Walking Guide

Stop Exercising So Hard! Why Moderate Workouts Really Do Work


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  149 comments   :  125,647 Views

Have you noticed how intense workout programs have become in recent years? The top-selling fitness DVDs are by "America's Toughest Trainer" Jillian Michaels (think 30 Day Shred) and also include P90X and Insanity (advertised as "the hardest fitness program ever put on DVD"). Even Crossfit, which combines gymnastics, power lifting, and plyometrics and was originally used by athletes, firefighters, and soldiers, is gaining popularity among unfit beginners and housewives alike. The ever-popular "Biggest Loser" TV series also depicts people exercising to the point of injury, hospitalization, and vomiting.
I remember a time when commercials for fitness products used to show how easy and effortless it was to lose weight and tone up in just minutes a day. But now, we see the sweat and strain and want to be a part of it. Are we crazy? Am I the only one concerned about this trend?
As a certified fitness professional, I can tell you for a fact that it is both unsafe and very risky for the average Joe (or Jane) to jump into high intensity exercise when just starting a fitness routine. Yet workout programs like these aren't marketed to regular exercisers who want to take their fitness to the next level. They target people who are overweight and obese, out of shape, and/or not already exercising consistently. To go from sitting on the couch to performing high intensity exercise is contraindicated by all reputable fitness organizations, including ACE (American Council on Exercise), ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America), NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association), The Cooper Institute and more. All reputable fitness organizations say that one must start small with lighter and shorter workouts and then very gradually build up their fitness level before attempting the types of workouts I see being sold to beginners every day.
But safety concerns and risk aside (not that I want to downplay that), what bothers me most about the trend toward high intensity fitness programs is that they are shaping consumers' ideas of what exercise should be like and what it takes to lose weight and get healthy.
Many people believe that this is what exercise is: sweaty, messy, painful, breathless and intense—and that these are requirements for losing weight or getting fit. How likely are you to jump on board if this is what you truly believe about fitness?
Well I'm here to tell you that the ill-conceived ideas of exercise that are shaped by reality TV, late night infomercials, and consumer fitness trends don't hold much water. They sell DVDs and ad space, but they don't help the average person.
Intense workouts set most people up for failure. You fail at the workout itself when you can't keep up. You fail on any day when you can't commit to the full length of the program since most of the workouts are "all or nothing." You fail when you're too sore or tired to want to exercise. You fail when you don't get the fast and amazing results you felt you were promised. And you fail when all of these things combine and make you dread working out.
Here's the truth: Exercise doesn't have to be painful. It doesn't have to leave you tired, sore or breathless. And to be perfectly honest, it should never make you puke. Exercise doesn't have to take hours a day or cost a lot of money. It doesn't have to leave you in dread of your next workout. And it doesn't have to be boring or torturous.
For someone who gets winded walking up a flight of stairs; for the person with mobility issues that has trouble just getting around; for people with diabetes complications that affect their feet; for individuals whose excess weight hurts their joints; for the very people who still aren't exercising regularly for whatever reason—I design workouts, review products, and share fitness tips with YOU in mind. I want you to feel successful on day one, encouraged on day two, excited about day three, energized on day four, confident on day five…
These feelings are far more important than chiseled arms and calorie burn, because these are the things that will keep you coming back to make exercise a habit. Once it's a habit, then you can think about doing more or working harder or challenging yourself with more intense workouts like the examples above (if that's what you like), but first and foremost—you have to just get started. And the beauty of this approach is that YOU CAN DO ANYTHING.
You can walk, dance around your house, try a yoga class or hula hoop in your backyard—regardless of whether it's easy or hard, short or long, or even if it only burns 2 calories per hour. Those intense workouts only burn the hundreds of calories they claim if you're actually doing them regularly, not when the DVDs are collecting dust in your media cabinet.
It's time we stop focusing so intently on the end result and start enjoying the process more. Find a way to move your body that you LOVE and I promise you'll achieve the goals you have in mind. Here are some more workouts and tips to get you started:
What do you think about the trend toward intense exercise? Has it helped you, hurt you or not affected you?

