I’ve just returned from a three-day fitness conference in Auckland. It’s always good to find out new information and have your own thoughts challenged. One particular speaker struck a chord with me when she said, “at different times of our lives we need to exercise differently.”

I want to expand on this and let you know my interpretation of what she said. Imagine for a minute that you have always been a runner, you’ve done it for years, perhaps every day. At some point along the way you may have had to stop as you became injured for example. You recovered and got back into running again right?

Imagine now you’ve just become pregnant, or just had a baby, or are highly stressed at work. Is running still appropriate, or the best option during these times?

Usually when pregnant you’d be advised to reduce the high impact and do pelvic floor safe exercise. If someone is stressed it would make sense to reduce the stressors (exercise is a stressor by the way) and look at lighter cardio and perhaps yoga or meditation.

Keep in tune with your body and look at some other exercise options that may suit you better for where you are in life right now. How is your body feeling in this moment?

  • Feeling tired – go for a walk followed by a stretch and a sleep.
  • Feeling overweight – try some cardio and maybe light weight training
  • Just had a baby – switch to low impact pelvic floor safe exercise.
  • Recently diagnosed diabetic – weight training and cardiovascular exercise.
  • Stressed – light cardio, meditation, relaxation.
  • Injured – rehab the affected area and look at what you can do exercise-wise with the healthier rest of your body.
  • Menopausal – cardio, weight training, pelvic floor exercise, and relaxation.
  • Sick of constant injury from sport – check in with a physio. Is this sport age-appropriate for you now? What do you need to do in order to stay in that sport and remain uninjured?

We need to constantly check in with the exercise we’re doing (or not doing) and look to change it up or alter it according to our age, stage, strength, flexibility, balance, injuries or mental and emotional state.

Think about Nancy who has run 2 days a week for years. She’s now 54. While she is very fit she hasn’t increased fitness or done another type of exercise. She has stayed with the same distance and the same route on every run. She’s strong in one area. Her mental health is good as she has regular release of endorphins. But, she’s now post-menopausal and feeling stressed from the extra pressures at work. Should she keep running?

I would suggest to Nancy to reduce the running, to add in some weight training and perhaps look at a relaxation activity to reduce the stress.

It’s important also to train the weakest link. It’s all very well to keep on doing the same old exercise but you will get the same old results. Ask a REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals) registered trainer to run an assessment on you and check out your weakest links and work on them for a while. Physiotherapists are great at this too. This is how we become more holistically fit, functionally fit with a body that is well balanced and fit in lots of areas.

If you’d like to find out more information on new exercise and whether it’s right for you, the REPs NZ website (www.reps.org.nz) has lots of information you can refer to.

So, keep on reviewing the way you’e exercising according to your needs. Every few months ask yourself, “is this the right exercise for me, right now?” Running, for example may have been something you used to do during one period of your life. Is it where you’re at now though? Tune in to how you’re feeling in this moment. Do the most appropriate exercise for you in the stage you’re at now.

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Lynda Lovatt is a qualified fitness exercise consultant with a special interest in pregnancy, post-natal fitness and promoting fitness for mums of older children. She delivers menopausal fitness classes and personal training sessions in Wellington. See her website for more about Lynda.

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