Running got me through shelter in place. Not only was running a great way to complete the stress cycle, it was one thing that felt normal. Even once the restrictions were lifted, I kept up running three or four days a week. Not only have I noticed that running made me feel better physically and mentally, I’ve also been challenged by my new role as Medical Fitness Director for Sharlin Health and Neurology to rethink how cardio fits into a workout plan for the body and the brain.
Do I need to do cardio to be healthy?
I’ve always said weights first. Partly because you can get your heart rate up when you do complex movements like squats and push ups and partly because people often rely too much on cardio for weight loss. I’ve soon too many women suffering from muscle loss and a damaged metabolism from endless cardio, restrictive dieting and a lack of strength training. Seeing those side effects along with my own passion for weight training put strength training first with cardio coming in a distant second place.
But the more I learn about the brain and exercise as medicine, as well as my own cardio conversion, the more I am rethinking the exercise prescription.
While strength training is still a very important part of my personal workout plan as well as the programs I write for others, cardio is no longer last on the list. The science on brain health is clear – you need cardio.
Telling my clients that I’m closing Thrive Personal Fitness and embarking on my medical fitness journey wasn’t easy. My goal was to get out the facts, which at the time were few, and make the transition a positive one for everyone.
Despite my best intentions to reassure everyone that this is transition is a very good thing, the most important thing got lost in the delivery. After sharing my news and letting them process, some of my clients panicked. They thought they were losing me! Thye wanted to know if I was still going to be providing personal training services.
Of course, I’m still offering personal training services! Developing plans based on physical activity for brain health is a natural extension of what I already do. And I am thrilled to have them (and you) along for the ride if it makes sense. Almost anyone can benefit from a program based on physical activity for brain health. We all need to take care of our brains, especially those of us in midlife. The brain is an organ after all. It needs good blood flow and nourishment to flourish. Functional fitness and focused cardio is the foundation for a neurofitness program.
My Word for the Year for 2020 was Fearless.
I knew I would need courage and grit to do go after the bold goals I set for 2020. I knew I was on the verge of a pivot. But who could have imagined the sharp plot twist our collective narrative was about to take?
You can learn anything from a book. But when it comes to racial justice, reading the book isn’t enough. You have to act. Here’s your Be a Better Human summer reading program.
With time to think and be, you’re finding a new understanding of what matter most and a place of deep health.
It’s time to reboot with a new focus for your post pandemic lifestyle.
Between homeschooling mornings and life admin afternoons, there is very little white space left on the schedule for you. And even if could find an hour and if the gym was open you’re not sure you are want to go. Any “me time” these days is found in 10- or 15-minute chunks. You need simple micro workouts to stay healthy at home. Here’s my list of micro workouts for every day.
Who doesn’t love a taco? It doesn’t have to be Cinco De Mayo or Taco Tuesday for a simple taco to bring a smile to your face. The taco love is not a one-way street. Those tacos love you back. Tacos are a healthy food just as they are – no special ingredients required. Here are three things that make tacos healthy and delicious.
Your mind is saying you need to move.
Your body prefers to curl with tea and a book after spending the day online checking in with your team, your students and your email.
Before the pandemic, knowing you had someone waiting on you for your workout got you to the gym. Sometimes you didn’t want to go but you always left energized and glad you showed up.
Now, working from home and trying to work out at home aren’t working so well together. You can’t seem to make the same magic with the workout you used to do, clipped from a long forgotten favorite magazine, after a long day at the desk. Even if you do manage to get moving the intensity and energy boost just isn’t the same alone in your garage.
This is not a moral failing on your part. Your response to this new physical distancing environment is completely normal. You are not lazy. You’re just missing three vital factors: meaning, connection and accountability.
There is a certain amount of irony that April is Stress Awareness Month. In the middle of the COVID 19 pandemic, when we’re all being asked to shelter in place till at least the end of April, someone has to remind us to be aware of stress.
Many of us are feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, even if we’re not ready to admit it. Change always brings a certain amount of fear. We’re hard-wired to notice a change in the environment, assess it, determine the threat level and be ready for flight or fight. Relaxing is an afterthought; once we see everything return to normal we can be at rest.
Except normal isn’t coming back any time soon. Even once the shelter in place order is lifted, our work and home lives will feel the impact for some time to come. That’s why solid stress management strategies are crucial right now.
The last time my week started off this chaotic was the day I dub Black Tuesday. It was March 2009 and I worked for Bank of America. I got a call from my boss that started with "you still have a job but...". I have no exact number for the people laid off that week from...