Canadian Living magazine recently contacted me with a couple of questions for an article for their blog, which can be found here: 5 Ways to Exercise Your Way to a Healthy Heart. I want to share with you the entire interview, as many of these tips are useful and helpful to my clients and readers. Enjoy!

workoutHow long should someone go to the gym for in a day if they are starting out?

When just starting out, it’s important that participants don’t take on more than they can handle. It’s better to commit to a reasonable and attainable goal, because the most important thing in the beginning in the interest of keeping it going, is remaining encouraged. 45 minutes is plenty of time for a full body strength circuit, including cardiovascular components.

How often should they go to the gym in a week?

I believe that 3 days / week is the magic number for easing into a new lifestyle and habit. 3 non consecutive days per week will keep the exercise and its benefits spread across the week in balance, will give the muscles and heart enough work to reap major benefits and results, and it’s not so daunting a commitment that one may become discouraged and give up altogether (often the case with a too-lofty intention of 5 days per week at the start, for instance). Remember, the goal is to keep progressing, no matter how slight a progression, rather than to aim too high and only to fall backward.

Does lifting weights and cardio keep your heart healthy and strong? How?

Including weight lifting and a cardiovascular component absolutely keeps the heart healthy and strong. The expression “if you don’t use it, you lose it” is very true here. When the heart is conditioned to hitting a higher rate on the regular, it will be better able to handle itself in a position where it might fly up (if you suddenly have to sprint after a dog on the loose, for example). Not only will the body experience less stress when the heart rate is higher, when it is conditioned, but it will also be able to reach its resting point much sooner, afterward. This means limited gasping for breath, and a return to a balanced state more readily. I advise building your strength training circuits with cardiovascular bursts, such as jumping jacks, jump rope or mountain climbers woven in between. This will keep the heart rate high and involved, providing a great challenge without having to log tons of time on a treadmill or elliptical.

Is overworking at the gym bad? Why?

Yes, overworking at the gym is bad. Again, it is better to start out a bit lighter and to continue to improve and incline as you move along, than it is to go too hard at an unsustainable level, drop the ball and become discouraged. Remaining encouraged is a very important psychological aspect of maintaining a habit or routine. Not only this, but the body is not meant to be abused in a gym. You are there to put in the good, and let the bad work itself out. Being too aggressive can leave you feeling depleted, or even injured. Check in with yourself frequently to ensure that you’re feeling energized, enthusiastic and restored, rather than like being dragged along behind your workout, so to speak. Remain safe, fresh and on top of it, and don’t let your focus drop or your form suffer so that you may always avoid injury.

Any questions? Don't hesitate to ask me. xx