Pursue What Matters
Episode 219: Self-Leadership and Exercise
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
How are you treating yourself? Do you move your body regularly? Well, of course, as humans, we are designed for movement. And yet too many of us are living very sedentary lifestyles. And then we’re wondering why we’re fatigued, unmotivated, or down in the dumps. It’s time to take balanced movement seriously.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:42
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So right now we are in a series focused on self leadership. So with self leadership, it’s all about paying attention to the daily practices, and activities that help you to thrive so that you can first lead yourself before you can lead others. And I’ve introduced the secure foundation acronym. And that is really designed to help us hone in on those practices, and habits that can really help us to thrive. And so all of the components of secure are the minimum requirements for coping well, so these really are non negotiables. Last week, I introduced you to spirituality. And today we’re moving to the second component of secure, which is exercise. You can also think about that as balanced movement. So it doesn’t mean you have to be in a gym on a treadmill or anything like that, that we’re talking about balance or moving your body in balanced ways, consistently, in in ways that benefit both your physical and your mental health. And so you know, with the podcast today, we’re going to focus on four things. First, we’re going to talk about the role of Exercise and Movement in self leadership. Second, we’re going to talk about some exercise basics, we’re just going to go over the basics people tend to complicate exercise too much, and it’s really not necessary. I’m going to touch lightly on NEAT which is another acronym that we use in exercise and fitness. I think it can be a helpful concept for you in terms of just moving your body a little bit more. And then the last thing we’ll talk about are the benefits of exercise. So I have always been an exerciser, I’m, I’m, I’m probably too committed to it at times, I can be a little obsessive about it. But you know, for me, I’ve just always felt very strongly that benefit of exercise, not only with those, those endorphins, right, but I just I feel I sleep better. I feel more motivated in my life, I it improves my mood.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:59
So these are just some of my personal benefits that I’ve noticed about exercise for myself, over the years, and I’ve been a regular exerciser, probably sense. You know, well, of course, as a child running and playing and all of that. And then more formal exercise in junior high used to teach step aerobics in high school and college. So it back in back in the days of the step aerobics, which was a lot of fun, met a lot of great people through that. And it was just something that always brought me a lot of joy and connection in my body. So think about for yourself, what are your earliest memories of movement, so it might be playing with friends. It might be, you know, taking on a challenging obstacle course somewhere or doing something with your family, maybe it was playing at the beach or something like that. As humans were meant to move, we are designed for movement. And so you know, as life gets busy, and we we face stressors, and we’re not getting enough sleep, it’s really easy for exercise to fall off of our radar screen, right? It’s something it’s one of those practices that can, unless we’ve really set a firm habit is one of the first things to go because it does take time. It’s easy for us to sacrifice our own needs to, you know, deadlines or others demands and yet, we really undermine our well being when we don’t prioritize balanced movement movement.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:29
So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. And of course, every week with the podcast. My goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead in one of three areas. So helping you to lead with clarity, which is all about that connection to purpose, helping you to lead with curiosity, which is all about self awareness and self leadership. It’s exactly what we’re focusing on today, and then helping you to lead and build a community. And so, you know, of course, these benefits will benefit your team and it’s something that as a leader, you can really encourage in your team. Some of these some of these basic practices that we’re learning about with secure, they’re good for you. They’re good for others. And so of course, we want to lead by example.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:13
So, let’s jump in to exercise and the role of exercise with self leadership. So in my life as a psychologist and a leadership coach, I often tell those that I that I work with, that there are two no brainers that everyone should be doing to help themselves when it comes to well being when it comes to flourishing in life, and that, honestly, they shouldn’t even consider more substantial interventions until they are doing these two things consistently. And so what are they, the first no brainer that I tell folks is exercise or balanced movement, the research is just so compelling on the benefits of it. And you don’t need to listen to the research, just pay attention to how you feel, after you’ve moved your body. Now, you might have a little bit of muscle soreness, or tightness, especially if you haven’t been very mobile, but you feel the benefits in your body, you feel the benefits in your mood, you feel the benefits in, in in rest, and sleep and energy. And then the second no brainer, is mindfulness practice, which we’re not talking about today. But I love talking about that as well. And so the truth is, you can’t afford not to exercise. And