How to Create a Basic Exercise Program


Overview

Regular exercise is an essential component of maintaining good health. It is common knowledge that exercise can improve the function of our heart and skeletal muscles, but there are so many other reasons to get up and move, such as improving sleep and cognitive functions, helping to manage stress and anxiety, and reducing the risk of many chronic diseases. While most forms of physical activity are great, we should all be following a regular workout program that is a little more comprehensive than going for a quick walk around the block.

Why Follow an Exercise Program?

With a structured program we can set goals, increase our efficiency, evaluate our progress, and keep ourselves more accountable. Furthermore, if the program is well-designed, there is a much lower chance of creating (or furthering) muscle imbalances (eg. strong chest muscles with relatively weak upper back muscles), or neglecting things that are important, such as our core.

Basic Exercise Program Template

The following is a very basic exercise program template; it will not be very useful to high-performance athletes, or even to individuals who have a moderate amount of experience with proper training. However, it is a well-balanced plan that will work well for casual or beginner gym-goers. The plan is as follows:

  1. Warm-up: 5-10 minutes of light activity that will elevate heart rate and prepare the muscles for the rest of the workout
    1. Examples:
      1. “Cardio” machines, such as the treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, or stair-climber
      2. Dynamic stretching exercises, such as leg swing, squat to stand, knee to chest, thread the needle, open book/turn the page
  1. Core: 2 exercises that target the core muscles (generally speaking, the core includes the abdomen and lower back, or the area between the thorax and the pelvis)
    1. Examples:
      1. Beginner: leg slide, prone hip extension, knee side plank, knee plank
      2. Intermediate: plank, side plank, Pallof press, dead bug
      3. Advanced: plank with leg and/or arm lift, side plank and cable row, cable chop, cable lift
  1. Push: 1 exercise that targets the muscles that help with pushing movements (typically the pectorals, triceps, deltoids, etc.)
    1. Examples:
      1. Beginner: wall or knee push-up, standing cable chest press, standing cable fly
      2. Advanced: push-up, standing military press, bench press
  1. Pull: 1 exercise that targets the muscles that help with pulling movements (typically the biceps, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, etc.)
    1. Examples:
      1. Beginner: seated row, prone trapezius squeeze
      2. Advanced: kneeling lat pull-down, three-point or two-point row
  1. Hinge: 1 exercise that targets the muscles that help with movements primarily requiring bending at the hips (typically the hamstrings, gluteals, erector spinae, etc.)
    1. Examples:
      1. Beginner: bridge, hip thrust
      2. Advanced: Romanian deadlift, single-leg bridge, weighted hip thrust
  1. Squat: 1 exercise that targets the muscles that help with squatting or lunging movements (similar to hinge exercises, but with much greater emphasis on the quadriceps)
    1. Examples:
      1. Beginner: body squat, supported split squat
      2. Advanced: goblet squat, Bulgarian split squat, dumbbell forward and/or backward lunge, front squat
  1. Cool-down: 5-10 minutes of light exercises that will help with recovery and allow the heart rate to come back down
    1. Examples:
      1. Static stretching exercises, in which one or muscles are held in a lengthened position for a period of time, such as a prone quadriceps stretch or certain yoga poses
      2. Self-myofascial release, such as foam rolling or muscle release balls

How Frequently Should I Perform the Workout?

Once you have used the template to create a program for your current fitness level, you should ideally be going through it at least twice, but preferably three times per week. As a new or relatively casual user of the gym, you might find that performing the workout more frequently than three times per week can be overly fatiguing. Any less than twice per week is not enough to see any significant results in a reasonable amount of time.

One way to structure the program would be to attend on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only. This gives you a day of rest between workouts, and the entire weekend to yourself.

When Should I Change the Exercises?

Once you feel that any of the exercises are becoming too easy, or that you are losing interest in them, it is likely time to exchange them for something different and more challenging. This will depend on many factors that are specific to each individual, and so there is no magic time frame for when you should be moving on to something new.

