I run at a small park near my house on the days I don’t go to Crossfit. I love that park because it’s small and quiet. I was running at the park one day and I kept crossing paths with a middle aged lady.
Every time I saw her she looked at me weird. I kept wondering if my shirt was inside out or maybe I had gum in my hair. I must have crossed paths with her 3 times and she would not stop starring. She would even turn her head to look at me when I passed by.
On my last lap around the park I was walking to cool down. There she was…again. Staring at me. So she waved at me to call my attention. I was thinking…. Oh… I must know her. So she walked up to me and said, “Can I ask you a few things?” She said she had seen me at the park several times. She said, “It seems like you work out a lot and you look fit.”
She told me that two months ago her doctor had told her that she had type II diabetes. The doctor told her that she was overweight and that she needed to start working out. He didn’t really guide her in any direction as far as diet and exercise went. He was basically saying you have diabetes, so get healthy!
She had no idea where to begin. She didn’t know what kind of exercise to do or what to eat. So she decided to walk at the park every day after work. She was walking for half an hour every day. And after a month, she had lost 20 pounds. Then she started to walk every day for one or two hours. After two months she had lost almost 50 pounds.
So her question to me was, “Am I doing this whole working out thing, right?”
I barely knew her, but I was so proud of her. She wasn’t given any guidance as far as what to do, but she took initiative and decided to get healthy on her own. She found the nearest park and just started walking. She wanted to make sure she was working out correctly and didn’t want to injure herself.
So here is the advice I gave her. According to the National Academy of Sports Medince, your workout should include three phases:
1. The Warm-up Phase
2. Conditioning Phase
3. Cool-Down Phase
The warm-up includes:
The warm-up phase prepares the body for what is to come in the conditioning phase.
I started off by showing her a few stretches for her legs since those are the muscle groups that are important for walking. I showed her a hamstring stretch, calf stretch, and hip flexor stretch. Here is a good website for walking stretches.
During the warm-up you increase your heart rate and respiration rate, this prepares you to exercise. I told the lady to begin with the stretches and then walk slowly for 5-10 minutes. If you are running, then you can warm-up by lightly jogging.
I could blog for years about this phase. There are many different kinds of training. Circuit training, resistance training, kickboxing, zumba, crossfit, etc. Every one finds there own niche. In this lady’s case she had found love in walking. She said she enjoyed it and loved the results she was seeing.
The only advice I gave her here was not overtrain. Overtraining occurs when some one performs excessive amounts of exercise without proper rest or recovery. I told her to be careful with walking one or two hours at a time. Overexertion can lead to fatigue and fatigue can lead to injury. Her body needed rest. I told her she could split up her walking into two sessions. Maybe 30 minutes and then rest for ten minutes and then continue with 3o more minutes. If her body was in pain she needed to stop, rest, and recover.
The cool-down stage includes:
1. Cardio (to decrease heart rate)
The cool-down phase allows you to decrease your heart rate/respiration rate and bring your body back to a steady state.
If you think about it, during exercise your body goes through a lot of changes. Your heart is pounding, your sweaty, out of breath and if you stop exercising all of sudden your body doesn’t know what to do. You need to increase your heart rate and breathing, slowly. That’s why it’s good to walk (or jog) at a slower speed to allow your body to go back to a steady state, slowly.
You can follow the Cardio with some stretches. You can stretch all those muscles you should put through some strenuous exercise. I told the lady at the park she could do the same exercises she warmed up with to keep it simple.
I taught that lady everything I could in ten minutes. She was so excited. I told her she was awesome and I admired her hard work and dedication. She was persistent and motivated to get healthy. I hope her story inspires you as much as it inspired me.