by Dr. Andrea Hilborn, ND 1. Exercising to burn calories
Exercise doesn't actually burn many calories for the time you invest. For example, my 15 minute treadmill routine where I run 1.5 miles burns about 120 calories, which is what is contained in 1 apple. Also, unless you are strictly monitoring and restricting your calories (a practice I don't recommend), your body will just increase your hunger level, so that you take in more calories to compensate. The real benefits of exercise come from how exercise impacts your metabolism. It affects how your body manages the energy molecules it has available. There are also many other benefits: stronger bones, better mood, increased resilience to stress . . . I could go on!
Fix: Push yourself when you exercise. When it comes to aerobic exercise, interval training (when you do short bursts of intense activity between short periods of easy activity), has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, increase aerobic capacity (an excellent predictor of longevity) and reverse artery calcification (something that was actually believed to be impossible). Of course, I have to add the caveat that you should check with a doctor before changing your aerobic exercise, and that you should ease into this, see #3.
2. Being intimidated by experienced exercisers
Nobody is born knowing the ins and outs of going to the gym. Some people might act like they were born or live at the gym, but they really care more about what you think of them than vice-versa! Everyone who wants to be healthy has to start somewhere, and whoever looks down on someone who is trying to do good for themselves will suffer from bad kharma. I am so impressed by the people I see at the gym- people who have lots and lots of weight to lose, people in their 70's and beyond, and I even noticed one woman who requires a cane. People of all descriptions are exercising.
Fix: There are many ways too get around the initial feeling of intimidation. One solution is to find a friend to start exercising with, or perhaps a friend who already knows the ropes. Another solution is to hire a personal trainer. Personal trainers can get you started with an exercise program tailored to your needs.
3. Going from zero to 100 overnight
The number one reason that people stop an exercise routine is because they get an injury. Also, if you push yourself too hard, you will get severe delayed onset muscle soreness (the soreness you feel after undergoing an unusual degree of physical activity). This is very uncomfortable and unnecessary. It can also be a deterrent to getting back to exercising the next day.
Fix: Increase your level of activity slowly and consistently. Remember the tortoise and the hare? When it comes to exercise, slow and steady wins the race. Maybe not the best metaphor for this application . . .
Now that you know how to avoid the 3 biggest exercise mistakes, you can avoid them. If you want to learn more about insulin sensitivity, aerobic capacity, bone strength and other health topics, I encourage you to come into Kingston Natural Route Health and chat with Alanna and I.