Adrien Cotton, MASTER Menopause NOW!

Get Fit Faster: 3 Exercise Myths You Need to Stop Believing

We are surrounded by the mindset that the MORE and HARDER we work, the more successful we will be. This thinking transcends the work realm and reaches into the fitness (and food) world, with a belief that intense HIIT workouts, boot camp-style gyms, and grueling national chain challenges push participants past their ability. Add the popularized ultra-marathons, where participants run from fifty to one hundred miles, and it would seem extreme exercise is the only way to “fitness.”

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As the owner of a boutique gym and a midlife women’s wellness expert, I’m here to say that none of this is true! I’m also here to share that there is no one-size-fits-all fitness program (or nutrition plan). A solid fitness program isn’t measured by how many miles we run nor how many calories we burn with each sweat session. It’s about consistency. It’s about showing up each week for our self-care. It’s about scheduling our needs first.

Here are three exercise myths that are just that…myths.

1) Hour-long workouts have science behind them.

There is no real evidence that an hour is the magic amount of time for a fitness session. Yet, the majority of gym goers report they aim for the magic “one hour” on their workout or class. Structured exercise classes became popular in the 1980s, thanks in large part to Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda.

Fitness isn’t about spending massive amounts of time at the gym, but instead finding the right time in our day when we consistently show up. There is ample evidence that consistency throughout the day is the key driver to a robust fitness program.

There are many ways to fit exercise into our day without the stress of the hour-long workout. You could try a 10-minute yoga session or 15-minute brisk walk in the morning before getting ready for work, take 10 to 15 minutes at lunchtime for a walk around the block, break for a 5-minute flow to give yourself a burst of energy in the middle of the afternoon, and add 15 minutes of bodyweight training in your home or office gym at the end of the day. You can also do quick add-ins, like 10 push ups before noon, 20 squats before 3pm, and one plank before dinner. By adding movement throughout the day, you’re giving your body the activity it needs in more manageable periods of time.

Yoga

You could also explore online fitness programs that have ready-to-go workout sessions of varying lengths. These programs offer the flexibility of doing a quick workout anywhere–whether in a park, a nearby track, or in the comfort of your living room. For example, I meet virtually each week with women to offer individualized fitness training and support for symptoms of menopause and perimenopause with virtual Small Group Concierge Wellness sessions.

The key, as I said before, is consistently scheduling our needs first. If the goal is to exercise for 120 minutes each week, build a schedule you can achieve on a regular basis.

2) High-intensity cardio is the best way to lose weight.

Nope…and nope! If I had a dollar for every person who says cardio is the only way to lose weight–well, let’s just say I’d be spending my days lounging on a beach in California right now. What is often missed in the fitness industry game is that it is never just one type of exercise or that fitness craze that is the secret to losing and maintaining our weight. Instead, it is taking advantage of a variety of exercises that provide overall wellness and functional fitness. Strength training is just as important as cardiovascular exercise, particularly in midlife. The more we build our muscle, the more our muscle pulls on our bones and encourages bone regeneration. This can be especially important as we lose bone density and flexibility during perimenopause and menopause.

Plank

And the stronger we are, the more likely we will improve our balance and stamina. Preventing the risk of falls as we age is super important. Strength training will also help with the creaky, stiff joints we notice as we approach midlife. For those of us with achy knees and hips, it can mean the difference between being sedentary or maintaining an active lifestyle as we age.

And let’s not forget about the importance of maintaining flexibility during midlife. While stretching won’t efficiently burn calories, it will improve blood flow to our muscles and increase the range of motion in our joints. Having pliable muscles and joints will lower our risk for injury and give us the range of motion we need to show up for ourselves.

3) Exercise can fix a bad diet.

I’m not one to pass on an occasional treat, and I am not going to praise the importance of a perfect diet. Sometimes that just-out-of-the-oven-ooey-gooey-warm chocolate chip cookie is the salve we need after a long week. However, exercising excessively to make up for that charcuterie and wine outing does not make for a solid wellness plan.

The thinking that our weekends spent binging on barbecue and beers can be remedied during our Monday morning treadmill workout is false. Instead, it brings us back to our starting point and leads us on a perpetual cycle of never progressing toward our goals. Over time that stagnancy can leave us feeling hopeless.

By all means, savor that once-in-a-while treat. That is some of the good stuff in life. In my Concierge program we dive deep into the psychology of eating and how to shift our food mindset from one that rewards to one that fuels. It’s not easy.

I am in the best shape of my life in my late-fifties, and it’s because I am persistent with my food and fitness goals. Consistency is where it’s at. While I enjoy Sunday brunch with my family (and my delicious chocolate chip cookies), I make sure the bulk of my food budget is spent on food that fuels me.

Often in the overprocessed range that is our food landscape, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that it is basic, whole foods that are the best for us. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and simple cooked-at-home protein without all the fanfare are what propel us through our days without sacrificing our fitness goals. Optimally, food and fitness work in tandem with one another and provide opportunities to enjoy that ooey-gooey cookie…with the slightly melted chocolate chips…and the warm buttery center with the crispy outer edges…with each bite melting in your mouth. Yeah, that!

I would love the opportunity to show you how to build consistency in your exercise and nutrition plans and share the importance of creating a schedule that suits your needs through my programs, Concierge Small Group Wellness and MASTER Menopause NOW! In each, I share tools on how to step away from overdoing and instead find ways to show up for yourself.

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