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Summer Exercise

Summertime in Boulder brings many happy opportunities to move one’s body and get some exercise. The mountains abound with opportunities for outdoor recreation such as hiking, biking and climbing in a beautiful scenic, peaceful environment. Perhaps it is no wonder that a men’s magazine recently voted Boulder women as some of the most beautiful in the country as we certainly love to get out there and get physical, and that usually translates into a healthier, more radiant look.

A Good Thing

The benefits of exercise are many. Regular moderate and appropriate exercise has been shown to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular illness. Evidence has also shown it is beneficial in preventing cancer, diabetes, depression, obesity, varicose veins, balancing hormones and improving bone density, improving fatigue and many other ailments. This is due to the fact that exercise oxygenates tissues, improves circulation, burns fat, relieves stress, and produces endorphins which are compounds secreted by the brain that cause a sense of well being, energy and vitality.

The positive effects of regular exercise for women are well documented. As women age, our basal metabolic rate slows down causing what is commonly known as “middle aged spread”. This of course also can effect men but is more pronounced in women. Regular exercise helps to mitigate that tendency. Also regular exercise helps to offset symptoms of PMS and may even be an effective adjunct treatment for endometriosis as well as reducing many menopausal symptoms.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Since we Boulder area women are in general so active, often what I see in my practice are effects of over exercising rather than under exercising. A young woman may exercise so much that she loses too much body fat, which may cause her menstrual periods to cease. This is seen in many female dancers and long distance runners, though it can happen to any woman whose body fat levels get too low. This may become a big problem later as it increases many fold her risk of developing osteoporosis , a debilitating disease.

Also I want to address possible symptoms of overtraining. If you are very active and a re finding that you have one or more of the following symptoms, you may be overtraining. The best remedy for you may be to back off the intensity of your workouts. These symptoms include repeated injuries that don’t seem to heal, fatigue, loss of the “lift” that exercise used to give you, longer recovery times, depression, and a feeling of “burnout” or lack of motivation. As mentioned above, a loss of regular menstrual cycles may be indicative of overtaining. One may also need to look into correcting poor dietary habits as a deficient diet or hydration combined with high intensity workouts also may contribute to overtraining syndrome.

Choosing the Appropriate Workout

Finding the best exercise for your body type and personality may also require a bit of trial and error as there is no set formula that works for everyone. One may want to employ a personal trainer if one can afford it if one is new to exercise. I have found Peter D’Adamo N.D.’s books “ Eat Right For Your Type” ,etc. valuable in guiding my patients to a form of exercise that may work well for them, but there is no hard and fast rule. Much depends upon your psychological make up and the goals you hope to attain. Various goals may be to los weight, have more energy, increase flexibility, develop strength, relieve stress, get out into nature, and/or to improve competitive performance. There are so many options here in Boulder that another whole article entirely could be written about them.

Instead I’ll write about my two personal favorite ways to exercise. I first discovered yoga when I lived in the Pacific Northwest. It was amazing to me how opening up different areas of my body had such a profound effect upon my state of being and my psyche. When I came to Boulder I discovered Ashtanga Yoga at Richard Freeman’s studio on 21st Street. I was hooked pretty quickly as it combines the vigorous workout I craved and found with running ( but running was too hard on my joints) with the flow of dance and the qualities of breath work and meditation which I’d also been exploring concurrently. I find a I get older with the practice, I get more fit and can sink deeper and more easily into meditation. I see that yoga is something I can continue as I get even older. There are women who are long term practitioners at that studio who are a good 10+ years older than myself doing a very advanced practice. They are an inspiration to me. I have also continued my yoga practice through my pregnancy ( with modifications, of course) which at the time of this writing is 34 weeks along.

Hiking in nature is my other love. I love getting into the mountains and quieting my mind and getting closer to the plants , animals and wildlife while enjoying a good workout. My husband and I love to bring the dogs, our son and soon our new baby for a healthy family experience and some fresh air. Weeks may go by when we don’t get a good hike in, and once we do, we are reminded why we live here and not in, say, Ohio. And we inevitably say “That was great! We should do this every weekend!”

Enjoy your summer, and if you are able, get out and get active! Blessings.