, and cramps.' ~ Author Unknown
Many of you believe that aerobics is the ticket to health. Add flexibility exercises and weight/resistance training and your level of overall fitness drastically improves. This article is not meant for those who are new to fitness. This article assumes that you already have basic knowledge on aerobic exercise and how to perform it.
A lot of you use aerobic exercises as a way to lose weight or to control your weight. Most healthy weight loss plans have some form of aerobics exercise included in their plan.
The problem with using aerobic exercise and other forms of exercise to lose weight is that studies show that you grossly overestimate the amount of calories you think you burn during exercise.
When research exercise subjects, doing aerobic exercise on a treadmill for a prescribed time to burn off a set amount of calories, were asked how many calories they thought they burned, the subjects overestimated the calories by 300-400 percent!
Let me put that in perspective for you. If you actually burned 200 calories in a 30-minute workout you may assume that you burned 600-800 calories instead. This is a huge difference. That’s the difference between a nice bowl of ice cream, or a cheeseburger. Imagine how 300-400 unacknowledged calories a day would add up over time.
To add insult to injury, the above figures only apply if you weighed at least 180 lbs and walked at a brisk pace of 4 miles/hour, to burn the 200 calories in a half hour. If you are smaller, like me, the amount of calories burned in one-half hour at a brisk 4 mph walk uses only 140 calories! That is only about the same calories as a piece of bread!
If I keep my diet constant, and burn an extra 140 calories a day for 7 days a week, day in and day out, it would take me almost 4 weeks to burn one pound through exercise! And that’s if I never missed a single day.
Can you see why it is so hard to lose weight through exercise alone? And it is very unhealthy to become obsessive about exercise to lose weight. Exercise Bulimia is a real problem with many people, especially young women who purge calories from their bodies through exercise addiction.
When it comes to how many calories you think you are eating, the converse is true. When the research subjects above, from the treadmill study were shown a buffet and told to eat the same calories that they just burned off on the treadmill, the subjects ate double and triple the amount of calories they just burned off!
People consistently repeat this behavior ~ overestimating the amount of calories they think they burn during exercise AND underestimating the number of calories they think they eat! Is it any wonder that most weight loss plans fail?
Now for my holistic twist on aerobic exercise. (Did you really think this wasn’t coming?) I believe that aerobic exercise needs to be viewed in a completely different light than merely a means to lose weight. Yes, it aids your health and can improve your cardiovascular function. It can also provide enormous benefits in your improvement of your muscle tone and in your body shapeliness.
But better still, if aerobic exercise is viewed as a body-mind-soul activity, it can improve your mental well
being too. Exercise is a proven method to relieve stress and increase
your feel-good endorphins. It helps to dissipate all your accumulated
stress by giving you an outlet. However....
If you just add a bunch of unrealistic goals to your workouts, exercise may just add to your stress instead of alleviating it. So why not make it a total body-mind soul exercise?
When I do 'aerobic exercise' I never worry about my pulse rate being in a certain range. What I do instead is to see how much I can do, how fast I can go, with the lowest possible pulse! That way no cortisol is released that stresses my body to go into fight or flight mode. No stress or anxiety is placed on my body.
Try this exercise some time to see what I am referring to. Take the stairs the next time you are in a tall building, at least 4-5 flights. Go only so fast as you can comfortably breathe through your nose. You will find that instead of huffing and puffing and having your heart rate go sky-high, that you will stay more relaxed. As a result your body will perform better.
John Douillard, MD, recommends this training technique in his book, Body, Mind and Sport (this is an affiliate link). He uses Ayurvedic methods to improve your physical fitness while training your body to stay relaxed! What a concept! You only go as fast or as hard as you are able to breathe through your nose. No gasping for air with your mouth.
Try this stair stepping exercise over several days/weeks and see how you improve. Remember to go only as fast as you can and still breathe through your nose - No stress on your body.