Important: If you experience pain while working out, the exercise(s) you are performing are likely too challenging and/or you are not performing them correctly. This is a good sign that you should stop and re-evaluate whether or not you need to regress to an easier exercise, or if you need to ask a professional to help you improve your form.

References

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise-and-chronic-disease/art-20046049

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10783-metabolic-syndrome/prevention

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367/

Maintaining a Fitness Routine While on Holidays


No One Said It Would Be Easy…

While a handful of individuals may find it easy to squeeze in a few workouts while they are on holidays, for the rest of us it can be a rather challenging task. This is because exercise can feel a lot like work, and the last thing we want to do while taking time off from the weekly grind is more work. However, it is important that we don’t completely neglect our physical health in this setting, especially during extended holidays or if you are currently undergoing rehabilitation. Fortunately, I have some suggestions from personal experience that may help you prepare for your trip and find some success while you are away; I will break these into four points:

1) What Is the Nature of Your Holiday?

The first step in maintaining a fitness routine on holidays is establishing what type of holiday you are taking. This will give us a better idea of what type of fitness equipment you we readily have at your disposal, and what you may need to bring. We can separate holidays up into three different types:

  1. Staycation: If you are having a “staycation,” where you are taking time off work to relax in the comfort of your home, then this part will be easy! You can simply head to the nearest gym or use whatever equipment you already have at home. All you need now is to find the motivation to exercise!
  2. Vacation: I’ll define a vacation as a relaxing getaway; you are leaving the comfort of your own home to escape to the comfort of another place. For example, this could be the home of a family member or close friend, or even a resort in Mexico. In these situations, you may have access to a gym or someone else’s fitness equipment, but you will also likely need to bring a couple things of your own. It will probably be harder than a staycation to find the motivation to deliberately exercise, but it shouldn’t be too much harder to find the time.
  3. Travelling: I’ll define travelling as an adventurous holiday; you are going somewhere to explore and will be on the move more than you will be relaxing. Examples of this include the following: backpacking through several countries in Europe, biking around Iceland, or hitchhiking and couchsurfing around South America. This is the most difficult type of holiday to find time to go through an exercise routine (though you are likely getting some exercise in from the nature of the trip itself). You will have to find alternative ways to perform exercises, as you won’t have access to much workout equipment.

2) What Fitness Equipment Should You Bring?

Obviously this won’t apply to staycations, but for the other two types of holidays there is only so much fitness equipment you can fit into your luggage.

One of the lightest and most versatile items is a resistance band (or a series of them with varying levels of resistance). Resistance bands are essentially weightless and take up negligible amounts of space in your luggage, and they provide an endless amount of ways to challenge your body. This is an absolute must-carry for your holidays!

It’s also useful to carry something that you can use for self-myofascial release (i.e. self-massage). A foam roller would be far too large, but a small ball (tennis, lacrosse, RAD, etc.) and/or a hand-held massage stick are relatively compact options. However, if you had to choose between resistance bands or a self-massage option, the bands are far more valuable.

Last on the list is a fitness program – you need to have an idea of what exercises you are going to be doing before you leave for your trip. If you are currently undergoing rehabilitation or personal training you should request a routine that you can easily complete while you are away. A fitness program that utilizes bodyweight, cardiovascular training, and resistance bands would be a good start! However, if you are on your own and have no fitness professional to seek advice from, you could always search up some exercises and stretches online, or purchase a reliable fitness training book to take with you!

3) Finding the Time and Motivation to Exercise While on Holidays

The final step is actually setting time aside and motivating yourself to complete the exercises.

Finding time is the easier part – no matter how busy and intense your trip is, you will have at least a few minutes to spare to exercise. I would recommend doing them either first thing in the morning, or at the end of the day before you “unwind.” Of course, if you have a day where there is a big gap of nothing at some point, you could easily complete them then instead!

