By: Melanie Payne, NASM, Pre & Post Natal Certified
The physical and mental benefits of regular exercise are well known. Regular exercise can help us sleep better, have more energy, and be stronger. Not to mention, deliver countless health benefits, such as reducing your risk of a long list of health issues, depression, dementia, and many more!
More is always better...right?
Suppose exercise is good for us, and more of it is typically better. In that case, challenging ourselves with as much exercise as possible is best, right? Not so fast. While a generous amount of activity is good, too much of it - or the wrong balance of challenging and easier workouts - can be detrimental to our health and well-being! So how do you know when it is okay to push your body and when it's okay to take things a little easier?
As a general rule of thumb, if your workouts leave you feeling accomplished, energized, and elevated, then you're doing great! If that's the case, you should also see an improvement in your workout performance over time (i.e., progressively lifting heavier weights, running faster or farther), thereby reaping all the benefits that come with regular exercise.
How do I know if my workouts aren't serving my clients or me?
However, if your workouts don't work for you, you'll notice that the opposite is the case: You feel exhausted at the end of your sessions, or you dread even starting them. You might be in pain for days after a workout, and your activities may even cause you some degree of mental stress. These signs occur when your workouts don't match the capacity your mind and body have available then. Here are just a few situations and factors that can leave our bodies (and minds) begging for more mindfulness in our exercise routine:
- Long work hours
- Having chronic insufficient sleep
- High-stress situations caused by parenting
- Personal or work relationships
- Fighting off or recovering from illness
- Ignoring the physical and mental changes that come with different life stages (pregnancy or menopause for women, for example)
So what's the solution?
When your mind or body is not feeling so well, we need to think of "training" as "movement with purpose" rather than a tool to achieve a higher fitness level. That "purpose" should be to make your life a little better by moving your body in ways that make you feel physically and mentally happier. We don't need to "push" for our ultimate goals every single day; we instead need to find a balance between the days when we have the energy to do so and the ones when we don't. You as a trainer can help clients find that equilibrium in their workouts by looking at their lifestyle and training holistically. Only when you find that balance will you allow exercise to become a consistent part of your life and ultimately reach the goals you set for yourself and others!