Quality vs Quantity
The key to quality exercise for good health is not measured by how long you workout but by the quality of the exercise that you actually do. Our mindset is programmed to think that someone who jogs for 1 hour gets a better workout than someone who does a 20 minute workout. However, a 20 minute workout that incorporates high intensity, multi-level exercise, with proper recovery and stretching can provide just as much or more.
Diversity and Intensity
Functional exercises involve training the body for the activities performed in daily life. These include exercises like squats, planks, lunges, knee lifts, jumping jacks and sit ups. These incorporate the diversity and give you the dimensional training that your body needs. When you exercise in multiple planes, (frontwards and backwards, side-to-side, and rotational) it allows you to target muscles from all angles so that you don’t develop imbalances. Imbalances can promote injury. This also adds efficiency to your workout by allowing high intensity interval training thus cutting down on time needed to complete your workout.
Recovery and Stretching
Recovery time is as important as the actual workout itself. High intensity workouts absolutely require recovery time. As your intensity increases, you typically need to decrease the frequency of your workout to ensure your body has time to repair and recuperate between sessions. For this reason, it is NOT recommended to do high intensity exercises more than three times a week. Over-exercising can sabotage your fitness efforts. In the case of over exercising, your body will go into an elevated stress response mode which keeps your cortisol levels elevated. Cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone,” is secreted by your adrenal glands and is involved in regulating your insulin, glucose levels, and controlling inflammation. Elevated cortisol will cause your body to store fat instead of building muscle. For this reason it is important to listen to your body and get the important rest that is needed to recover.
It is also important to not overlook the importance of stretching at the beginning and end of each workout. Stretching works with your body’s natural physiological makeup to improve circulation and increase the elasticity of muscle joints. Stretching also allows your body to repair itself and prepare for activity.