Finding motivation is the harder part – just remember that you got where you are now by putting in time and effort. There’s no sense taking two steps forward and one step backwards by completely abandoning your fitness program now. Enjoy your vacation, and even decrease the frequency and intensity of exercise, but work enough to maintain the progress that you have already built for yourself!

References

Personal experience!

What is a Sit-Stand Desk?


Definition

A sit-stand desk refers to a desk or desktop workstation that can be height-adjusted to allow the user to switch between standing or sitting positions at their will. These two formats are as follows:

  1. The full-sized sit-stand desk typically has the traditional rectangle-shaped desktop, which can be height-adjusted manually or electronically if it is motorized.
  2. A desktop workstation is an accessory that is placed on top of a regular desk and can be height-adjusted to lay flat on the desk allowing for seated use, or be raised to a point that allows the user to stand at the desk. These also come as either manual or motorized.

Why Switch to a Sit-Stand Desk?

The purpose of a sit-stand desk is to allow a more ergonomic approach to desk use, especially in a work environment where the user may be restricted to one for hours on end. Two significant changes a sit-stand desk may provide include the following:

  1. The simple freedom to quickly change between seated and standing postures can give the user a way to resist overusing certain muscles and underusing others. For example, in individuals who spend too much time sitting, the hamstrings and hip flexors are often tight, while the quadriceps and gluteals are often weak. The opposite tends to occur in those who spend too much time standing. Also, there is the notable tendency to start to round inward at the shoulders and hunch forward at the spine when seated at a computer for a long time.
  2. More calories are burned while standing than while sitting, as a standing posture requires more musculature to be used and is thus more metabolically demanding. In other words, it is a more “active” position.

Furthermore, there are many research studies that show positive correlations between stand-sit desks and improved health. This, along with the abundance of research that outlines the potentially negative implications of sedentary lifestyles (a prime example being one that includes a seated desk job), creates a very positive image of stand-sit desks! Much of this can likely be attributed to the two facts just listed above. The following is a list of the findings from some of these studies:

  • Using a standing desk may result in lower blood sugar levels
  • Sitting is associated with obesity and metabolic disease
  • Standing desks and sit-stand desks seem to help reduce pain in the neck, shoulders, and back
  • Sedentary lifestyles are associated with obesity, cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and neck pain, among other negative health issues

How Much is a Sit-Stand Desk?

The desktop workstations are generally cheaper than the full sit-stand desks, and typically range between $100-$300. For the full sit-stand desk, the adjustable frame alone can range between $250-$800, with even greater costs for those that include the desktop attachment.

Other Considerations

It is important to mention that transitioning to a stand-sit desk may not feel great at first, especially if you have been used to sitting at a desk for years. This is where you need to take advantage of the adjustable height; gradually increase your tolerance for standing until the body can adapt to the more physically demanding position.

As mentioned previously, an always-standing position is not necessarily the goal – it is good to vary the amount of time you spend in each position just like it is important to vary your diet, hobbies, and so on. This occasional change of position, as well as periodically taking microbreaks to do some quick stretches or exercises, may help to take the sedentary aspect out of a desk job to make it easier on your body and keep you healthier.

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-a-standing-desk#section3

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24297826

https://www.prevention.com/health/g20503004/benefits-of-standing-desk/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25599350

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15681386

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-b-trafecanty/the-benefits-and-consider_b_9996782.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23057991

Progressive Overload


What is Progressive Overload?

Progressive overload is the gradual increase in stress placed upon the body in the context of fitness training and physical rehabilitation. As the demands on the body are continuously advanced, it will adapt, quite specifically, to handle the increased load by becoming faster, stronger, more efficient, and so on.

Why is Progressive Overload Important?

The concept of progressive overload is important in avoiding a “plateau” in physical adaptations. A plateau occurs when the exercise stresses being placed on the body are not increased after several training sessions, and so the body no longer needs to adapt.

