How Much Exercise Do You Need?

(And Why Yoga & Walking Are Usually Enough..)

When I first started practising Yoga consistently, more than 25 years ago, I was also a total gym junkie and had been since I was 17. 

Certainly, I never, ever thought I’d give the gym up!

As time went on though, I was getting so much from my twice weekly Yoga practise that I really wanted to focus more on it. 

Basically, I’d never slept so well or felt so relaxed! The IBS that had plagued me for years went away and I felt much stronger physically.

But after years of the gym, I couldn’t help the gnawing thought that if I wasn’t jumping up and down and huffing and puffing, could it really be enough?

Like lots of other exercise and body image warriors, I thought that if I wasn’t doing huffy puffy exercise, there was a possibility, I’d end up unfit and overweight!

Anyway, the sky didn’t fall down, the seas didn’t run dry and nothing bad happened! 

My worry was unfounded and this is why:

Firstly, even though I was as stuck on the idea as anyone else, the fact is, you really have to do an immense amount of exercise in order to lose weight without actually eating less or changing your diet.

We’re talking Olympic swimmers exercising for five hours a day. 

Most of us have an hour or two at the most so unless we are running (not jogging!) for that entire hour, it’s basically one or two Tim Tams.

Secondly, even though for some reason we’ve ended up calling it “cardio”, fast-paced exercise is aerobics. Cardio-vascular however, is all about the health of your heart and circulatory system and you don’t need to jump up and down or run to ensure that you have it.

Cardio fitness is when you have a lower heart rate with great circulatory flow and can do more movement and exercise but yet with quiet, more relaxed (nostril) breathing. 

After 20 years or so of just sticking to Yoga and walking and exercise / movement that feels a bit gentler on my nervous system, my weight hasn’t changed at all, but I do believe my cardio-vascular health and fitness has improved.

 If anything, when I first gave up the gym, I lost weight and diminished many food cravings meaning I really didn’t want to eat as much (this is generally due to the slower breathing). 

So, yes, I concur that walking, especially in nature, with or without a friend, is most definitely enough, but add a bit of movement-based Yoga and it’s perfect.

What do you think?  

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