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    Don’t Hesitate to ‘Course Correct’ Your Exercise Program

    By Cinder Ernst–

    Did you happen to start or re-start an exercise program as the calendar turned? If yes, you might be rolling along easily and enjoying the exercise you chose. If so, you chose wisely—bravo! Or, you might be struggling. If you are struggling, no worries. You simply have to course correct.

    You might have bit off more than you can chew. Biting off more than you can chew is so common that we have this “more than you can chew” saying. You’re in good company. The experience of struggle is feedback for you. There’s nothing wrong. A course correction is merely called for.

    Your exercise program can (and probably ought to) be adaptable as you go. The following are some parameters to consider when designing your exercise program. I will relate each parameter to how I am adapting my new yoga practice to be just right for me. Maybe these adaptations will inspire a good feeling path for you. 

    I have recently started doing yoga. Yoga feels like a last resort to me because arthritis makes the sport I love, boxing, inaccessible to me right now. I chose hot yoga because I thought the intensity would please me and the heat would soothe my joints. As I began, I did quite a bit of course correcting within the following three areas.

    Frequency

    Exercise frequency most commonly refers to the number of days each week that you are exercising. When I began hot yoga, I did what I usually do … too much. I thought, “Oh, it feels so good to sweat that I’ll do hot yoga every day like when I was in my boxing heyday.” I quickly found out that every day was not good for my body or my schedule. I am now doing three or four times a week. I still go through a bit of mind chatter about doing more, but I know it’s just chatter. Three or four times a week suits me right now.

    Many of you will be thinking that you need to do more. Or, you might have started out trying to do too much. Relax, and back it off a bit. See how you and your body feel. There’s no hurry. Be nice to yourself as you figure it out. Let your body and your lifestyle guide your decisions. 

    Intensity

    Intensity often refers to the actual effort you exert into the exercise itself. For instance, running is a higher intensity than walking. You can adjust your intensity to suit where you are today. In yoga, I can tell right away how much effort I should exert to be successful. If I go in with pain (common), I don’t push hard. I try to be smooth and to pay attention. Too much intensity will make me hurt worse and will defeat my purpose. I give myself credit for showing up and then take it from there. Here’s a favorite sentence that I say to myself: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you ought to.” I am usually taking it down a notch.

    Duration

    Duration refers to the actual length of time that you spend in your exercise practice for the day. My classes are 90 minutes. That is a big-time commitment for some, but I find it reasonable. On the other hand, I observe that most of my clients don’t have that kind of time when they are starting out. I always have people begin with a small step and a little bit of time and build from there.

    Relax about fitness and take the feedback your body and your life are giving you. If you are struggling, try an adjustment and see how it goes. Be easy and let yourself and your body off the hook.

    Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Her book, “Easy Fitness for the Reluctant Exerciser” (http://cinderernst.com/easy-fitness-book/), is available in paperback and eBook. She specializes in fitness and rehab for plus-size clients, but her stress-free approach is suitable for all. Find out more at http://cinderernst.com