For example, if you were to perform ten repetitions (reps) of push-ups a day for three days per week, eventually they would become so easy that the muscles involved in the movement would stop increasing in size, strength and coordination, as they simply would not need to. In other words, the demand for adaptation is no longer present from the current stimulus, and so although your body will maintain the current level of fitness required for the exercise, it will not increase in strength, size, power, or endurance.

For those who are happy with their current level of fitness, progressive overload is less important. For everyone else, especially those who are undergoing active rehabilitation, it is a crucial component in reaching your goals.

How is Progressive Overload Applied?

To progressively overload an exercise, it needs to place a greater demand on the body in some way. The following is a list of many different methods that can be used to achieve this:

  • Increase the number of sets
  • Decrease the rest duration between sets
  • Increase the amount of resistance
    • Eg.  performing a bicep curl with 20lbs is more demanding than curling 15lbs
    • Biases increased muscular strength (the maximum force your muscles can produce) over other muscular adaptations
  • Increase the duration (if one is present)
    • Eg. performing a plank for 60 seconds is more demanding than planking for 30 seconds
    • Eg. running for 30 minutes is more demanding than running for 20 minutes
    • Biases increased muscular endurance (the ability of your muscles to resist fatigue) over other muscular adaptations
  • Increase the speed at which you complete the exercise
    • Eg. if you perform 10 repetitions of a squat in 15 seconds, it will be more demanding than if you completed the 10 repetitions in 30 seconds
    • Biases increased muscular power (the ability of your muscles to exert maximal force in the shortest possible amount of time) over other muscular adaptations
  • Advance the exercise to a more difficult variation, using one of more of the following:
    • Add a dynamic component
    • Combine with another exercise
    • Reduce the size of the base of support
    • Reduce the stability of the base of support
    • Increase the range of motion/change the angle of the body parts involved
  • Increase the frequency of training
  • Increase the number of exercises per training session

Depending on your fitness goals, you may also want to adjust the number of repetitions you are performing each set. Research on the optimal number of reps for a given muscular adaptation often varies. However, suggestions tend to fluctuate closely around the following ranges:

  • 6 reps biases muscular strength
  • 6-12 reps biases muscular hypertrophy (the size of your muscles)
  • >12 reps biases muscular endurance

This is not an exhaustive list of ways that you can progressively overload your workouts. However, it includes some important concepts that you should familiarize yourself with if you are to achieve the results you want, in terms of fitness training and physical rehabilitation.

Am I Exercising at the Correct Intensity?

Too Easy?

Once an exercise is no longer providing a physical challenge to your body, it is probably time to progress it. However, this progression should be gradual and consistent – focus on improving by small amounts at a time and choose progressions that make sense. It would be unwise sense to suddenly jump to hammer curling 40lb dumbbells once 15lb dumbbells have become too easy; advance in smaller increments, such as increasing from 15lbs to 20lbs, or increasing the number of sets from 2 to 3.

Too Hard?

Inability to maintain proper form can be a key indicator that you have chosen an exercise or progression that is too intense, and you should take a step back. Learning and maintaining ideal form is one of the most important concepts of exercising. It doesn’t matter if you are lifting weights at the gym for fitness, aesthetics, or physical rehabilitation, or if you are playing tennis, or even going for a jog outside – the importance of excellent form holds true in all these situations. So, if you find your body perturbating uncontrollably while trying to perform a core exercise, or you are activating additional muscle groups to compensate for a level of intensity that is far too high for you to perform correctly, it is time to tone it down a notch.

Pain is another indicator that you have attempted an exercise or progression that is not at your current level. This is especially important when undergoing active rehabilitation as it interferes with your ability to exercise effectively, in turn delaying progress in the program. Additionally, it can cause further aggravation to the injuries that you are attempting to recover from, leaving you feeling worse off than if you hadn’t chosen to exercise at all.

