The late Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson was once quoted as saying “You can never be too rich or too thin.” Those of you familiar with the positive psychology movement might know that money’s effect on happiness is not as clear cut as we once thought. After taking care of basic needs and a bit beyond, more does not necessarily mean better.
The same might be said for intense exercise. If you subscribe to Wallis Simpson’s approach and decide what doesn’t kill you will make you
thinner stronger , you might be equally mislead. Turns out too much high intensity exercise (no matter what the motivation) can undermine health rather than restore it..
If there is one paradigm shift I’ve had in my time working in the wellness industry it’s that including less vigorous forms of movement is just as (if not more so) important than performing vigorous workouts. In fact, once you reach a certain level of fitness and are physically able to push quite hard, rest periods are more crucial since you increase your capacity to stimulate cortisol (stress hormone) secretion. Not necessarily a bad thing in moderation, but too much and your health might suffer over time.
Just this past week the New York Times put out an article that being sedentary all day long may negate the benefits of working out all together. An intense training session in the morning may not negate the effects of a sedentary day, but rather a sedentary day might negate the effects of an intense training session.
Ok, so now that we have that out of the way , let’s get to the good stuff (after all, this is The Joyful Gym Rat, not The Depressing Gym Rat…). So we know that more is not necessarily better when it comes to intense exercise. And we know that workout intensity matters less than overall daily movement. All things considered, maybe a nourishing exercise routine is less daunting and more sustainable than we’ve been lead to believe?
I’m not saying we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. That Metabolic training session still has oodles of value. But so does that walk through the park. And that delicious restorative yoga class. And that dance class that is so fun you completely forget you are working out.
There is no need to ditch “Joyful Movement” in favor of “Grueling Workouts”. Or vice versa. To quote the late Biggie Smalls, “It’s all good baby, baby”. Your body appreciates any positive attention you give it. Pigeon-holing yourself into a specific exercise category is not only completely boring, but also completely unnecessary.
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