Feeling overwhelmed and struggling to find the time and energy to stick with your usual workout routine? This is the blog for you.
I understand that life can be hectic and that it can feel like there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. But I want to reassure you that when it comes to maintaining the fitness level you’ve worked so hard for - even a little bit of physical activity can make a big difference when you’re in a time crunch.
A recent paper published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the minimum amount of exercise needed to preserve aerobic fitness, muscle size, and strength in an 8-32 week time frame. Here's what they found:
To maintain aerobic endurance, intensity (exercising heart rate) is key. You can achieve this with as little as 2 workouts per week or by reducing the duration of each workout by 33-66%. So if you typically do a 40-minute cardio workout, cutting down to just 13-26 minutes can still provide benefits.
For strength and muscle size, intensity is again the key factor. These fitness markers can be maintained with just 1 strength training session per week and 1 set per exercise as long as the intensity is maintained or increased. This is true for both younger adults (ages 20-35) and older adults (ages 60-75). For the latter group, training twice a week and doing 2-3 sets of each exercise can help maintain muscle size.
It's important to note that these recommendations are based on research with mostly general populations and did not focus on the minimal dose of exercise needed to maintain body weight, body composition, health status, or other physiological adaptations like bone mineral density and insulin sensitivity. As always, it's a good idea to consult with a qualified healthcare or fitness professional before making any changes to your routine. They can help you determine the right frequency, volume, and intensity balance for your specific needs and goals.
But the most important thing is to stay active and consistent. Every little bit of physical activity positively impacts your health and well-being. So don't let a busy schedule or other challenges hold you back from maintaining the fitness level you've worked so hard to achieve. Keep moving, stay motivated, and you'll be on your way to feeling your best.
Updated: Feb 5
If you've ever taken one of my fitness classes or trained with me, you may have noticed that I don't wear traditional sneakers. Instead, I've been rocking Vibram FiveFingers since their launch in 2005. These minimalist shoes were designed by Robert Fliri with the goal of "moving around in nature better."
You might wonder if barefoot training or minimalist footwear is right for you. According to Dr. Emily Splichal, the answer is yes. Barefoot training can improve overall foot health and mobility, as the muscles in the feet can become weaker if they are not exercised regularly. To strengthen these muscles, Dr. Splichal recommends walking barefoot, stretching or using trigger point release techniques, and standing on golf balls or her Naboso Neuroball.
Minimalist shoes like Vibram Five Fingers have brought attention to the importance of foot health, but they are still different from being completely barefoot. Dr. Splichal does not recommend barefoot running as a foot-strengthening exercise but does suggest incorporating barefoot training and other foot-strengthening techniques for both beginner and advanced runners.
Barefoot training can also improve your lifting performance, as a recent study found that barefoot deadlifting can lead to improved performance due to the reduced distance the bar has to travel, allowing for more force to be generated. However, it's important to note that barefoot lifting is not allowed in most commercial gyms or competitive powerlifting due to safety concerns.
When it comes to weightlifting, it's important to consider how much weight you're lifting. According to Dr. Splichal, going barefoot should be fine if you're lifting a percentage of your body weight, but when you're lifting significantly more than you weigh, you may put too much strain on your feet. She suggests starting with warmup sets barefoot and switching to shoes for heavier sets.
It's also important to consider your body weight when it comes to any jumping activities. Impact forces on the feet can range from 1-1.5 times body weight while walking, 3-4 times body weight while running, and 10 times body weight or more for more ballistic activities like jumping or high-velocity landings.
Ultimately, it's up to each individual to determine what works best for them and their body. While some may prefer the comfort and support of shoes, others may find that the stability and efficiency of bare feet are the way to go. If you want to try barefoot training, start slowly and see how it feels.
To learn more, check out this interview with Dr. Splichal where she discusses all that you need to know to get started with barefoot training. She also has a great YouTube channel and Instagram (@thefunctionalfootdoc) where you can learn even more about foot health and foot strengthening exercises.
I also recommend Naboso products like the Neuroball and Training Mat. For 10% off, use my code: LAMB.
Need a break from screens? One simple yet impactful resolution you can make for the new year is establishing a regular reading routine, particularly with physical books. Not only do physical books provide a more immersive and different reading experience, but they also offer the added bonus of forcing you to unplug to focus on just one thing. Reading a physical book allows you to step away from the constant notifications and distractions of screens and fully engage in the world of the book.
Research has shown that reading physical books has numerous cognitive benefits that can improve our mental and emotional well-being. It can increase empathy, mental flexibility, rationality, creativity, and brain function. Reading physical books can also improve our understanding and comprehension of material and may even reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, increasing our longevity. Plus, it can be a great stress-buster and aid in relaxation, especially before bed.
The new year is the perfect time to establish a regular reading routine, and there are numerous benefits to reading physical books. Not only do they provide a more immersive and different reading experience, but they also allow you to unplug and focus on just one thing. Reading physical books allows you to step away from the constant notifications and distractions of screens and fully engage in the story.
But it's not just about the experience – research has shown that reading books has numerous cognitive benefits that can improve our mental and emotional well-being. It can increase empathy, mental flexibility, rationality, creativity, and brain function. Reading can also improve our understanding and comprehension of material and may even reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, increasing our longevity. Plus, it can be a great stress-buster and aid in relaxation, especially before bed.
As a fitness professional, I know that the key to establishing a new habit is to plan, start small, and let momentum take over. Instead of focusing on the end goal of reading a certain number of books by the end of the year, I'm going to focus on enjoying the experience.
Here's my plan to establish a new reading routine of physical books:
Start small: I'm going to aim for one book per month. This might not seem like much, but reading something unrelated to health, fitness, or personal development is a big deal for me.
Set aside dedicated reading time: I'm going to set aside a specific time each day or week to read, likely before bed, as part of my wind-down routine.
Mix things up: I have a short stack of 5 books to start with and a shelf of others to dive into later in the year. To keep things interesting, I'm going to mix things up and read a combination of nonfiction and fiction. The most important thing is to choose books that interest me and challenge me.
Ironically those 3 things I listed can apply to people wanting to develop a new fitness habit!
When it comes to fitness, setting unrealistic goals or trying to do too much too soon can lead to burnout or injury. By starting small and gradually increasing your activity level, you're more likely to stick with your new fitness routine and make it a sustainable part of your lifestyle.
Setting aside time to work out is another key to establishing a new fitness habit. By carving out a specific time in your schedule to prioritize your fitness, you're more likely to stick with it, whether first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or after work. Choosing a consistent workout time can help you make it a regular part of your routine.
Choosing something interesting and challenging is also important when it comes to establishing new fitness habits. If you enjoy the activity you're doing; you're more likely to stick with it. And by choosing activities that challenge you, you'll see progress and improvement over time, which can be motivating and rewarding.
In conclusion, establishing a regular reading routine with physical books is a simple yet impactful resolution to make for the new year. It allows you to unplug from screens, fully engage in the world of the book, and experience numerous cognitive benefits that can improve your mental and emotional well-being. To make this new habit sustainable, it's important to start small, set aside dedicated reading time, and mix things up by choosing books that interest and challenge you.
These same principles can also be applied to developing new fitness habits. By starting small, setting aside dedicated time, and choosing activities that interest and challenge you, you can establish a sustainable and enjoyable fitness routine.