So here we are at the end of our series called “The neglected four.” I don’t think you’ll be too surprised at #4….
How are you inserting these into your life in fun / productive ways? I hope this summer has provided you with opportunity for reflecting on their current place in your life and if / when you would benefit from adding these in or participating with them in new ways (ie, spending less time with people who don’t inspire you and more with those who do!)
Ready for #4? Exercise. Relate to that? Is it neglected in your life?
How many times do you hear people say “I know I should exercise.” Well here’s the bottom line on that… If you are one of those that say “I know I should exercise” but you’re not exercising, then you don’t actually know it, you just think it.
We only know those things we actually do.
So change your language and see how it changes your thoughts – and then your actions.
I have a real treat for you in this week’s newsletter. I went to an expert on the subject of exercise and asked for his thoughts. Michael Bradley is a long-time friend who has worked at the highest levels of collegiate athletics his entire career. His job is exercise – ensuring that university athletes are in top physical condition, which makes them much more mentally competitive. He has studied virtually every aspect of the sport and fitness industry, speaks at major conferences and is well published. He has written (just for my newsletter subscribers!) an excellent article called “Exercise for Adults.”
Granted, most of us are no longer in that competitive athlete stage or position in life, but that doesn’t mean our exercise isn’t to be taken seriously.
Exercise for Adults: Part 1
Exercise is mostly promoted and glamourized as an activity for athletes and the young. And while everyone can benefit from proper exercise, mature adults and the elderly have the most to gain, simply because they have the most to lose if their physical capacity deteriorates.
For all of its benefits, serious adults looking for legitimate evidence-based information on exercise find themselves in a blizzard of conflicting information: What they read or hear this month contradicts what they were told last month. Programs are tried and discarded as they jump from one to the other before finally quitting.
The word “exercise” is seldom defined, and so consequently, everything from gardening to walking to pole dancing has been prescribed as exercise. If gardening is exercise, why hire a gardener and a personal trainer? You can fire both of them, do the gardening yourself, and save money. Most of the confusion about exercise and the poor results come from a lack of understanding of exercise versus recreation. I define exercise as a purposeful and meaningful overload that creates a stress that can then be systematically progressed as the body adapts. By this definition, most of what people think of as exercise is not exercise: It is recreation. Such things as walking, dancing, and tennis may seem like exercise, but the overload is not meaningful. That is, these types of activities are not of high enough intensity to stimulate much of a change in the body. The overload is not purposeful either, but is rather general and locomotive in nature. Furthermore, there is almost no progression, and what progression does occur is random and accidental. This does not mean recreational activity is not of value — it is. And if you enjoy these activities and can do them safely, you should continue to do so.
Understand, however, that with recreation, you can create exercise effects without getting exercise results. That is, you can sweat, breathe hard, and ache and be sore for days from activities that do not stimulate meaningful changes in your body. I sometimes joke that we should bring a dump truck full of pea gravel into our exercise facility, give everyone a shovel, and have them shovel out the rocks for an hour. We could even call it “functional training.” Believe me, at the end of that hour everyone will “feel” as if they had exercised. But there is no amount of such activity that will create meaningful results. In fact, for those who are muscular and strong to begin with, a steady diet of shoveling labor will actually cause them to lose muscle and get weaker.
Francis Bacon said, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” A suntan is analogous to exercise results: Both are the body’s protective response to stress — a stress high enough to be perceived as a threat. A suntan is sometimes thought of as being a result of exposure to sunlight, but it is actually a response to a specific band of light — ultra violet radiation. The type of light used in heat lamps, such as those used by restaurants to keep food warm, is infrared radiation. You can lay exposed under a heat lamp for hours and get all of the effects of sun tanning, such as sweating and heat discomfort, but get none of the results of sun tanning because the precise stress that nature demands is not being applied. In our next installment, we will look at what nature demands the stress of exercise should be in order to get results.