Exercise Variation: Why It Is Important

January 25, 2023

Moving your body is an excellent thing. Over the last 6 months, we have shared the health benefits of exercise with cardiovascular health, musculoskeletal health, weight management, diabetes management/prevention, and mental health being at the top of the list. But did you know there is an optimal way to move your body based on your goals?

Walking every day, doing HIIT workouts, attending yoga 3 times per week, or riding your spin bike daily are all great activities, however if you engage in the same activity each day, you should consider varying your exercise. Our body needs a balance of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and stretching/mobility-focused work to achieve optimal results. How you vary your exercise is based on your goals. Below are a few sample ways to vary exercise based on different goals.

Scenario 1: Weight Loss – consider 2-3 days per week of HIIT workouts, 2 days per week of strength, daily mobility

HIIT workouts: If you are exercising for general health but also with a primary goal to supplement your nutritional efforts and lose weight, you should consider adding some HIIT or high intensity interval training to your weekly workouts. HIIT training is a style of training where you have short bursts of high intensity to elevate your heart rate, followed by periods of recovery. This can be a very effective and efficient way to workout. It helps to rev your metabolism and keep that going up to 24 hours after your workout.

Scenario 2: Building Muscle – consider 3 days per week of strength training, 2 days of cardiovascular (HIIT or other), daily mobility

Strength training: we are fans of functional strength training which includes free weights, resistance bands, kettle bells, heavy stuff around your house or just your body weight. This allows you to work the muscle through a full range of motion and in movement patterns that match your daily activities or physical needs vs. traditional “weight machine”.

Scenario 3: Stress management and mental health – 3 days per week of walking/yoga, 2 days strength, daily mobility

High intensity exercise causes cortisol release, the hormone that is also released during stress. If you have high stress and are leaning into exercise to help with stress management and your overall mental health, consider lighter intensity workouts such as walking in nature, hiking, or yoga that won’t further elevate your cortisol.

Just like there is no one size fits one exercise, there is no one size fits all exercise routine. Contact lifestyle medicine practitioner, Mary Rose Strickland, with specific questions regarding your exercise goals and routine at DrMaryRose@newlifept.com