Ester Marsh: Don’t do too much too soon

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 3, 2022

Exercise is great, but watch out that you don’t do too much, too fast, too soon.

I have been very happy that so many people are still exercising or continue their regular exercise schedule. In the past, we’ve seen a decrease in attendance or great fluctuation at the start of the holiday season, but so far we are off to a great last part of the year! I do see some who go all out to “catch up” what they have lost over the last few years. So be careful, it’s not worth getting into your workout schedule too hard or too much and end up with an injury that sets you back again.

Whether it’s running, swimming, biking, group exercise classes or lifting weights, we all need recovery days. If you keep pushing yourself and do not rest, you set yourself up for a chance to get injured. Instead of feeling fresh and revived, you feel fatigued and fidgety, and you may even experience insomnia or restless sleep.

How about loss of appetite? I know you are thinking that’s good, but it’s not. Always remember that you need to eat to lose fat. Your body works so much better when you give it the nutrients it needs.

Overtraining and not giving your body enough rest decreases your performance. So instead of getting stronger, faster and feeling better, you feel like you are working harder for less results. Overtraining can also affect your mood. A positive side effect of exercise is feeling good about yourself and lifting your mood. Overtraining has the opposite effect.

What should you do? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends all healthy adults should participate in moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for 150 minutes throughout the week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity throughout the week. And for strength training they recommend a minimum of two days with at least 48 hours in between workouts one set of 8-12 reps and 10-15 reps for beginners or older population. If you feel you need to keep doing something on your “rest” days, light stretches or gentle yoga is perfect and I recommend it. A great rule of thumb is to start easy and go up about 10 percent per week. Going a lot, long and hard will not get you in shape faster. I always ask people, “How long have you been inactive” and/or “how long did it take you to gain this weight?” It will take you a “minute” to get back to it. Be kind to your body and your body will thank you. Balance your workouts, feed your spirituality and share kindness and respect, especially now in these crazy times.

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA.