Smutty Fitness: exercise rationing

October 8, 2015 15:32:20 Posted at October 8, 2015 15:32:20
Hayley Posted by Hayley
Bauer-Griffin/ Splash News

Hi Hayley,

I have potentially a very basic question for you in regards to what I'm calling "exercise rationing". I often read that you should work out a certain amount of times per week... but does this really matter if all your fitness is done in say, two days of the week as opposed to spreading it out? More specifically, if I do two separate fitness classes on Tuesdays (yoga and spinning) and one activity on the weekend (hiking, cross country skiing, etc.), am I getting the same type of benefits if I spread all that activity into 30 minute blocks each day in a gym visit?



Well, I had to rally the troops on this one to help me get my answer for you. I know that you are not getting the benefit in 2 days of exercise as you would if you were being more consistent with your fitness, but I wasn’t sure how to convey that message for you.

So here it is…

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week, plus two days of strength training per week. So, yes you are hitting the required physical activity amounts but you are slightly lacking in the strength training component of your routine (yoga does count for some strength training).

If your main concern is general overall physical health then I would have to say yes, according to the guidelines above you are getting what is recommended. However, there are SO MANY benefits to consistent, weekly exercise, both mentally and physically. I understand that you may not be able to get in an hour every other day or so, but even if you could find 30 minutes two more times a week to get your heart pumping, you not only are going to look better but your fitness is going to improve and your mental health as well. We all know how good we feel after a hard and challenging workout, right?

I am not going to get into the science behind this, but it is insane how quickly your body will lose what it has gained in just a few short days. Let’s say you have an amazing yoga class and hold a posture longer than you ever have but the next week when you do it again, it isn’t any easier nor can you push yourself harder. That is because too much time has passed between your workouts to make any gains. If you did even just one more class, so there were only three days between them, you may actually see faster improvements. Same goes with spinning, hiking, running, strength training. The more consistent you are with it, the more you will benefit. 

Also, it is not ideal to do more than one class in a day. Is it realistic to think that you are going to push yourself to your best over two hours of classes? You would benefit from doing your spin class one day with a bit of your own stretch afterwards and your yoga class on the other. So many people think they are benefiting more from doing two back to back classes, but in all honesty, you are wasting your time. There is no need to give yourself 100% for two hours. Not only is that too much to ask of your body but you are putting yourself at risk of injury (because of fatigue).

If you were one of my clients and you asked me this exact question my answer would be this: keep up with what you are doing because it is great, however move your yoga and spin to two separate days.  Also, add in two more 30 minute workouts somewhere in your week, making one an interval cardio workout combining high intense intervals with recovery intervals, and the other a 30 minute strength workout. Download a fitness app to your phone, my favourite being the Nike Training Club, and follow the program. It’s easy and can be done anywhere.

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