Basics of Exercise and Staying in Shape Over the Holidays

via Jeremiah Johnson:

If you begin a program and stick to it, then with discipline and work, you’ll see the results in no time.

Now is a good time to reassess yourself in terms of physical fitness and where you are. You have about a month and a half to get into good habits (if you haven’t already done so) before the usual load of body-emulsifying fats of the holidays are pumped in your direction.

If you are just beginning and can begin at least a three-day program for yourself during the week, all the better. Let’s start with the basics: What do you want for yourself? Are you looking to trim fat, or is that not a problem? Do you want size and muscle mass? Do you want to be toned and lean?

Endurance Training and Strength Training

  1. Aerobic/Endurance Training: This type of exercise is meant to develop the cardiovascular (heart), respiratory (lungs), and metabolic (digestion, absorption, and excretion) systems. Aerobic training helps you to control weight. The following (non-exhaustive) list outlines aerobic training activities: walking, jogging, running, swimming, bicycling, and aerobics (in the form of exercises, dance, or a combination). Sports that are aerobic in nature that develop endurance of those three systems mentioned are tennis, basketball, long-distance races/competitions, and triathlons, the latter being the pinnacle of endurance tests.
  2. Strength Training: This is also called Resistance training, and it amounts to weight training or lifting weights. Now, the AMA (American Medical Association) standard for Resistance Training is to find out your 1RM (one rep maximum) for a weightlifting exercise. Then take ½ of this and attempt to perform the exercise for 10 repetitions. Sounds pretty canned, and it is: keep in mind it is a basic concept that you can use as a starting point. Strength training is not without its cardiovascular benefits, however; it’s just that the development is different. Firstly, the exercises are not as prolonged, and secondly, the goal is to build muscle mass and strength. In strength training, you form a basis for sports that are dependent upon increased muscle mass and capacity to do work in short bursts with periods of rest in between exertions. Football, wrestling, boxing, and weightlifting (in competition) are examples of sports depending on strength training.


Now let’s mention H.I.I.T. (I typed it that way so it wouldn’t bunch up with “I” side by side twice). High Intensity Interval Training is what the acronym stands for. This means to do an aerobic type exercise at a breakneck pace, to its maximum…for a specified period, usually 10 to 20 minutes with rest in between sets. This gives you the aerobic conditioning you need without the detriment of producing cortisol (we have covered this in other articles) that causes catabolism of muscle tissue and the breakdown of such to provide glycogen and therefore glucose, a process referred to in the layman’s tongue as cannibalism.

H.I.I.T. cycles can be two minutes of jogging in place furiously, and then a minute to rest for a set…all of this for ten to twenty minutes. Other exercises can be sprints, brisk walking, push-ups, jumping jacks, and so forth. It is designed to work the cardiovascular system without detracting from the strength-training regimen you’re pursuing. Believe it or not, it falls in line with our physical makeup. Human beings were designed to give quick bursts of speed and strength for short periods of time, akin to the lion or cheetah in their charges toward game.

Whatever you choose (aerobic or strength) for your regimen, there can be some overlap. The most important thing: understand the physiology behind all of it, and how your physiological responses to training (as a human being) work. We just outlined the two main categories: aerobic/endurance, and strength/resistance. There are other factors that are just as important as the discipline you intend to pursue.


Diet is critical, and hand-in-hand with diet is recovery (recovery time) after you’ve performed the work of your regimen. Meditation: I can’t stress it enough in its importance, is a tool that will help you for the rest of your life if you use it wisely. You need to rest your mind as well as your body. All of these actions promote balance, and balance promotes good follow through. Search the archives: I’ve written articles on all three subjects. Don’t forget good quality supplements to make up for the lack of nutrients or the need for additional nutrients in your diet.

Lastly is how you perceive yourself and how you follow after your goals. People who are “can-do” often have much success in developing and maintaining a discipline for physical training and conditioning. Bottom line here: If you think you can, then you can, and if you act on this, then you will. It is as simple as that. Identify what goals you have for yourself – to train for aerobics or train for strength, and how you intend to accomplish the goals.

If you begin a program and stick to it, then with discipline and work, you’ll see the results in no time. This is better for your life, your work, for your survival in a disaster, and for your own perception of yourself when you look in the mirror. This beats all of the holiday festivities, which, when they’re concluded and the fanfare is over…the 30 metric tons of wrapping paper thrown away and everyone has headed back to their own cave…the only one who is still around is looking back at you in the mirror. Have something to show for it that lasts longer than a few months, and increase the quality of your life and your lifespan.  JJ out!



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