Exercise, along with diet and sleep/stress reduction, is foundational for optimal health. Exercise not only builds muscle and cardiovascular strength, but also helps with relieving pain and stress through the release of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals made in your body that bind to the same receptors that opioids do, producing the same feelings of euphoria and pain relief without the risks. Exercise also stimulates the lymphatic system, which boosts your immune function.
If you are fortunate enough to have the time and money for a gym membership, you can have everything under one roof: classes, personal training, equipment for cardiovascular and resistance. Depending on your goals, we recommend getting your heart rate anywhere from 50-85% of maximum heart rate 2-3 times/week (heart rate chart readily available online). For resistance exercise, we recommend higher weights and lower repetitions (reps) to build muscle. More specifically, 3-5 sets of 5 slow (5-7 seconds per movement) reps with weights heavy enough to make it challenging to complete the 5th rep of each set. Rest for 1-2 minutes between each set. For women who fear this will make them look like those hulking bodybuilders, it will not.
For those of us who are short on time and/or money, the world is your oyster. We are fortunate enough to be living in Southern California. We pay plenty for the great access to beaches, parks, hiking trails and the best weather anywhere- we might as well take full advantage! Get outdoors: walk briskly, jog, run, hike, bike, swim. Keep free weights or bands at home (if using free weights, make sure to get instruction to avoid injuries). High intensity interval training (HIIT) is also a quick way to get a great workout in. Pick an activity (jumping jacks, jump squats, burpees, jump rope, sit ups, push ups, etc.) and do to exhaustion for 20-90 seconds. Rest for an equal amount of time. Repeat 5-7 times. You can have a challenging workout in around 15 minutes! Don’t forget a 3-5 minute warm-up and cool-down period!