Ensuring Exercise is a Happy Stressor
We all know that exercise is an important part of maintaining good health, but lately so many of my patients have been taking what’s supposed to be a positive stressor to their body, and turning into a big and overwhelming burden that’s only worsening their health concerns.
I’m especially concerned when patients are already coming in tired, not sleeping well, having hormone issues or barely keeping their health and wellness heads above water. We need to make sure that exercise is a happy stressor to the mind and body and not moving us in the wrong direction.
Pushing Into and Past Exhaustion
THIS is the biggest issue I’m seeing lately. Exercise is indeed an important part of good health, stress relief and weight loss, but some of my patients are doing multiple workouts per day and are pushing their bodies way past where they should. Is this you? If you’re ending your workout exhausted and needing to lie down on the floor afterwards or needing a pre-workout to have enough energy to perform the workout, you’re overdoing it, plain and simple. At the end of your workout, I want you to aim for getting that lovely endorphin rush (those feel-good hormones) and feel energized and pumped up. I want your workout to have been challenging without being overwhelming on your body. When things get overwhelming, your body starts to use up nutrients quicker than it can replenish them and things start to break down, which is when we see injuries, hormonal imbalances, increasing daytime fatigue, insomnia, and worse! Listen to your body and don’t push harder than you should!
Doing too Much too Quickly
Another big problem is doing too much, too quickly. This is the quickest way not only to injuries, but to exercise burnout. If you’re just getting back into things after a bit of a break, or you’re starting out new and fresh, go slowly and gently. This will help your body adapt to its new challenge and will help to ensure you aren’t pushing way past your limits into injury or overwhelming your new exercise body. Set REASONABLE goals for yourself and slowly ramp things up to give your body its best chance at success.
Working through an injury, especially when supervised by a professional is one thing, but pushing through pain and gritting your teeth to continue your regular routine or meet a goal is a terrible idea. I’ve seen this cause injuries that took literally months and years to recover from. If your body is saying no, or something isn’t feeling good, it’s really important to listen and adjust accordingly. There are so many ways to stay active that an injury generally shouldn’t mean you can’t do anything at all.
Tips to get the most out of your workouts
If you’re just getting back into things or you’re starting out for the first time, just get out there and move! Set yourself a goal to go for a short walk everyday, even if it’s just 10 minutes to start. Consider simple things like working in your garden, going for a swim, taking your dog for a walk, playing with your kids or grandkids or even doing a big house clean. All this will help to get your blood flowing, work those muscles that maybe haven’t been worked in a little while and help you get through to the next stage of exercise that’s a little more rigorous without injury or overdoing things. Once you’ve got a good baseline established, then you can start to ramp things up if your body is happy with what you’re doing.
Mix up Your Activities
The same set exercise routine may work for many people, but I’m one of those people who needs to constantly rotate and mix things up! You can mix up where you’re exercising, what activity you’re doing or who you’re doing it with! This will make sure you don’t suffer from boredom of the same monotonous workout and quit because it’s the same old, same old. Brainstorm some ideas of favourite activities you have, then branch out to things you’ve never tried before—you may find a new favourite hobby!
Seek Professional Help with Training
If you’ve never worked out before and are wanting to learn how to properly and safely lift weights, or decide you want to train for your first 5km run, OR you’ve been at this for a little while you’re wanting to step up your game and run your first ultra marathon, a coach or trainer can make the biggest difference between success and injury or body overwhelm. They know how to help you pace and manage so that your goal will be within reach for your specific needs and conditions.
Working up a good little sweat is not only going to deplete your body of needed fluids, it’s also going to use up electrolytes. This means you’ll need ADDITIONAL hydration over what you normally aim for (and if you’re a coffee drinker, it means you’ll need even more!). The brand doesn’t really matter, but I DON’T want you drinking any of those garbage sports drinks that are simply full of high fructose corn syrup and dyes (you know the ones I mean!). Make sure you check out www.drshannonmorgenstern.com/blog for my latest posts on hydration with more tips and tricks to stay hydrated during exercise that go beyond boring old water.
Find a Workout Partner
Having someone to push you when you’re feeling unmotivated AND having someone to keep motivated can also mean the difference between regular success and settling back into your normal routine of inactivity. Find someone you can count on to keep you pumped up and having fun while getting a little exercise in! It will help the time pass more quickly and be more enjoyable for both of you.
Cater Workouts to How You Feel
THIS IS A REALLY IMPORTANT ONE! Some days you’re going to feel stronger and more able to push yourself than others, and your workouts should absolutely reflect this. If you’re having a hard week or noticing that your energy levels are lower than normal, scale back those weights, sets and reps, and give your body the extra little bit of rest that it needs. If we can avoid burnout from the beginning it’ll make everything much easier!
Dr Shannon Morgenstern is a Naturopathic Doctor, educator and guide, who helps patients to find more balance, rejuvenate from the inside out and reach a state of health and happiness. Her mission is helping patients like you to go from living a stressful life of mediocrity to living a life of calm and inspired thriving. She often works with patients who are stressed out beyond belief, struggling to function and who are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Dr Morgenstern is able to provide the support and motivation to have you go from feeling bored and discontented with life, to feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the world. She practices out of a beautiful clinic in Calgary Canada called Naturmend. Make sure you check out her website www.drshannonmorgenstern.com for up to date info and free tips!