Examples of Progressive Overload

Level 1 – Wall push-up

Progression: N/A 

Level 2 – Incline push-up 

Progression: Changed angle 

Level 3 – Traditional push-up

Progression: Changed angle

Level 4 – Elevated push-up

Progression: Changed angle

Level 5A – Elevated push-up with leg lift

Progression: Decreased size of base of support

Level 5B – Elevated push-up with unstable support

Progression: Decreased stability in base of support

Other ways to progressively overload these six exercises:

  • Increase number of reps
  • Increase number of sets
  • Increase speed of each rep
  • Decrease rest duration between sets
  • Increase the range of motion/add a dynamic component (eg. “T push-up”)
  • Combine with another exercise (eg. add a jump squat to make it a “burpee”)

References

Uninsured Drivers


As drivers, we often assume that one part of driving a vehicle is having valid insurance. Unfortunately, not everyone who is driving on our streets feels the same way. Uninsured motorists are people operating motor vehicles without insurance, or with insurance that has lapsed or been cancelled.

A North American Problem

The research and statistics show that this is an issue across North America. Throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico, a percentage of drivers have no insurance (or no valid insurance). According to a senior Vice President at the Insurance Research Council (IRC), this situation, “….forces responsible drivers who carry insurance to bear the burden of paying for injuries caused by drivers who carry no insurance at all.”

In terms of having insurance, the purpose of uninsured motorist coverage is to provide financial protection for you as an insured driver if you get into an accident caused by an uninsured or even underinsured driver.

The United States

Car insurance is required to legally drive in 49 of the states within the United States.  According to the Insurance Reserch Council, in 2012, 12.6% of U.S. drivers had no vehicle insurance. Why do so many people choose to drive without insurance?

Reasons:

  • It’s too expensive
  • Could not afford it during the economic downturn
  • Some American states have very expensive insurance rates (e.g. Florida and New Jersey)
  • Some drivers were insured, and chose to let the policy lapse, instead of paying it

The IRC estimates the states with the highest percentages of uninsured motorists are: Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Florida.

The rules for uninsured motorist coverage, varies from state to state. Some states require that you have this coverage, added to your policy (such as Maryland and West Virginia), in some states you must purchase it (unless you decline it in writing), such as California and Texas. And some states require that this coverage is offered, even if you don’t purchase it – including Colorado and Delaware.

Canada – a gap in the data

While doing the research, it became clear that there is not one good source for information on uninsured drivers in Canada. Because Canada has the 10 provinces, the data collected seems to be on a province by province basis. For example, Newfoundland and Labrador would like to have a better system of keeping track of uninsured drivers – noted in a Canadian Underwriter article from December 2017. This issue runs across all provinces.

What about British Columbia?

If we look specifically at B.C., here is what the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) suggests. They recommend that you make sure that YOU have appropriate insurance coverage, rather than rely on the insurance coverage of other people.

When you purchase car insurance through ICBC that is basic coverage. But you can top up this coverage with other items – such as Extension Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP). This increases the coverage that you have, if the other driver is uninsured, or does not have enough insurance coverage.

Benefits of Underinsured Motorist Protection

The UMP coverage can help cover things like:

  • Medical costs
  • Rehabilitation
  • Lost wages

The coverage will cover you, the driver, but also any members of your household in the vehicle as well. Additional coverage is for you, or any members of your household that are injured as pedestrians or cyclists, or if any of you are injured in a vehicle, other than your own.

ICBC Notes

To make sure that you get ALL of the coverage listed above, you need to make sure that you have the UMP coverage for each vehicle in your household. You want to have all of your loved ones covered, in each vehicle you own.

ICBC suggests that you speak with your local Autoplan dealer. Getting the UMP coverage, can be that extra peace of mind – often for not that much extra expense.

When you go to purchase any kind of insurance, make sure that you weigh all the factors. The next time you are insuring a vehicle with ICBC, ask about the underinsured motorist protection. You can make the most informed decision for your vehicle, and for you and your family.

References

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Extension Underinsured Motorist Protection. http://www.icbc.com/autoplan/optional/Pages/underinsured-protection.aspx Copyright 2018.