I really do mean not. So I’m not talking about signing up for an ultra marathon or anything like that. I’m talking about balanced, moderate, consistent movement, as an absolute must for physical and emotional well being. Now what that looks like is going to be different for you than it is for other people. And this is where we want to stay away from high expectations or you know, rigid demands, your exercise plan, or your movement plan should be very specific to you to, to your health to your situation. You don’t have to be the fastest, the strongest the fittest, you just need to do something for your heart, and for your health. And really, it’s doing something for yourself. This is what self leadership is all about. It is in service to yourself, and to everyone else you interact with. For you to take good care of your, of your physical health and mental health I sometimes we talk about physical and mental health. And honestly, I’m trying to just not even talk about those as a distinction because it’s all one hole it’s you. So we want to do something you enjoy. And if you can make it social, all the better. So if you do something that you enjoy, you’re much more likely to stick with it. If you can do that socially, that can help you to form a new habit. So if you have a friend that you know is going to is going to be waiting for you to pick them up.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:04
So you guys can you know, go for a run, or head to the gym together, you’re much more likely to get up and get ready and get out the door even when you don’t want to. So the key really is to do something that is sustainable, that you can keep doing consistently. So if you make it too complicated or too expensive, or you know too many steps in that process, these all represent barriers that make it less likely for you to stick with this habit for the long run. Now, sometimes people like to make it a little more complicated, so they have more buy in. So for instance, when I was starting to get into cycling, I spent the money on a nice bike because I knew I was going to use some of my characteristics. In service of this new habit. I knew I’d feel guilty if I looked at that bike every day and wasn’t getting on it. And so for me that investment in a bike actually helped me to develop the habit of cycling. And now cycling is something I do several times a week. I love it. It’s so it’s so fun for me. And so think about what works best for you if you need to keep it really simple, because that’s going to help you to develop a habit. That’s awesome. Let’s let’s go with that. So for most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends these following exercise guidelines. Right. And so, again, exercise is personal to you. But there are some specific guidelines that can be helpful. These are very general guidelines. So there’s a lot of room to move even with these. So first, we think about aerobic activity. So this is at least so this is the guideline, 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity Eat a week. So this isn’t a full week. So when you heard 150 minutes, don’t you know don’t drop your lunch or anything like that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:07
Or it’s a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. So the guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week, don’t do all 150 minutes in one shot, that would not be wise. But greater amounts of exercise will provide even greater health benefit. But here’s the thing, even small amounts of that physical activity are helpful. And when we think about aerobic activity, we think about activity that is for your cardiovascular system that engages your cardiovascular system, think about aerobic activity, as the aimed at your heart health. So this is keeping your motor running, making sure that you can respond to life’s challenges, and that it’s not going to, you know, you’re not going to get winded, that you’re going to be able to meet challenges in your life. And really, you know, exercise that heart as as you’re exercising everything else. So being active, for short periods of time throughout the day can add up to provide a health benefit. So some sometimes people will, they’ll say like, if I don’t have an hour, I might as well not go. And I would just say don’t fall into that trap, even a shorter period of time can be really helpful. And so it’s really about that cumulative time across the week. So let’s talk about the difference between moderate aerobic exercise are cardiovascular exercise, and vigorous exercise. So when it comes to moderate aerobic exercise, this includes activities such as brisk walking, so brisk walking is you could carry on a conversation. But you might feel a little winded. This includes swimming and mowing the lawn so that right like you’re engaging your heart, you know that you’re working, as opposed to vigorous exercise, which includes activities such as running, anaerobic dancing. So when I think about vigorous exercise, it’s like, if you had to talk, you could, that you really don’t want to like it’s really not comfortable to talk. And so I think that’s just kind of a simple distinction that you can make to help yourself, you can use this when you’re exercising, like, Could I carry on a conversation right now. And so if you can, if you can carry on a conversation, that would be moderate, if it’s too uncomfortable to carry on a conversation, that would be vigorous. So a lot of times after my strength workout, I will do some aerobic activity, right, because I want my help my heart to be healthy. But often I will do moderate exercise, and I lost often visit with a friend. While I’m doing that, and so we can carry on a conversation. But I’ll get winded, I will have to pause, I’m like ready for her to take her turn when it’s time for her to talk because, you know, I can do it. But it’s not very enjoyable. But if I were, say running on a treadmill, first of all, don’t run on a treadmill, run outside, enjoy it. But if I were running on a treadmill, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t be talking to a friend, I’d have to slow my rate down. And that would move me into the moderate range rather than vigorous.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:15
