On The Detox Diva we tend to focus on balancing the body through whole foods nutrition and judicious use of supplements. I am a holistic nutritionist first and foremost, dealing with all things adrenal, thyroid, hormonal, digestive and immune related. It is too easy for me to “forget” I am also a certified health coach in favor of handling the “tough” cases where I can see quick results with nutrition plans and some well placed supplements. I don’t, often enough, address the importance of physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Over the last few sessions with clients I started to realize that I needed to talk about my views on physical activity. As it happens, in my inbox just yesterday, a woman wrote me and asked me my views on exercise and what I recommend for certain conditions or even in general.
Dear Detox Diva::
I have been reading your blog for awhile now and I love the information you provide. I go on many other blogs as well and notice that you don’t talk much about how much time or what kind of exercise we should do. I know you talk a lot about nutrition but I am wondering if you can tell me why you don’t encourage more exercise and, if you do believe in exercise, what kind of exercise you think is the best?
Thanks so much for sharing your views on The Detox Diva and your question about the value I put on physical activity. To put it simply, getting off the sofa or out of the office chair and moving is one of the most important activities you can do to affect a positive change in your health.
Where I go off the rails is trying to convince a woman who can’t stand the idea of a treadmill or an eliptical trainer to join a gym and stick with a program when I know very well it will be a waste of her time and of my energy. The fact of the matter is, all the pictures of buff 20 year old girls with 6 pack abs in the world instructing them to “just do it” is not going to inspire a woman who is not eager to become a gym bunny to suddenly transform herself into Denise Austen! It’s not realistic.
When I work with a client, I ask them what kind of exercise they like to do. Some will surprise me when they say they LOVE the gym or running. I myself love ballet, yoga, pilates and my new obsession anything by Tracey Anderson (because as much of an evil cow as I think she truly is with her movements, they DO work), but I loathe gyms and I just don’t run. I also run a business, a blog, and take care of a growing family so I don’t have the time or will to invest in getting into my car and driving to one just to be a “hamster on a wheel”. That’s just me.
Mor often than not, I meet women who hate the idea of “exercise”. Eve more to the point, many of my clients are suffering from hormonal imbalance, autoimmune illnesses or adrenal fatigue where high impact or excessive exercise can actually exacerbate chronic inflammation which can increase symptoms. Though exercise is still important, gentle, non-impact exercises like yoga or gentle stretching and walking is far better than jogging or even Zumba.
I lived much of my life in both Asia and Europe and, though gyms exist, women didn’t use them much. Instead, both cultures incorporated physical activity into their daily lives. Women walk everywhere. In fact, many of them walk several kilometers a day just in the course of going about their days. In Seoul, Tokyo, Paris and London, women climbed up and down the steps to the Subway stations several times a day. (I lost 17 pounds off my already thin early 20′s frame once I moved to Seoul in the first 2 months I was there simply because I moved more!!)
French women intuitively know how to incorporate stretching in their day to day lives whether it is bending at the waist for each of their children’s toys or standing on their tip toes as they brush their teeth. Many women will, once they reach 40, add a few “calisthenic” weight bearing exercises to keep their bone mass and muscle tone but it is more as part of a routine rather than three hours out of their day. I learned to make sure I don’t sit around for very long from those incredible women who stay supple and slim long into their “golden years”.
For those unlucky enough not to live in “walking cities” I give this advice. Find something that gets you off your sofa that you love and do it. Maybe it’s a walk outside with your dog or kids. Perhaps a game of “tag” or football in the evenings. If you love (and live near) the mountains, hiking is a fabulous exercise. Putting on some music and dancing around your house for an hour can work off a ton of calories and boost endorphins at the same time. Giving you house a good clean (if you are anyone other than me who might like that kind of thing….) kills two birds with one stone incorporating physical activity in your daily life and gives your house a good uncluttering too, helping detox your life. Whether it’s a yoga class, a workout DVD or just a romp with the kids, making sure you exercise need not be about organized fitness so long as it is some form of movement that helps preserve bone density, decreases or stabilizes body fat, and increases muscle tone which makes you look better and feel better.
One of my favorite activities I do recommend is having a mini-trampoline or “rebounder” in your home. Something you can do while watching TV, it is a fun way to build up cardiovascular fitness, tone up the entire body, and burn calories in 30 minutes a day! You can even do it several times a day a few minutes at a time!
Find something you love and, on a regular basis, go do it!!!0