NerdWallet, Inc. Understanding Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Insurance. July 20, 2017.https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/understanding-uninsured-motorist-property-damage-insurance/ 

Canadian Underwriter. Province looks for ways to keep track of uninsured drivers. December 18, 2017. https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/province-looks-ways-keep-track-uninsured-drivers-1004125273/

Buy Auto Insurance.com. Are You Safe on the Road?: the Benefits of Uninsured Motorist Coverage. 2013. http://www.buyautoinsurance.com/uninsured-motorists/

Moderation and How It Relates to a Healthy Lifestyle


What is Moderation?

Moderation can be defined as the avoidance of excess or extremes. There can be a lot of value in this single word when used in the context of health and well-being. This post will seek to explore various domains of health and how we might better ourselves by applying some degree of moderation to these areas of our lives.

Think about everything that you consumed or did yesterday. Did you eat a lot of high-fat foods, or was your diet mostly balanced? Did you spend hours in front of an electronic screen, or did you decide to do something active? Have you been drinking enough water? What about in the last week? Before reading further, I challenge you to pick apart the last week (or longer) and identify the most prominent things in your life that are going unchecked – that are not being moderated at all, but that you recognize maybe should be.

Moderating Nutrient Consumption

Understanding and “watching” what we eat is an important part of maintaining our health, and is critical in choosing what we should focus on moderating in our diet. While many of us know that over-eating foods loaded with fat, sugar, salt, and various artificial ingredients is not good for us, it is harder to put an actual number to how much we should allow in our diet.

The nutrition fact labels that are available on most packaged items in Canada are a good place to start in forming an understanding of the amounts of different nutrients we should be getting in our diet. For example, if an item says that it has 15 grams of fat per serving, it should say that it contains 23% of our “% daily value” on the label. In other words, if you consume a single serving of that food item, you have consumed 15 grams of the 65 grams for that day that are recommended for you to maintain a healthy diet. I encourage you to read the labels frequently before you buy and consume various items, so you can start to build an idea of what your diet is lacking in, and what is being consumed in excess that should be moderated.

Although the nutrition fact labels can be extremely useful, there are a few things to keep in mind with respect to them:

  • Pay attention to what is considered a serving size on the nutrition fact labels rather than making assumptions; some companies might list fives pieces or half of a single food item as a serving size, when a full package contains far more than this.
  • The percent daily values are created based on the recommended daily caloric intake of an average-sized individual; people who have much smaller or larger dimensions than average or who engage in lifestyles that may demand more of certain nutrients (eg. a woman who is 5’1” and who runs marathons, a man who is 6’5” and is a muscular body-builder) may need to adjust their daily caloric intake accordingly.
  • Some values on the nutrition fact labels are not a recommended daily intake, but rather a safety limit to avoid adverse health conditions. Sodium and cholesterol are two important examples of this. In other words, you should not be trying to meet the percent daily values for these items, as your body is able to thrive on far less.
  • Many foods and beverages do not contain nutrient fact labels, such as fresh produce and beverages containing greater than 0.5% alcohol content. Fresh produce is typically composed of mostly carbohydrates, with highly varying amounts of different vitamins and micronutrients. Alcohol is typically just “empty” calories, adding large amounts of calories to your diet but with negligible nutritional value. You will have to do some of your own research on other items.

Once you have created a habit of keeping track of what you are putting into your body, it becomes easier to moderate your diet. For example, if you find that you are consuming 150% of the daily recommended value of carbohydrates in packaged foods alone, and you haven’t even factored in the fresh produce you are consuming, maybe you are lacking in proteins and fats. In another scenario, maybe you are gaining weight steadily, but believe you are eating very healthy foods. After calculating your daily consumption, you find that your intake of carbohydrates and fats are both at 100% of the recommended values, but your intake of protein is at 150%. In this case, you are just over-eating protein-rich foods, and need to lower your total consumption of protein.

If you absolutely cannot be bothered by reading labels, at least remember to always include a variety of foods from all the different food groups in your diet, and change what you eat and drink from day-to-day.

