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Turning Fitness Theory into Practice

turning fitness theory into practice

by Stephanie Van Dystadt

With warmer weather upon us and fitness facilities that may or may not be fully open as you read this, some of you may be having mixed emotions.

On the one hand: “Hooray! I am so excited to get back in the groove and to get myself back into a fitness routine!”

On the other hand: “Yikes! How do I get back into my routine? What is the first step? What if I cannot keep up? What if I have lost everything I worked so hard to attain?”

Or maybe the pandemic made you realize: “OMG! I really need to get healthier!” If you thought there were no easy answers or shortcuts to a healthier you… um, you were right. It can be tough. Serious exercise, three to six times a week. And it never ends. But if you do it right, it can be amazing!

Whoever you are, know that hope is far from lost. Do not be discouraged to take that step.

It is a beginning and a path to a stronger, more vibrant and healthier you—regardless of your starting point!

“Fitness takes longer to gain than it does to lose,” says Laurie P. Whitsel, vice president of policy research and translation for the American Heart Association. “But try not to despair,” she says: “life has been crazy lately, so you just have to forgive yourself and move forward.” “If you have taken a break during COVID-⁠19, that’s fine,” Dr. Whitsel says. “This is a stressful time. Maybe we have devoted more time to our families, or we are adjusting to working a different way. So, take time off; that is OK. Then, jump back in and do those wonderful things for your heart. You do not want to give that up.”

When training becomes less frequent or ceases altogether, cardiovascular fitness tends to be lost more quickly than muscle strength. The Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation recommends adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. It is also important to combine endurance activities—such as walking or cycling—with strength-and-power activities—such as weightlifting—as well as flexibility activities—such as yoga—to get all the benefits needed for healthy living.

In addition to the physical changes which may have occurred during these past 15+ months, we must also take account as to what is going on psychologically. According to Dr. Sherry Pagoto: “Theories of human behaviour have long shown that immediate experience often outweighs future rewards.” This means that it is quite challenging to do something unpleasant, even if we know it will bring us beneficial results in the long run. Exercise is uncomfortable. Combined with having “fallen off the wagon” or “never gotten on to begin with,” it may leave you feeling like you are facing an unsurmountable hurdle.

The good news? Regardless of how long a break you have taken, it is more than possible for you to get back in the game.

Here are some tips to take that first step:

Check your health: It is very important to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.

Plan. Schedule your workouts in your calendar. Carve out that time as you would any appointment or meeting.

Start low and go slow. Do not make the mistake of starting too aggressively and then not sticking with the program because of tiredness, soreness, or—worst of all—injury. Slow and steady always wins in the end.

Create consistent habits that will build upon one another to carry through for a lifetime.

Pace yourself and stay consistent. Make sure to “move in some way” on most days, if not all.

Set small, challenging, measurable, but achievable goals for yourself.

Create accountability. Work out with someone in your bubble, commit with a Zoom exercise buddy, or join a group-based virtual program led by a coach.

Mix it up. Move your body in some way each and every day: Walking, biking, online at-home workouts, yoga, outdoor group-based training, swimming… Find something or a combination of several things you enjoy doing and do it!

Exercise is a wonder drug, but you cannot feel the effects until you fill your own prescription.

We have provided a list of some exercises you can do to start with, even from home, to get ready for your post-COVID comeback!

You do not have any equipment? No worries. Here are some at-home hacks that can be used to easily get your sweat on.

Heavier weights: Use 5-litre detergent jugs. Think lunges, squats, dead lifts.

Medium weights: Use 2-litre filled plastic bottles. Think low rows, biceps curls, triceps extensions.

Light weights: Use cans of soup or legumes. Think shoulder press, lateral and front raises.

Note: If using one in each hand simultaneously, be sure they are the same weight!

Additional exercise routines can be found on the internet. YouTube has opened the door to thousands of free videos on demand.

Orangetheory Fitness offers hundreds of expertly designed and coach-led workouts on YouTube. Backed by science, these endurance, strength, and power workouts can easily be done from the comfort of your living room. Visit FlourishBodyandMind.com/Orangetheory.

The most difficult part will be taking that first step. Go ahead: I dare you!

Stephanie Van Dystadt

Being impactful and empowering others to live their best life is how I choose to live each and every day. Always learning, never getting it 100%, but always trying to be better than yesterday. Fitness. Nutrition. Awareness. Living consciously and fully, one day at a time.