Restorative exercise is SO important. The first thing I want to do is dive into the WHY!
You see, I think many of us look at exercise as something that we need to do for healthy living, heart health, cardiovascular health and to lose weight. We also see it as an aggressive and intense movement that we are probably going to hate doing. I get that. I see it all around us and I have felt that way too. But, here’s the thing – exercise and movement BOTH have a place in our lives and I think they actually can, should, and NEED to look different than this!
The way that we are exercising might actually be working against us on our journey instead of for us. So, it's important for us to understand a few things:
- Exercise and movement can impact our hunger, energy, and cravings and the type of exercise we do can impact how much we eat and what we choose to eat later.
- Exercise is neither healthy nor weight loss friendly if it causes you to crave and eat too much of the wrong foods later.
- Long hours spent running or jogging or cycling or boot camping can prompt those kinds of hunger and craving reactions. For a lot of people running or jogging or LONG workouts are alluring because it FEELS like we are working toward weight loss. But, if we are constantly fighting our hunger and cravings after a long run we are fighting a losing battle.
I want you to understand that exercise is not just about calories burned, it’s about hormones, too. How exercise impacts our hormonal chemistry during a workout will affect our hunger, energy, and cravings after the workout. Exercise that is longer and more intense will usually increase hunger and cravings shortly after the workout is complete. This certainly is not true for all people but for many it is.
Part of our detective work is figuring out which exercise works best for us. So, observe closely if you are negatively impacted by exercising this way.
This is where restorative exercise comes in! If we are going to exercise for a long period of time...slow, relaxing movement is really our best choice. Very low intensity exercise tends to have a little impact on hunger and cravings and may actually decrease cravings since it has such a nice impact on lowering stress hormones. Walking, which really qualifies more as movement than exercise should be a dominant form of activity in your life. You really can’t do too much slow and relaxing walking!
Notice the terms slow and relaxing.
Power walking is not the same as leisure walking and leisure walking is what is most beneficial in lowering cortisol. The best way to condition a de-conditioned body or start when exercise hasn't been something that is part of your life yet – is not exercise – it’s walking! It’s a mistake to go from couch potato to cross fit. That's just one stressful condition to another. The better approach is to start walking first.
Walking conditions the body to be conditioned. It also does not ramp up hunger and cravings the way exercise can in some people. Rather than the "eat less and exercise more" approach, this is better described as eating less and exercising less while MOVING MORE.
Here is some food for thought: Often we feel that calories are all that matters. But how many calories does sleep have? How many calories does stress have? What about walks in the woods? Walks on the beach? Walks in your neighborhood? Or how about connection? Sex? Massages? Naps? And Community? Wait, does meditation have calories? What about hobbies?
None of these things have calories but, they have positive benefits on stress and hunger hormones. The metabolism is not simply a calorie counting calculator. It is also a complex thermostat that senses and responds to stress. Anything that lowers the metabolic stress burden is not just beneficial for health but also helps regulate calorie intake via hormonal influences.
There are two things required for sustained fat loss:
- A calorie deficit
- Hormonal balance that allows you to sustain that calorie deficit.
The most important consideration for exercise may not be how many calories are burned but how it impacts your hunger energy and cravings. And this is why restorative exercise, restorative activities, and rest based living is a BASIC and so important in our program.
Practice "rest-based living” with these ideas:
- Building restorative and relaxing practices into your life
- Quiet time
- Nap time
- Hot baths
- Physical affection
- Time with loved ones
Practice incorporating restorative movement/exercise with these ideas:
- Leisure walking -- not power-walking
- Nature walks
- Tai chi
- Restorative yoga
Let me leave you with this last tid-bit of information.Get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Sleep is a hormonal reset button for your body. It lowers cortisol and balances ghrelin and leptin, which means less hunger, balanced energy, and decreased cravings the next day. Does sleep count??? Umm sleep is the NUMBER ONE restorative activity! If you don't have your sleep in order, don't even worry about yoga, stretching, or reading a book -- goooo to bed or go take a nap!
You can learn more eye-opening tips and useful information in the Real Strong Coaching Club -- join HERE: melanielund.com/joinclub