I was honored to be interviewed by womenshealth.gov last month about how to help women make behavior changes that last. They also asked me to debunk a common exercise myth.
We’ve been wrongly taught that exercising at high intensities is the “best” way to exercise.
There is a growing body of research showing that all physical movement counts, even lower level activities like gardening and walking.
High intensity level exercise prescriptions are often focused on improving cardiovascular health. Yet, if we don’t like what high intensity exercise feels like, we likely won’t continue.
Regular physical activity offers many more benefits than just helping our heart. Lifted mood and better mental health are just two of many other benefits – but they are very important ones – especially for women.
There is actually research showing that higher intensity exercise worsens mood in midlife women. Other research has shown that lower intensity physical activity, compared to higher intensity activity, resulted in better mood and mental health in women, but not men.
It is important that we give ourselves permission to move in ways that both feel good and work for us – this is a key ingredient to staying motivated. And we can enjoy life more when we live it on our terms not those prescribed by others.
Walking at a pace that feels good is a great way to exercise. But, most types of movement contribute to being healthier and happier. So, look for as many opportunities to move as you can in your daily life. Then notice as your level increases whether you feel differently – more energy? better mood? etc.
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