How much exercise is “enough”?

How much exercise is “enough”?

I am almost tempted to reply to my own question with a “how long is a piece of string?” style rejoinder.

Seriously, I’ve been pondering the equation “how much is enough” quite a bit lately, mainly in response to comments from those around me that I have become “obsessed” with fitness and running.

And so, as I progress on my late-in-life (but oh-so-exciting!) fitness journey, I am faced with conflicting views and opinions.

Instinctively I feel that I should exercise more, to gain strength, to keep improving. Plus I am having SO MUCH fun along the way, discovering that it is never too late to learn new skills – like weight-lifting, my current passion.

But as I research the whole topic of fitness – especially senior fitness – there are so many different voices and so many opinions out there.

Take, for example, the goal of walking 10,000 steps a day. At one point, walking 10,000 steps was a generally accepted “benchmark”, to which we should all aspire.

Now, it seems, the experts are not so sure

Can you believe it? A marketing campaign gave us all a fitness objective…anyway, I still try and achieve this daily target, even if I now know it’s not scientific. It can’t be doing me any harm…can it?

Well actually…the experts are not even sure how all this pans out for youngsters, let alone oldies like me:

So, what does all that mean?

10,000 steps – yes or no?

Personally, I’ve decided to ignore the “science” and aim for my 10,000 steps a day regardless, since it is usually an achievable milestone for me.

Then, of course, there’s the question of how long one should exercise for.

To quote a recent article in the New York Times:

“For years, exercise scientists tried to quantify the ideal “dose” of exercise for most people. They reached a broad consensus of 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, and half as much if it is intense.”

And the paper promptly raises the very question I had:

“…what does “moderate ” mean?”

Once again, it’s almost like the “how long is a piece of string” question.

One person’s idea of moderate will not equate with another’s, but according to the expert quoted in the NYT:
“Moderate exercise means “activities that increase your breathing and heart rate, so the exercise feels like a five or six on a scale between one and ten…”

So, yes, many different voices out there, all offering us a bewildering variety of advice.

Then, of course, if you take social media into account, well, it’s guaranteed chaos and total pressure overload!

On Instagram, for example –

Everyone (seemingly) is an influencer.

Everyone (seemingly) is toned.

Everyone (seemingly) works out every day.

So here’s what I do.

I ignore 95% of what I see on Instagram.

I enjoy it, but I take very little of it seriously.

There are one or two excellent feeds out there, professional coaches (not models) showing you how to exercise, so I diligently follow them.

For the rest – all those gorgeous guys and gals with toned abs and perfect hair, with minimalist decor and never a drop of sweat – I glance and move on 🙂

Seriously though, it’s no wonder that so many impressionable youngsters can be negatively affected by the false world of Instagram. Luckily I’m w-a-y too old for that sort of thing…although I do get twinges of envy when I see other seniors lifting more, or doing brilliant headstands… 😛 😛

Joking aside, this is what I do, exercise-wise.

It’s not rocket science.

I follow the instructions of my super trainer, with whom I work out 3 times a week. Just this morning, I asked Vijay whether I should also have a more structured set of exercises for the days between our sessions, and he said no. I am to continue what I’m currently doing between our classes – namely some running, and what I call my “fun playing around sessions” in my basement gym.

All of which ties in neatly to a lovely concept from the NYT, namely “exercise snacks”. The idea of “bite-size workouts” is such a sensible one, and it’s what I do on my non-trainer days.

I pop downstairs to our basement, now grandly renamed The Gym, and put in about 10 or 15 minutes of whatever I feel like doing.

I’ll stretch for a bit.

Fool around on the pull-up bar for a bit.

Wobble on the wobble board for a bit.

Dance a bit.

Have fun, basically.

And then it’s back to the office.

Later on, I’ll repeat the process.

That way I enjoy what I’m doing, and small sessions seem more manageable, and can be fitted in between work and chores and life.

I don’t exercise till exhaustion. I’m not an athlete. I’m not training to be an athlete.

I’m trying to stay as fit and as flexible and as strong as I can, for as long as I can, and hold off the ageing process as long as possible.

I exercise for fun. And that is more than “enough” for me 🙂

I told you how much I am enjoying weight-lifting, didn’t I? Here you go – keeping it real with the messy hair, the grimacing and the dog 😛 😛

All you influencers beware 😛

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