It seems like the latest and greatest fitness trends are almost always geared towards the simple motto – faster, better, stronger. From ultra-marathons and HIIT workouts to boot camps and CrossFit, fitness trends that raise the bar with higher intensity workouts are at an all-time high. The pressure to get the most from your ClassPass has everyone partaking in extreme workouts practically every day. While the success we feel from these workouts fuels our need for achievement, they can also be presenting drawbacks that we may not realize.
We live in an achievement-based world that, for most of us, gauges how much we think of ourselves. Juggling our calendars to fit in as many meetings a day as we can, as many social appearances as we can, carpooling the kids to as many activities as we can, while squeezing in as many rigorous workouts as we can, we are non-stop. We tend to use our productivity during our waking hours as indication of who we are as people.
Pushing ourselves to be more productive is a great tool to navigate our success and how we feel overall, but the downside is the overwhelming feeling we get when we push ourselves too much. When we are maxing out our work goals, home goals and fitness goals, it can be an overload of stress that does more damage to our bodies than good. While we can’t always control the tempo of our work and home life, we can control our fitness routine and what benefits it gives us. The key is finding balance.
Balancing a high-intensity lifestyle with low-intensity workouts is all about revitalizing our body through mindfulness that, in turn, benefits everything that we do. It will actually increase your ability to be more productive. You will find yourself sleeping better at night, feeling less stressed, having a better sense of clarity in day-to-day decisions and even make you feel stronger. Basically, less is more.
Why Less Is More
When you give your body the chance to slow down, a couple of things happen. First, you are limiting the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) your body is releasing and increasing the amount of serotonin (calming hormone) it is putting out. This is what causes you to feel less stress and more clarity. Cortisol plays a large role in our health that we may not realize. When our day is filled with constant problem solving, cortisol is being released to help us power through. It acts like a buffer enabling our bodies to operate at a higher pace without overloading.
However, if you are starting or following up your day with a high-intensity workout, you are releasing even more cortisol that can push your body’s stress response too far. This constant cortisol production leads to major long term health ailments such as hypothyroidism which is linked to causing depression, weight gain and digestive problems. Not to mention, it also causes problems for existing stressors such as gut imbalances, adrenal fatigue and autoimmune disease.
Second, when you switch to low-intensity workouts you are opening up your body to better communicate what it actually needs. A lot of the time we get mixed messages from our bodies that we interpret as needing one thing but really needing something else. This helps to add a better sense of awareness for what truly do need. When you are more in tuned with yourself this way, it becomes much easier to pinpoint what your body may be lacking or craving. Ultimately, it will become easier to make better, healthier choices daily.
Low-Intensity Workouts To Try
If you are not sure where to start when switching to low-intensity workouts we have a few suggestions.
Walking is great because it is simple and can be done anywhere. Instead of taking your load off by zoning out through a high-intensity class, replace it with walking and allow yourself to decompress to a soothing scenery.
Make more time for yourself to do yoga. Practicing mindfulness in slower motions really allows your body to learn better control of your muscles to make them stronger. Not to mention that more meditation in your day will only strengthen your emotional, mental and physical bond.
Tai Chi teaches you the fundamentals of natural movement that does wonders for balance, posture and total body alignment. You will feel taller, leaner and have more confidence that will carry over into your everyday life. It’s perfect for those who feel anxious or irritable and crave the feeling of total relaxation.
Hiking is perfect for getting the blood pumping while keeping you close to nature. To keep it low-intensity, choose a trail that is low terrain and a pace that is comfortable. Take in all the beauty that is around you and let your mind unwind with the fresh air.
When it comes to what works best for your body, it really is a personal choice. If constant high-intensity workouts give you what you need, by all means keep doing what works. But if you feel that you need a change of pace, try limiting your high-intensity routines to 1-2 times a week while incorporating some low-intensity workouts in their place.
As always, we love hearing from you! Tell us what some of your favorite low-intensity workouts are and how they have helped improved your health.
The Blendtopia Team