The repercussions of not exercising are well known, but overdoing it can be just as detrimental. Because compulsive exercise—performed too often, for too long, at too high an intensity, without adequate recovery—is debilitating, it can actually accelerate aging. Just like extreme dieting and stress, compulsive working-out disrupts hormone balance, provokes cortisol, and thwarts fat loss. Women wanting to stay fit during the change, need an approach to exercise that is sustainable. The goal is to get fit without burning out.
Sustained fat loss and a leaner body composition, what most women want, are only possible when workouts support hormone optimization. With a focus on recovery and building the body up, a sustainable approach to fitness is balancing to hormones and fires up metabolism—compulsive exercise burns it out. Workouts should refresh and invigorate the body and mind. Strength and functional ability ought to improve or at least be maintained. The general gist is to walk, move, and breathe a lot; and to sprint, lift, and exert every-so-often. Described as being Casual with Occasional Intensity (CwOI), this “easy to take” approach to fitness is an especially good fit for women during the menopausal transition.
Walking is the supreme example of a casual exercise, as well as low effort gardening, and restorative yoga. The fat burning energy pathway predominates with this easy to sustain exerting and characteristics include: a relaxed facial expression, easy musculature, control of breath, and mild to approaching moderate intensity. Because it gets us to breathe deeper, clears the head, and enlivens the body; casual exerting should be done daily .
Examples of intense exercise (performed occasionally) include activity that is similar to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), max effort gardening (digging a hole, moving a heavy wheelbarrow), and sprinting. Done right, lean body mass is maintained or increased, and the decline of testosterone and growth hormone—natural occurrence with age and menopause—is minimized. Because it takes calories to sustain muscle, the preservation of lean body mass impacts metabolism and beyond that, intervals of intense exercise keeps our metabolic fire stoked long after the exerting is over. Other benefits include increased joint strength, mobility, and stability; and becoming stronger overall. Labored breath, short duration work approaching maximum effort, and total body effect with recruitment of major muscle groups are the characteristics of this all-out exerting.
Beyond improvements in body composition, hormone balance, and joint stability; there is also a reduction in chronic disease risk when exercise is done right. Most important, during the change, is that exercise enables rather than disables.
All of my workout related BFB (#BetterFatBurner) social media postings are examples of CwOI exercise. Progress is dependent on recovery so it is important to vary the intense exercises, don’t do intense workouts more than every other day, and keep it brief. Workouts can be as short as 5 minutes and to go longer than 20 minutes could be counterproductive. Always adapt any exercise to your current level of ability and never work in a range of pain. Adjust the pace, number of reps, and rest periods to match how you are feeling and never stress about following any workout to the letter.
Take a walk for 20 minutes or so everyday. Maybe go longer a few days a week and throw a sprint or two in once or twice a week. To sprint is to run like the devil is chasing you! Make sprints short (20 strides or less) and work up to them if it’s been a while. Progress from walking faster for 20 strides, then to jogging… to running… and then to sprinting for 20 strides.
When health conditions are present always check in with your personal healthcare practitioner before starting any exercise program.
This past week, Better Fat Burner (BFB) Approval went to:
Own the Change!
For daily BFB inspiration follow me socially (#BetterFatBurner) and check out my book…