Harmony through Exercise: How to Achieve Holistic Balance

by on January 19th, 2011 at 7:00 am

“Wholesome exercise in the free air, under the wide sky, is the best medicine for body and spirit.” – Sarah Louise Arnold

Our bodies are somewhat like machines, and similar to cars, they need ‘fuel’ (food) and regular ‘driving’ (activity) to keep from seizing up. As a car engine would suffer going full throttle ahead, so the human body needs moderate and gentle regular exercise. This can be obtained through the recommended amount of moderate exercise per week.

Besides helping keep your weight under control, exercise is also a great natural stress reliever! Health professionals recommend moderate aerobic exercise for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. This could be a gentle walk through the neighborhood or a leisurely swim in the pool.

So how do you know if you’re exercising moderately? If you can comfortably hold a conversation while exercising, without huffing and puffing, you’re at the correct level of moderate pace. Another good indication of fitness levels is your heart rate.

There are three factors when monitoring heart rate during exercise:
1. Resting heart rate
2. Maximum heart rate
3. Target heart rate

1. To calculate your resting heart rate, count the number of beats per minute first thing in the morning after a good night’s sleep (before you get out of bed). The average heart rate for a person at rest is 60 – 80 beats per minute. It is usually lower for people who are physically fit, and tends to rise as we age.

2. To calculate maximum heart rate per minute, subtract your age from 220. Example: if you are 45yrs, you would calculate your maximum heart rate as follows: 220 – 45= 175.

3. Target heart rate is 50 – 75% of your maximum heart rate. You should measure your pulse off and on while you exercise to make sure you stay within this range. After about 6 months of regular exercise, you may be able to increase your target heart rate to 85% (but only if you can comfortably do so).

Note: Certain heart medications may lower your maximum and target heart rates. Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Swimmers should use a heart rate target of 75% of the maximum and then subtract 12 beats per minute. The reason for this is that swimming will not raise the heart rate quite as much as other sports because of the so-called “diving reflex,” which causes the heart to slow down automatically when the body is immersed in water.

Tips for optimizing your workouts:

  • Avoid eating 2 hours prior to exercise.
  • Drink plenty of fluids during and after working out.
  • Get going! You can incorporate exercise anytime. Walk, bike or jog when going somewhere and climb stairs instead of taking an escalator.
  • Do activities that you enjoy: walk with a friend or walk your dog.
  • Always start with warm-ups to get the muscles going and finish with a cool down program. Gentle stretches, lunges and light running on the spot can help. To cool down, you should walk slowly until the heart rate is 10 – 15 beats above your resting heart rate.

Natural support for enhancing your exercise routine:

Many herbs and ingredients found in nature can help to create a firm basis for exercise. There are natural ingredients that can naturally support healthy energy levels, and give an added edge – such as Eleutherococcus senticosis.

Natural herbs come without the harmful side effects that conventional energy boosters often cause (such as faster heart rate, lightheadedness). There are also natural remedies out there that can be used post-exercise to aid any injuries in a gentle, safe manner. These can be used preventatively as well, to help prevent superficial strains and tears.

4 Responses to “Harmony through Exercise: How to Achieve Holistic Balance”

  1. Ashley

    Jan 19th, 2011

    Thanks for the tips on how to calculate heart rate. I also like how you offered the reminder that exercise can (and should!) be incorporated more into daily living and done anywhere, anytime – not just scheduled in as ‘gym time’. I’ll try and remember that the next time I want to skip the stairs :)

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