So there’s just a little helpful guideline for you. So again, we have the exercise guideline for aerobic activity, 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. And it can be a mix of that. And then the second category that the Department of Health and Human Services recommends is strength training. So aerobic activity is that cardiovascular health strength training is all about building and strengthening your major muscle groups. So do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups, at least two times a week. So that’s really the guideline that we’re looking at the recommendations. And of course, there are so many variations to this. But in general aim to do two to four sets of each exercise using a weight or resistance level. So whether that’s a band, or your own body weight, heavy enough to tie your muscles after about 10 to 15 reputated repetitions. And so the goal was strength training is to fatigue the muscles. This is how, after your exercise, you grow and strengthen your muscle fibers. And so if you’re doing strength training, but it but you don’t have much resistance, or it’s not really taxing to you, you’re not going to you’re not going to get the benefit from strength training. So strength training can include the use of weight machines, your own body weight, the use of your own body weight is perfect, right. So we think about push ups, we think about planks, so we don’t have to. We don’t have to make this complicated. You don’t have to have a bunch of equipment. Some equipment can be helpful but use your own body weighed resistance to being or resistance paddles in the water for those swimmers among us, or activities such as rock climbing. So these are exercises that require you to engage and use your muscles. So as a general goal when it comes to exercise, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you are interested in losing weight, maintaining weight loss or meeting specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more, but this can really backfire on you. Right, the research is mixed on this. I’m not a fan of weight loss generally.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:40
And, you know, exercise is important for maintaining, maintaining weight stability. But it can backfire on you when you use it for weight loss because you have an increase in appetite. And so a lot of people overeat, or they justify when they’re exercising more. And it doesn’t, it gets them out of alignment with their fitness goals. But in general, we’re not talking about weight loss or weight gain, we’re just talking about cardiovascular health and skeletal muscle. Health and right when we’re doing strength training, we’re protecting not only our muscles, but also our bones for the long haul. You know, I don’t know about you, but I want to I want to stay mobile and moving. And strength training is a really important component of that. So those are some of the exercise basics. And next, let’s move into neat. This is a really important concept that many of us don’t understand very well. But it’s it’s really key when it comes to movement. So Ni is an acronym it starts it starts sorry, it stands for non exercise Activity Thermogenesis. And so when it comes to movement, exercise is not the only game in town. So we think about energy expenditure as humans were designed to move all of our movements, right, whether it’s talking on a podcast, whether it’s heading down the hall to get a drink of water, all of this requires energy. And so, you know, we’re always talking about energy expenditure when it comes to movement. So it’s really looking at how you burn energy or expend calories, which is called the total daily energy expenditure. So this is known as t d, e. And it can be organized into three distinct categories.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:37
So first, we have the basal metabolic rate many of us have probably heard this, it’s BMR is also known as your resting metabolic rate, so or RMR and it’s really, it’s the amount of energy that you need your body needs to support the functions of the organs and physiological systems. It’s it’s basically what do you need? What kind of energy do you need to keep yourself alive and breathing even if you were in a bed, just that vegetative state, and this comprises approximately 60 to 75% of our total daily energy expenditure, so that TDE and so the the three organs that do most of the heavy lifting, lifting, right, so they’re kind of taking more than their fair share of burning calories at rest are the liver, the brain and skeletal muscle. And that makes sense, right? So the liver is at 27% of RMR the brain which is at 19%, of RMR and then skeletal muscle, which is 18% of RMR, right? Like, these are big important functions in our bodies. And so of course, they require more energy. So it’s worth noting that the brain alone uses about 1/5 of your resting metabolic rate, which helps explain why you don’t think is clearly when you’re hungry, right. So sometimes school will describe fatigue or brain fog, they just can’t think very clearly, because your brain is a high energy extender, right it requires a lot of calories to work properly. And then the the other component, when it comes to total daily energy expenditure is the thermic effect of food. So, te f this is the energy the body uses to convert the food into more energy or to move it to a location to be stored as fat for use at a later time and