How Much Exercise Do You Really Need to Get in Shape?
Maybe you’ve started to eat better, you’re eating a lot more plant-based now and maybe you’re losing weight. Nourishing your body with a wholefood plant-based diet is key to good health, but are you active and doing some exercises too? Although you can lose weight without exercising it really has so many health benefits to offer – mental as well as physical.
But, how much exercise do you *actually* need to get in shape?
Twenty minutes three times per week? Half-hour per day?
And how much is too much?
Do you need to sweat it out for an hour or more every day?
Let’s go over the (sometimes) mysterious amount of exercise that is ideal. Ideal for your health and wellness and ideal for getting into shape.
Starting with the minimum.
WHAT’S THE MINIMUM AMOUNT OF EXERCISE?
Of course, you’re going to have to start from where you are right now. If you’re not already exercising regularly, there is no need to go overboard. In fact, trying too much too soon may derail your motivation, and become a reason you just throw in the towel. You’re also much more likely to injure yourself if you go ‘all out’.
So, let’s say you’re not that active (yet). What if I were to recommend “ten to twenty minutes every other day at a level you think you can do?” How does that sound as a starting point?
Is that a yes?
HOW TO DESIGN YOUR EXERCISE PLAN
There isn’t just one answer for everyone. The main rule is to begin with where you are. Take note of your fitness level and your goals and increase and improve slowly. There really is no quick fix (at least no quick fix that will give you lasting long-term results).
Always consider what is reasonably sustainable for you, based on:
● What is your long-term fitness goal?
● What else is going on in your life (i.e. how much time do you really have)? Be realistic here but also be honest with yourself. What could you spend a bit less time doing so you can exercise? Remember that you can watch TV and exercise at the same time!
● What is your current state of fitness?
But don’t stop there!
As you create a sustainable exercise habit, it will start getting easier. So, don’t forget to make it a bit more challenging as you go. Every week do something to push yourself a bit farther than you were before. If you’re strength training, do another repetition or try a heavier weight. If you’re doing cardio, go a bit longer, farther, and/or faster.
A great motivational tool is to log your workouts. You can keep is simple and just use a notepad or workbook or use an app. Just enter your reps, sets, and/or times, each time you workout. This will not only help you to keep motivated to continue, but it will also help you see where you can squeeze in that extra challenge as you progress.
After several weeks you can evaluate your progress and decide if you’re going to stick with what you’re doing, ramp it up, or change it completely. Eventually, you will find yourself getting stronger, and fitter!
Aim to work up to a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately aerobic activity over the week, things like cycling, dancing or fast walking. Anything that raises your heart rate and make you breathe a bit faster. You also want to be doing some strength exercises to work the major muscle groups. These can be exercises that use your own body weight or with some free weights. Yoga and pilates are also great muscle-strengthening exercises.
Now you might be thinking this is not the best time of year to start exercising, but any time and any day is a good time to start. Don’t put it off! Overthinking and coming up with reasons (excuses!) why you can’t will just make it harder for you. Starting is the hardest part so decide what you’re going to do and get going!
If you’d like some help with motivating yourself with your exercise and healthy eating goals, then why not join my FREE Facebook community? You’ll be able to connect with others who understand how you feel, discover new recipes and get the answers you want on all things plant-based.
DON’T FORGET YOUR NUTRITION
While exercise is very, very good for your health, wellness and longevity, it’s not the only thing to consider. What you eat is going to have as big, or bigger, impact on your shape.
Some of my favourite super-simple tips that can have a huge impact with minimal effort are:
● Eat more veggies.
● If you eat meat try swapping the meat in dishes for beans, lentils, chickpeas, tempeh and tofu.
● Swap fizzy drinks for water or soda water with fruit.
● Cut right down on processed food and sweets. The more sugar you have the more you want!
● Reduce the serving size of your main meals (try using a smaller plate).
● Eat slower and savour each bite. Chew your food thoroughly and really enjoy every mouthful. This will help you to not only overeat, but it will also help with your digestion and ensure you get maximum absorption of all those essential nutrients.
● Carry around healthy (unsweetened fibre-rich) snacks like nuts and fruit.
You don’t need to exercise like crazy to get into shape and you don’t need to slog it out in a gym. I promise! But you do need to do the following:
● Start from where you are, and don’t go overboard.
● If you’re a beginner, that means 10 - 20 minutes every other day at an easy level.
● Log your workout progress to track improvements and keep motivated.
● Slowly increase the difficulty every week as you get stronger and fitter.
● Don’t forget to eat your veggies, reduce processed foods, carry around healthy snacks and drink water throughout the day.
● Talk with your doctor before beginning any new exercise or nutrition programme.
● Join my FREE Facebook community to get help with your weight loss and healthy eating goals in a supportive environment. I look forward to welcoming you there!