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Activity is the Key – Not Exercise

Posted Jul 06 2011 2:00am

As its summer we ideally want to spend less time in the gym and more time outdoors. If it’s not sunny out at least its warmer and more bearable to exercise in the open than the rest of the year – and if you are lucky enough to live somewhere hot, well then a gym is not somewhere you really want to be with the nice weather.

Ideally we would all like to feel in good shape, feel well and exercise without the need for fancy equipment. Just using our bodies to move and maximise our natural capacity to shape the body, feel flexible and mobile.

Until the last few years I would spend way too much time exercising and way too much time in the gym – all in search of something futile and ultimately un maintainable. There have been some valuable lessons learnt and while some people will look at the tips below and be slightly confused by the discrepancies with ‘normal’ advice the tips have been very valuable in my own everyday life as well as others I have worked with…..

Try not to get preoccupied with exercise - this is the first step to being and feeling healthy. As soon as we lose the addiction or emotional connection exercise – as in feeling guilty. If you can get to the point where you don’t  ‘need’ to exercise or do a workout to makeup for too much drinking, eating, sitting around etc we are on the path to exercising and moving for health, not to force health.
This is easier said than done especially coming from a culture which makes us feel bad for not exercising on a regular basis.

Well, the truth is some of the healthiest people in the world do no ‘exercise’ so to speak. Sure they move and stay active but they do nothing that would be considered exercise in modern terms. On the other hand though I know many people who exercise on a regular basis who are some of the unhealthiest I know – not only do they lack vitality but they complain of feeling run down, weak and tired all the time. Go figure….

Spend more time outdoors - If we spend time outdoors movement and activity comes naturally. We are more inclined to walk, play and be more active in general. Feeling bored? go for a walk, or arrange to meet friends somewhere outdoors. I have always found that a good rule of thumb is to spend as little time indoors during the day as you can (weather permitting of course) this basically means you should take every opportunity to get out and live life in one way or another. And when possible always try to do your real exercise outdoors.

Master your Bodyweight - I often feel that people first getting into exercise and keeping active will go for jogging or cycling to stay fit. This is not what we need – sure it works and can make up part of a healthy lifestyle, but people totally neglect the simple things that they can do anywhere with no equipment – Squats, Pushups, Lunges, Jumps, Balancing exercises and Mobility . All of these things are tools for life and stuff that are taught in a short period of time and worked on regularly. The best thing is that these movements will build muscle, increase your metabolism and make your body more functional. The same cannot always be said about running or biking.

Avoid Over Exercising - If there is one piece of advice I would give to everyone it is to avoid over exercise. Keep things to the bare minimum to get the physical changes you like and spend the rest of your time living an invigorating life. Exercise in excess puts strain on the body, taxes the nervous system and adrenal glands and too much resistance exercise can build a lot of tension in muscles making them tight, tense and painful. Less is definitely more when it comes to exercise – one or two good workouts a week is more than enough. Spend the rest of your time living life and staying active naturally, especially when its summer and easy to get outdoors. Exercise when you feel restless, stiff or immobile – not for the sake of it.

In the end it comes down to too many of us living a life in which activity and exercise is bolted onto life rather than being a part of an invigorating and exciting life. Realising this and toning down exercise whilst increasing general activity and movement will be a massive breakthrough to how you look and feel.

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