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  • 149
    Great blog - 12/6/2017   10:03:14 AM
    "exercise is: sweaty, messy, painful, breathless and intense". My doctor actually said this to me and would ask me at every visit "are you breathless" when you exercise. Well no. I'm lucky I can walk a mile. Thank you for this article. I am now working out at my own pace. And feeling better every day. :) - 12/5/2017   3:20:47 PM
  • 147
    Thank you, Coach Nicole. This needed to be said, and loudly. I hope people listen!! - 12/5/2017   11:13:56 AM
  • 146
    Good article - 12/5/2017   12:17:08 AM
  • 145
    Good article - 12/5/2017   12:17:08 AM
  • 144
    Not everyone is young eternally. - 11/11/2017   11:32:15 AM
  • 143
    GREAT article! - 10/1/2017   8:44:27 AM
  • 142
    Personally, I LIKE pushing myself as hard as I can. It's NEVER made me puke or feel dizzy, and I love how I feel afterwards. Of course, as an out-of-shape 54-year-old, my "hard as I can" probably ISN'T very hard compared to some of the workouts cited. - 9/19/2017   2:06:20 PM
  • 141
    And I love your workouts. - 9/12/2017   5:26:51 AM
  • 140
    I walk a lot and go to yoga 1 time per. week. I have low blood pressure 80/50 so I can not do any hard workouts at the gym as it lowers it more. I do go to the gym sometimes and workout slow at the fat burning zone. This slightly raises my blood pressure & walking raises it also. I have a blood clot in one lung also. I have to also add salt to my meals to keep my blood pressure up. - 5/18/2017   6:57:13 AM
    Totally agree that this Cross Fit/P90X/HIIT trend is not only the reason many people don't start exercising at all or give up exercising completely after they complete whatever random number of days or weeks they were told they needed to do, I also think it's dangerous. You literally CANNOT do some of the exercises safely and with proper form if you're not already at a certain level of fitness and yet these exercise programs push you to work beyond your ability to protect your body from bad form -- even if you're already fit, but even worse if you're just starting out or getting back in. It's been gratifying to see the number of studies that have come out showing that moderate but more frequent exercise has better outcomes in general than these more intense programs. - 8/21/2016   11:37:43 PM
  • 138
    Oh, how I miss Coach Nicole. (Hope she's happy, whatever she's doing now.) I love her common sense approach and her encouragement, without ever exhorting you to push too hard, as many other trainers--yes, even on Spark videos--too often do. - 8/21/2016   10:16:49 PM
  • 137
    The Sparkpeople resources are perfect for someone like myself that was essentially a couch potato for two years. Since joining Sparkpeople and using Coach Nicole's exercises for beginners I'm excited about exercising every day. - 8/21/2016   9:10:31 PM
  • 136
    I don't know. I took dance classes three times a week when I was in my mid-20s. It was challenging (it was barre and Pilates), but I looked great after a few months. And I never vomited once. If you have to barf, maybe you're not as fit as you think. - 8/21/2016   6:54:59 PM
  • 135
    The current popularity of "boot camp"-style workouts really dismays me, especially when people exercise to DVDs where no one is checking their form. Even a lot of Spark videos go too fast and long for me (I'm 62 and have spinal injuries), so I don't do them. We want to work our bodies, but if it hurts or we feel as if we can't catch our breath, something is wrong. Walking will stay my bag. - 8/21/2016   6:45:04 PM
  • 134
    Great blog. Sometimes I have felt inadequate for NOT going into the real intense workouts. I've tried some, but they just aren't for me. I enjoy and look forward to Leslie Sansone and Jessica Smith workouts and programs for every level, with great variety and modifications. They are very effective without going overboard. I'm getting toned and fit, but not going crazy. I feel good about it and I feel good about me! - 8/21/2016   9:05:01 AM
  • 133
    AMEN sister! Those workouts are selling a fantasy to the majority of their customers. Sure it's cool to look and be an buff young sculpted athlete but you don't get there till you've been doing those routines (and reached optimal weight) a looooong time. And as you said - the promoters of those workouts are selling dvd's, not offering magic on a disc.