it makes up about 10% of your daily energy expenditure, right. So, it requires energy to to utilize the food that we eat and then the third component is known as the thermic effect of physical activity. So this is T P A, and this accounts for the remaining energy expenditure and this is about 15 to 30% of daily energy output included in this number is excess post energy oxygen consumption, which is the amount of energy the body burns after exercise to return to its normal state right after exercise, you get the you get an energy benefit, even when you’ve completed your workout. This, this tends to last a little longer in the morning or it keeps you keeps that percentage a little higher, which is one of the reasons. Morning exercisers do a little bit better with those energy numbers. When it comes to etpa. There are two different types of activity. So there’s the planned exercise, which we’ve already talked about. And then there’s the spontaneous non exercise activities that occur every time you perform some sort of physical exertion, such as standing up from a seated position or running to catch the bus. And so while as we’ve discussed, exercise is a really important form of physical activity, and it can burn hundreds of calories at a time. Other forms of physical activity called non exercise Activity Thermogenesis or NEAT can play a significant role in helping to maximize the total amount of calories burned in a single day. And so, when we think of NEAT we think about activities of daily living that support an active lifestyle. So taking the stairs instead of the elevator getting up and walking around every hour or so walking to the mailbox, playing with the kids in the backyard, parking the car farther away in the parking lot stretching while enjoying your favorite Netflix movie. So reducing sitting time is important as well. The more hours you sit each day, the higher your risk of metabolic problems. Sitting too much can negatively impact your health and longevity, even if you get the recommended amount of daily physical activity.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:50
Now I think there’s been some alarmists thinking about standing and sitting. And so we don’t need to get too extreme with this. But in general, we want to be moving our bodies. And if we’re sitting for long chunks of time, this can be problematic. So if you are short on big chunks of time, which many of us are, just remember that even brief bounce, bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can’t fit in 130 minute walk during the day, try a few five minute walks, instead, any activity is better than none at all. And what’s most important in all of this is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle. So we really want to think about balance movement as a lifestyle. So now we’re going to finish up the podcast by talking about some of the benefits of exercise. And you know, again, you could put in balanced movements, the same idea. So there are 10 major benefits that I’m going to discuss today. So the first one is it makes you happier. So regular exercise really improves your mood and decreases feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. Okay, Sign me up. I’m there, I’m ready to go. The second one is that exercise can help with weight loss. So, again, I’m not talking about the benefits of exercise explicitly for weight loss. But if that is something that could be helpful for you or you’ve had that recommendation by a physician, it’s a complicated issue. But exercise can absolutely help with that. So some studies have shown that inactivity is a major factor in weight gain and obesity. And so, you know, it’s important to understand when we think about the effect of exercise on weight reduction, we need to understand the relationship between exercise and energy expenditure, which is what we just talked about. The bottom line here is the exercise is crucial to supporting a fast metabolism and burning more calories per day. It also helps you maintain your muscle mass, mass and weight loss and again as humans we are designed for movement.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:08
So third benefit is exercise strengthens muscles and bones. It really plays a vital role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones. Physical activity, like weightlifting can stimulate muscle building when paired with adequate protein intake. And this right so this is because exercise helps release hormones that promote the ability of your muscles to absorb amino acids. This helps them grow and reduces their breakdown. So you know, I’m getting older, we’re all getting older. We’re all aging, and I’m thinking about this a lot more. Right as people age they tend to lose muscle mass and function which can lead to injuries and disabilities. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age, especially as you age. You’ve got to be doing strength training and ladies I am talking to you it’s income credibly important for building and protecting bone density. And so of course, we want you to be moving throughout your whole life, because you have good bone density going into the later years where you start to lose it. And you know, so I mentioned that I’ve been an exerciser my whole life. And I’ve especially done a lot of strength training as part of my movement, and I had a DEXA scan not too long ago, and, you know, the numbers were awesome, and they’re like, Wow, you’re you’re not going to be at risk for a hip fracture in old age. And, you know, because I have had a full life of movement and weight bearing exercises. Now, of course, there are genetic differences in that. So you know, it’s not a perfect correlation. But when you are moving, you are strengthening and protecting your muscles and bones. And now let’s go to the fourth benefit, which is exercise boosts energy, so it can