How hard should I work

MANY of us know that exercise is very important when it comes to improving our health and losing weight.

But did you know that there are two types of exercise?

Work-out exercises

These increase your heart rate and cause breathlessness. These movements challenge your body, which responds by improving its capacity to perform.

For example, when we go for a brisk walk, our body thinks “if we’re going to be doing this a lot we’re going to have to get stronger”, so the body gets fitter and stronger to cope with the demand.

Work-in exercises

These are gentle movements that do not raise the heart rate much or get you breathless.

Because they do not increase the heart rate they do not create an energy deficit yet because they improve blood flow and fill the body with oxygen they actually give you energy!

Examples could be yoga type exercises, a gentle walk, or stretching.

Many times we are told that to gain anything from exercise we have to work out until we are sweating buckets and crawling on our hands and knees!


How hard to Work

But is this the case? Let’s consider the following: When the batteries in the TV remote start to run out, have you ever just pressed harder instead of replacing them? (I’m guilty of that one).

It may work for a while, but over time no matter how hard you press there’s just nothing left. With the stresses and strains we put on our bodies these days, sometimes putting ourselves through a strenuous exercise session may not be as beneficial as we think.

So, how do we know which type is best for us?

Imagine a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 meaning you feel absolutely ecstatic, energetic, happy, full of life and 0 being the complete opposite!

Ask yourself where you are on this scale, and then ask yourself where you think you would be after either a work-in session or a work-out session.

For example, if you are at level 4 and you feel like you’ve been working hard lately, you feel tired, you’ve had a stressful day, and a work-out session (strenuous exercise) would make you feel worse, taking you down to a level 3 or even 2, then a work-in session could be more appropriate.

On the other hand, if you are at level 4 and you feel you have been a bit lazy over the last couple of days and that a few work-out exercises would make you feel better afterwards, taking you up to a level 5 or 6, then that may be the best thing to do.

It is all about listening to your body and seeing, feeling and learning how your body reacts to different types of movements at different times so your batteries are always fully charged.

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Today we’ve talked about how to know what exercise is best for you at any particular time. Once you learn how to do this and develop your own mixture of the two types, this will give you the benefits of both (improved ability to perform daily tasks, more energy etc) without the drawbacks (constantly tired, feeling down, weight gain etc)!

Here are a few more examples of work-in and work-out movements, have a read through then add examples of your own!

Work-out movements:


Brisk walking / jogging/ Cycling

Resistance/circuit training

Going up and down the stairs

Work-in movements:

Deep slow breathing (diaphragmatically)

Slow walking

Stretching / yoga

Breathing with gentle arm movements

For a couple of great examples of work out sessions read:

To construct a work-in session you have a couple of options:

– You can attend a yoga class

– Go for a gentle walk ideally in your favourite relaxing environment

– Ask a knowledgeable friend or ideally a good trainer to show you a few stretches and perform them one after the other, holding each one for about five deep slow breaths

The more we move the better the results we get. Depending on how fast you want results we should aim to get in around four sessions of activity each week. If you’re feeling absolutely knackered one week, all four of these sessions could be work-in sessions, or if you’re feeling good all four sessions could be high intensity work-out sessions. A mix of the two is ideal. The point I’m trying to make is that no matter how you feel there are types of movement that can benefit you!

And remember, as with all these tips don’t worry about it if you don’t do it perfectly first time. Take your time and enjoy yourself, knowing that these steps will improve your health, make you more efficient on your journey, get the result you want and allow you to do the things you’ve always wanted to do!

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