Moderating Work

This section is dedicated to those who consider themselves or someone they know a “work-a-holic.” While it is certainly a good thing to have a solid work ethic, and to work a lot so we can pay our bills and save money, it is equally as important to have down time.

It is difficult to put a number on what is an excessive amount of work, especially since some people can handle a greater workload better than others, and every occupation varies in how cognitively and/or physically demanding it is. However, if you find that you rarely or never have the time to prepare proper meals, visit with friends and family, engage in some sort of leisurely activity, or even sleep a proper number of hours each night, it is possible that your workload is excessive. If you find yourself in this situation, attempt to moderate your work-life to make some room for other activities, as every person has a point in which they will eventually burn out, whether it be physically, mentally, or both. At the very least, take a vacation to somewhere relaxing once in a while!

Moderating Leisure

This leads us into another important area of health, which involves what we choose to do in our spare time, or our leisure time. Although it is okay to sit and enjoy television, play video games, and other sedentary activities at times, it is good to also have hobbies that are more active. This is especially true if you have a very sedentary occupation, such as an accountant or any other job that demands a lot of desk work. Now, you don’t have to think of active hobbies as being restricted to running or lifting weights. While some people enjoy these, activities such as hiking, skiing, tennis, or even maintaining a garden might be more appealing to others. The benefits of exercise are too valuable to not engage in any exercise in our leisure time.

The opposite may hold true for those who have a very high energy lifestyle. I can give a personal example of this: I know someone who works as a labourer six days per work, typically about ten hours each day, performing very intense physical work. On top of this, he goes to the gym twice every day of the week; on days where he is working, he will go for about two hours before work, and for about two hours after work. While he is a very strong, muscular individual, I can almost guarantee this will eventually lead to massive burn-out, similar to what I mentioned earlier when discussing work-a-holics. This is a less common case, in which I would consider recommending that this individual actually take some rest days here and there, where he can focus on a more sedentary hobby and allow his body to rest and recover.

How Does Moderation Relate to Injury Recovery and Rehabilitation?

As alluded to in the previous section, our body needs some down-time in order to adequately recover from trauma. Whether that is by lifting weights at the gym and causing small, deliberate tears to our muscles, or through an actual injury incurred from an accident while driving or playing sports, rest is mandatory for the body to make repairs.

Let’s use a practical example to make this clearer: imagine you have just been in a car accident, in which you were rear-ended hard enough to cause some notable damage to your body. Specifically, you have incurred soft tissue injuries to your neck and lower back. As you wait for your body to heal from these initial injuries, the pain cycle is already looping continuously and further exacerbating your pain, restricted range of motion, loss of function, and so on.

At this point, many people simply want their pain and injuries to be resolved, and so “more is better” might seem like a viable option when starting an active rehabilitation program. However, choosing to add more weight, perform more exercises, or work out more frequently than your body is ready for might actually do more harm than good. If you are increasing your pain and symptoms significantly due to active rehabilitation, there is a good chance you are overdoing it in some way. Leave yourself rest days in between workouts, and avoid exercises that cause an increase in your symptoms (sometimes this means just doing an easier variation or using less weight). In other words, listen to your body and consider moderating your program.

Moderation is Not a Rule

Although this can be a useful concept, it should be taken with a grain of salt at times rather than as some sacred, golden rule. For example, if you only drink water (and the rare glass of milk for vitamin D and calcium), this doesn’t mean that you should moderate your water consumption but starting to drink soft drinks and slurpees. Also, many of us might not have the option of moderating how much we work. Use it more as a loose guideline to help you make better choices at times, or to consider making some healthier modifications to your lifestyle. Think back to the activity from the beginning of the post, and see if you can use moderation to balance those things in your life that have gone without limitation in the past.

References

Definition – http://www.dictionary.com/browse/moderation

Percent Daily Values – https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/understanding-food-labels/percent-daily-value.html