I’m stuck at a small regional airport doing what most people do. Laptop out, cell on charge and a cup of poor coffee. I always base myself at a gate where the last flight is long-departed or the next flight will not be going for a few hours. This allows me space and quiet. I watch the people passing by, balding red-faced guy with a hard hat and deep voice, handsome African-American man in a blue checked shirt and a well-trimmed beard, man running as he’s probably late for his flight, sad person pushing an empty wheelchair and a woman wearing a white golf visor! That was in a space of about thirty seconds. We are all different – but do not do enough for ourselves to benefit from these differences. Let’s start with exercise.
I turned up at my hotel gym this morning – there was a middle-aged guy on a stationary bike, cycling gently and reading the paper. We engaged in small talk and then I got on with my regime and he continued his ‘cycling.’ I’m happy to bet, that at some stage today, the guy will tell someone about his early morning workout in the gym. Such was the intensity, he would have used up more calories walking around the hotel car-park. I must stress at this stage, that any exercise is better than nothing but I think too many people watch others, read the wrong books or are taken through generic routines by personal trainers.
People need to consider – why am I exercising? If I had asked the gentleman in the gym this morning, I am pretty sure he would have been about keeping on top of his weight. His morning ‘tour’ would have made little impression. The body quickly adjusts to the same exercise every day so that it starts to have little impact. But, like many people he is probably thinking – exercise uses calories, you lose weight. This was reinforced by the ‘bike’ he was on telling him that his forty-five minutes cycling had lost him three hundred calories. That number would then be exceeded by the hotel breakfast!
Let’s go back to my original question – why do we want to exercise? To lose weight, build muscle, train for a particular sport, feel good etc, etc? All commendable but all requiring different kinds of exercise. If I am a rugby forward at the weekends my time in the gym will be different to the tennis player wanting to sharpen up for the club’s mixed-doubles competition. If I want to build muscle, which often results in putting on weight, my work-out needs to be different to the individual who feels they are carrying a little too much around the middle. Unfortunately, I cannot provide individualised programs for everyone but we can all undertake some self-evaluations before deciding what we need to do. We are not all natural cardiovascular machines. Some of us are built like racing snakes while others are tall and big-boned. If you genuinely just want to keep fit and reasonably lithe try high intensity exercises, regularly but over short periods of time. Find out what works for you. Some people who start a running regime actually put on weight and remember, professional cyclists who participate on the many tours around the world cycle hundreds of miles a week and for hours and hours. Find out, what is right for you and remember exercise needs to be aligned to diet, rest, work and many other factors – we’ll come on to those!