    Great Great blog - one of your best. (btw, I seriously heart your 5 minute workouts. Great for getting real focus back into my life on a sleepy afternoon sitting at work. Thanks!) - 8/21/2016   7:16:40 AM
  • 132
    I enjoy pushing myself, but for some people, walking up a flight of stairs might be pushing themselves. Thank you for reminding people that these difficult exercise videos might not be right for everybody.

    That being said, I've done some of these videos, and in general, I think that they can be helpful for many people, if used sensibly. Many of these programs have beginner levels (like Tae Bo), and you can modify them as needed. I've never seen a program that I couldn't do, but I always start with the beginner level, and I modify as needed.

    Of course, it is never a good idea to push yourself to the point where you are injuring yourself. Safety is important. - 8/21/2016   3:28:11 AM
  • 131
    I have to agree. You need to go at your own pace and people do work too hard. We want a quick fix and all these ads PROMISE to burn so many calories per however long. If you want to do something so intense, by all means, go for it! BUt you also don't have to THINK that you have to kill yourself to lose a few pounds. Do what is comfortable, that's all. - 7/11/2016   10:30:33 PM
  • 130
    I get the whole argument for not going zero to 120 at takeoff, although there are many people who successfully do just that.
    The only thing I truly disagree with is your statement that, "to be perfectly honest, [exercise] should never make you puke." Ever ran a 5K for a PR time? Pushing yourself hard during cardio -- regardless of your fitness level -- will make you throw up. (Or at least dry heave, if your stomach is empty.) It's just a thing. Some people don't show up to a workout to just "play it safe, go slow and make it through." Some people show up to a workout to push their limits. Maybe it isn't safe to push one's limits or challenge oneself during a cardio workout. But you know what? I'll risk it. And I'm not alone.
    Vomiting during cardio is simply representation of effort, not problems. I'm not in the habit of doing it regularly, but I'm not afraid to push myself to that point, either. - 10/3/2015   12:47:53 AM
  • 129
    "See your doctor first" is a warning that should be heeded! I didn't and was fortunate not to have had a stroke. I found out a few months after starting that my blood pressure was sky-high. I am not sure what came first: high blood pressure or over-exercising, but it's better to be safe, even if you've been told many times in the past (like I was) that exercise was fine. I know I started out way too intensely, and even the "modified" exercises were too much for me. I dropped out of that program and am taking it slower now. I will never do that level, even if my fitness increases, because a "ripped body" is not my goal. I want a body that functions well in the activities of daily life. - 5/17/2015   1:27:54 PM
  • 128
    I think everyone needs to remind themselves to adapt workouts to their current physical condition. I tried to do too much in a 3 day period and ended up stressing my body out and crashed for 3-4 days after that. This article is correct that all of the information that you read and hear is geared to want us to lose weight, but the bottom line is that you shouldn't have to kill yourself to do it! That being said I am still going to exercise but in MODERATION. Lesson learned. - 3/1/2015   6:07:40 PM
  • 127
    Once I started working at my own level my workouts became more consistent and I was able to do more. So I agree with this article. - 2/17/2015   5:58:46 PM
    Typical, everyone has to critique everything. I have been unfit for years, have attempted to workout on and off to no avail, AND was a smoker when i began Jillians 30 day shred. was it difficult, YES! was i in pain YES! did i see results? You bet your ass I did! Why? because i didnt make up excuses. But wheatever to each his own - 2/9/2015   12:06:27 PM
  • 125
    Amen! Great article.
    - 1/24/2014   12:22:09 PM
  • 124
    Interesting... - 6/3/2013   8:07:48 AM
  • JOGIRL411