absolutely increase your energy levels. So it can be a real energy booster for healthy people as well as for those suffering from various medical conditions. So one study found that six weeks of regular exercise reduce feelings of fatigue for 36 Healthy People who had reported persistent fatigue. And so it’s really good it this regular exercise will increase your energy levels. And it doesn’t matter what your health status is. And then let’s go to our fifth benefit, which is that exercise reduces the risk of chronic disease. Now, this is a big one, a lack of regular physical activity is actually a primary cause of chronic disease. Regular exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which is a huge factor when it comes to diabetes. It has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness and body composition. It also decreases blood pressure, and blood fat levels. And so these are all really important factors when it comes to protecting us from the risk of chronic disease.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:16
And then let’s go to the sixth benefit, which is that exercise can improve your skin health, I like that our teenagers will like that as well if they’re prone to acne, so your skin can be affected by the amount of oxidative stress in your body. This occurs when the body’s antioxidant defenses cannot completely repair the damage that free radicals caused to cells. And so this can damage the internal structures and and really take a toll on your skin. And so intense and exhaustive physical activity can contribute to oxidative damage. However, regular moderate exercise can increase your body’s production of natural antioxidants, which help to protect your cells. And so that’s an important point to remember, right, it’s moderate exercise, it’s that balance movement, so nothing too extreme. So the seventh benefit, it can improve your brain health and memory. It can help protect your memory and your thinking skills. So to begin with, it increases your heart rate which, which promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. It can also stimulate the production of hormones that can enhance the growth of brain cells. And you know, that ability of exercise to prevent chronic disease can translate into benefits for your brain, since its function function can be affected by these diseases as well.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:44
So let’s go to the eighth benefit, which is exercise can improve your sleep and relaxation. So your sleep quality can really be greatly improved by exercise. So the energy depletion that occurs during exercise stimulates recuperative processes during sleep. So it’s fair, that’s a very cool thing. And you can just notice for yourself, like if I have an exercise in a day, I have a harder time falling asleep. And then let’s go to the ninth benefit, which is the exercise can reduce pain. So you know, chronic pain can be debilitating, but regular exercise can actually help reduce that. In fact, for many years, the recommendation for treating chronic pain was rest and inactivity. However, recent studies show that exercise helps relieve chronic pain. So telling people to rest was the wrong approach. Of course, if you have an acute injury, you need to rest that and give it time so you’re not in you know, a lot of pain when you’re moving. But you know, if we think about the back pain, you know, I have like three, I think three or four herniated discs and strengthening my back muscles and my core through you know, focused movement with good form has been the best thing for my back. And like I very rarely have back pain at this point. And I absolutely attribute that to, to exercise. And so don’t be afraid of movement, even if you have some pain, of course work with your medical provider on that. And now the last exercise benefit that we’ll talk about today, the 10th one, and it’s, I’ve saved, I’ve saved one of the best ones for last, which is exercise promotes a better sex life. So it can boost your sex drive, it can strengthen the cardiovascular system, improved blood circulation, toned muscles, and enhanced flexibility, all of which can improve your sex life. And so it improves sexual performance and sexual pleasure. And their people who exercise regularly have an increase in the frequency of sexual activity.
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:56
And so this is great, this is great news for us, and so there are 10 Exercise benefits. And of course, there are many others. But those should build a pretty good case for you to help you get going on a regular habit of exercise. And so again, in this podcast, we talked about the fact that regular moderate exercise will do more to keep you mentally and physically sharp than almost anything else you can do. I gave you some guidelines on aiming for both cardiovascular exercise and strength training, both are important. And then we also talked about NEAT the Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis which consists of activities of daily life that support an active lifestyle. So taking those stairs instead of the elevator getting up and moving your body regularly. And then we talked about 10 big benefits of exercise. And so head on over to my website to check out the show notes with all the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/219-selfleadershipandexercise. You can connect with me on Instagram at @dr.melissasmith I’d love to connect with you there. I’ll have lots of this information and resources there so you can dig dive deeper in all of this. And then of course if you wouldn’t mind giving me a five star review on Apple and Spotify. It helps other people find the podcast. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work. Work in love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care
Transcribed by https://otter.ai