Aerobic exercise needs to become a source of enjoyment, or stated better perhaps, a source of joy! It is an intuitive movement that never pushes through any pain, but benefits the entire body-mind-soul. The no-pain-no-gain mantra must be discarded! You will never develop life-long habits for body-mind-soul health if you do not enjoy the aerobic exercise that you are doing, or if you have to push through any pain to continue it.
Now I know that exercise bulimics push through unbelievable pain to reach weight maintenance or weight loss goals. That is another subject altogether. In researching this article, I came across a quote by Barbara Ehrenreich ~ ‘Exercise is the yuppie version of bulimia.' How true!
Exercise solely to lose weight can quickly degenerate into something like exercise bulimia, an ailment that uses aerobic exercise in an excessive amount that is detrimental to health.
If your body aches and creaks from years of exercise abuse and overuse, it will catch up to you. You may be traveling down the road to permanent immobility and pain. Exercise bulimia is real. Exercise used as a way to eat anything you want, will catch up to you, I promise. Exercise addiction is like any other addiction. Eventually it becomes a destructive activity.
Instead, let us call aerobic exercise either intuitive movement or movement therapy. It should be fun, therapeutic and beneficial to your whole self, your integrated body-mind-soul. If you love tennis, play it whenever you can. When the tennis elbow or the sore shoulder develops, back off for a while and use this as your body’s signal that you are overusing it. Switch to another activity until the pain goes away.
If you love walks, start slowly and truly enjoy your surroundings. Slowly pick up the pace until the walk is invigorating and brisk. Say your affirmations to the rhythm of your step.
Take up a new sport. Join the local gym, join a new group, organize your own ball teams with friends, get out and shoot hoops with your son’s friends. There are so many ways to bring back the enjoyment in sports that fit the bill for aerobic exercise. Imitate children. They do not have to be taught how to make movement fun!
Aerobic exercise that is more rigorous also raises your endorphins - that natural feel-good hormone in your body that creates a natural high. Exercise is a natural way to improve your mood!
Throw away calorie goals, time and distance goals and focus on just having fun! Your life is already filled with so many demands and goals, don’t make your aerobic exercise a push as well. You just might find that exercise is so much of a part of your enjoyment in life, that it has become a habit. On rainy or snowy days, you miss the aerobic activity so much that you buy exercise equipment to move on, or you go to the gym because it is now movement therapy to you, not pain and punishment!
When your friends start the ego thing where they brag about how many miles they ran, how much weight they pushed around, and how flexible they are, just smile and nod your head. Let them push through their pain.
If they brag about their aches, pains, sore knees, tight iliotibial bands, tight pecs, you can just smile. Maybe even state that you listen to your body, because you wish to be active until you are 90, and plan to have all your pieces/parts intact to keep them moving until then!
If bodies were made to last 90 years, then the only way they will, is if you let your body tell you when enough is enough. When you listen to your aches and pains, and adjust your activity to suit your body, instead of your body needing to scream at you to get your attention, only then, are you on your way to aerobic exercise that will carry you into your 90's!
The choice is yours. For me, I plan to be hiking trails, swimming, kayaking, skiing and whatever I choose to do, well into my 90's! I also prefer to do it without the pains from years and years of overuse and forcing my body to do something it was not designed to do.
amount of activity is better than no activity at all. Whatever you do,
keep moving in some way, aerobic or not. Keep moving in an intuitive fashion that
listens to your body and feels no pain! Seriously consider taking up Yoga and other body-mind activities. Yoga helps you connect and listen to your body. Yoga helps you learn the breathing techniques I have been referring to in this article.
In order to maintain weight loss and to maintain the activities in your life that you enjoy, aerobic exercise must be included in all healthy weight loss plans and healthy life plans.
The best weight loss plans do include exercise of all types, including aerobic exercise, because creating muscle, strength and flexibility is so important for your overall health, especially as you age. But healthy weight loss plans must also include taking in fewer calories than you need, and for me, weight loss is best achieved through flexible, intermittent fasting, if you are a healthy adult.
Blessings to your on your journey to body-mind-soul health. May you make all your aerobic exercise be fun and may it always be intuitive, movement therapy!
(Aerobics) Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate. ~ Author Unknown