Exercise Why? Where? When?

Why should I exercise?

Physical benefits. I grew up believing that moving depletes one’s energy, and to be wary of overdoing it. Today, I know that it is all about balance. Some types of physical exercise can be quite draining, while others provide physical and mental energy. Similarly, some kinds of exercise are not conducive to a better sleep, while others give one a better, deeper sleep.

Strong muscles help posture, joint flexibility, cardiovascular health, and are strongly related to bone health. Bones must be strong, but they also must be flexible. Strength training builds muscles that will hold bones in place, and supply bones with nutrients from maintaining circulation in blood vessels.

Mental benefits. It is well researched that exercise increases serotonin levels and reduces anxiety, improving sleep, and therefore is a tool to deal with stress in a constructive way.

What exercises should I do?

There are so many ways to move. The key is finding the exercises, and the perfect amount of exercise, that fits your physical and mental health requirements. This takes practice and experimentation. I believe that strength training, stretching, and cardio are the three pillars of a successful routine.

My cardio is 20-30 minutes of biking, five days a week. (I use a stationary bike in my basement during these winter months.) Twice a week, I walk instead. I stretch before and after my cardio, and also take a very warm bath or shower right after. This helps relieve muscle tension.

I schedule strength training three-to-four times weekly.

Radhika Bhagat from Care2Cure Physical Therapy in Dexter has this great tip about lifting weights:

“I always give clients that are starting to work out for the first time in the new year with weights - to know how much weight is just right. You should be able to perform three sets of 10 repetitions, and be fatigued at the end of the third set, to know that you are at the correct weight for building strength safely. Once three sets of 10 reps are easy, you are able to move up to the next weight category.”

Look up online which lifting exercises are appropriate for your age.

Where should I exercise?

I think you can only maintain a good workout routine if you have fun doing it. Find the places that make you want to exercise. I love being outdoors, and I found The Health & Fitness Center at Washtenaw Community College to be such a wonderful place to exercise. They have an excellent protocol of cleaning, social distancing, and mask use to protect against catching Covid-19. However, I did decide to hold off for four months, just to be safe.

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