Exercise – ‘Consistency’ before ‘Quality’?
I am the first to be an advocate of intensity as an important driver of success with exercise. Current research shows that achieving ‘quality’ in your exercise sessions provides a greater array of health benefits compared with exercising at lower intensities and I’ve presented evidence on this in previous blog entries.
However the fact is that exercising at high intensity is hard work. It requires a certain level of ‘head space’ and requires a higher level of motivation than lower intensity exercise to make yourself ‘hurt’. My personal experience has made me realise that my motivation for high intensity exercise is largely impacted by how much else is going on in my life. ‘Load’ or stress provided by work issues, home life and any other parts of my life make it more challenging on some weeks than others to really push myself and in fact trying to work at maximal intensity on these weeks often leaves me feeling frustrated at my inability to do so!
My solution? I aim to complete 60% of my scheduled exercise sessions at high intensity with the remainder completed at a more moderate pace. On weeks where I have a ‘head full of junk’, I make the choice to moderate the high intensity sessions and place greater emphasis on just getting my scheduled sessions completed which helps me to clear my head and still maintain my fitness without impacting my weekly routine.
In summary, establish your weekly exercise routine and give highest priority to getting it done consistently. Aim to include at least a couple of sessions of high intensity in your week to maximise outcomes but be prepared to moderate this on weeks where the ‘load’ is increased in other areas of your life.