Scott Heffner is a personal trainer and muscle activation specialist in Kansas City. He started sports when he was four years old and continued to play through junior high and high school. He began weight training when he was 15 years old and continued through his college years. He learned more about exercise and weight training and nutrition as he worked to improve. When he was in graduate school, friends suggested that he become a personal trainer. After taking a few classes, he decided that was the right path for him. He earned a certificate in personal training and began working as a personal trainer in 2001.
One of the things Scott talks about with his clients is the way our lives have changed so that we move less and less. We can see that this is true if we look at some of the big changes, like many of us work in offices and in front of computers all day instead of working as farmers plowing fields all day. But Scott points out that it is also true in little changes. We used to have to move our whole arm to roll down the windows in our cars, but now we just push a button. And we used to move our thumbs rapidly when we texted, but now we often just speak into the phone.
Scott’s point, in looking at these changes, is to overcome the belief that we have to do a long and intense exercise session or it doesn’t count as exercise. Many of us have the feeling that if we can’t get to the gym for an entire hour, then it’s not worth doing anything.
That’s not true. Instead, the main question for us to focus on is “What can I do to advance my physical state?” Scott says we should ask ourselves that question and then do the thing that we think of. And if we do that throughout the day, it will help us. New research is showing that exercising for 10 minutes multiple times a day is more beneficial than exercising for an hour once a day. It has benefits for our hearts and arteries, for blood pressure, and for endurance.
Scott also reminds us, “A lot of things can be done outside of the gym, or outside of any place that they are exercising. People have probably heard parking farther away from a store and just getting in steps that way. They can do things like taking the stairs instead of elevators or the escalator. Get out when it’s nice. Instead of driving their car, ride their bike, or go for a jog or something like that. In any of these instances a little bit is better than nothing. And it all adds up over time as well. So as long as their body can handle it without experiencing pain then they can put it in there and get things going.”
I also recommend taking a long walk outside as a way to get in exercise. You can even fit it in at work by holding a walking meeting. There are a lot of ways to fit in movement during the day, like jumping rope, doing jumping jacks, sit-ups, or yoga poses, or dancing to a song you love.
Scott has seen the benefit of focusing on movement throughout his day in his own personal experience. As we mentioned before, he began weight lifting when he was 15 years old. In his early twenties, he became a professional bodybuilder. As a young professional bodybuilder, all of his workouts had the “go hard or go home” mentality. He had to put in everything and do it all. As a 24 year old, that worked and his body worked with it.
But then Scott entered what he calls “the real world,” with a spouse, kids, his own business, and other stressors. And he had to battle against the mentality that he had when he was a professional bodybuilder.
He believed that he could work out the way that he had before as a professional, but he found that his body rebelled. He was forced to spend a lot of time recovering and repairing.
He learned that the nervous system has a threshold, and will react when there are too many stresses going on. Some of the stress might be in our minds, like worry about the business or a to do list for next week. But the physical stress of a workout also contributes to the load. When he was bodybuilding, the message was more is better, but Scott learned that our bodies don’t say that.
So he made a shift. Instead of tackling long and intense workouts, he began to exercise throughout the day. He was more gentle and more mindful as he exercised more frequently. As he exercised, he would ask himself “What does my body need?”
And with that small shift, Scott experienced a big change. With smaller doses of exercise, he found that he was not hurting, he was getting better sleep, exercise was working as a stress reducer for him, and he was able to work out daily.
Scott says that exercise is like medicine, if we do it in the right doses, it can have a big impact on our health.
Join in with our August Move Challenge to add more exercise into your day.