    Thank you for writing this!! I have been thinking about this for some time now after buying these high intensity workouts. Jillian Michaels, the firm thin in 30 and countless others are selling us on the faster and harder the better. Well I am here to say I don't enjoy it. I dread the workouts and they make my knees hurt. I do not like Jillian Michaels telling people to use her DVDs 5-6 days a week because I have read that you should not work the same muscles everyday and she does this in the popular 30 day shred workout. I have the biggest losers workouts and they advise the same thing. There are a lot of squats and lunges in these DVDs so I don't do them everyday. As far as lose lots of weight in 20 min a day...get real. The biggest losers on TV workout 6-8hrs a day to lose that weight. I feel like many of these trainers are pulling the wool over peoples eyes. I want to do a workout because enjoy it and I can feel and see the healthy benefits from it. My pledge for 2013 is to ignore the hype about get ripped in only 20 mins and lose 20lbs in a month and just do workouts that make me feel good about working out. - 1/20/2013   4:55:27 PM
  • 122
    I try to work out as hard as necessary, but have to be realistic....can't afford to be out of the game due to injury...so I keep it real, for who I am. - 3/22/2012   7:34:28 AM
  • 121
    RIghtr on Nicole, intense and regular = my exercise style. Got a trainer who pushes me and keep me on track. plus weight watchers. I lost 35 pounds and 30 " with this method. And am looking forward to losing the rest of my weight at the same rate. Intense but not overwhelming, so glad others feel the same way. No tough mudder or insanity for me!! - 3/20/2012   8:01:42 PM
  • DIETER27
    The trend for intense workout has not affected me. I workout at my own intensity and find that if you push too hard you will injure yourself more. One step at a time is my motto. Thanks for your blog ! - 3/8/2012   10:12:37 AM
  • 119
    I was curious at some comments I'd seen on a friend's page about this article, so I looked it up and was interested to read it and the comments afterwards. Then, just for fun, I decided to actually view a P90X infomercial just as an example to judge for myself whether they're marketed to beginners. I hadn't watched one before because common sense would dictate they are not designed for someone at my fitness level, which was the thesis of this article. My conclusion was, yes and no on the marketing question. While it addressed taking your workout to the next level, it also showed a "before" picture of a pasty dude's torso that had a big beer belly and man boobs. His after picture showed the cut lines of having muscles where the belly used to be. I would say this is most likely false advertising. So you can't say at least in this instance there wasn't an element of trying to get buy in from people at across-the-board fitness levels. I think a lot of people missed the point of Coach Nicole's blog. Thesis: it is both unsafe and very risky for the average Joe (or Jane) to jump into high intensity exercise when just starting a fitness routine.
    Conclusion: Once it's a habit, then you can think about doing more or working harder or challenging yourself with more intense workouts like the examples above (if that's what you like). At no point does she argue that these higher intensity workouts are a bad idea for challenging yourself when you reach a higher fitness level. And I'm just going to add an observation here, somewhat unrelatedly, that it was interesting to view some language in the comment section that expressed value judgments about people who aren't as physically fit. If you're more physically fit, you've "graduated" or are doing something "better." Nice to know. - 2/8/2012   7:27:43 PM
  • 118
    I agree 100%! Any workout that looks super hard turns me off completely. Exercise should be something that you enjoy, and that challenges you, not something that is so hard that you try it once and then HATE all exercise for weeks because you're in so much pain afterward. - 12/30/2011   10:27:30 AM
  • 117
    It hasn't affected me. I see the infomercials and think I wish I could do that. But I prefer to stick to my own cardio and strength training routines. I like to go with my proven winner, something that I like and enjoy. I have done it the spark way. I eased into it a step at a time. Go Spark! - 11/26/2011   3:05:07 PM
  • 116
    I haven't tried any of those particularly hard workouts yet. I would like to eventually when I am in better shape, though. My husband does get on my case about over-exercising. He constantly reminds me I don't need to do that much when I exercise for 2 hours/day for 7 days straight. Over the past 2 weeks I've purposefully done less exercising in order to break through a weight loss plateau by changing things up. I realized how great my body feels when taking a day off from the workouts; I love the day after feeling in the muscles I've worked. I think I'm seeing better results, too. I'm making a point to take off days between strength training and only do cardio 5 days/week now, and it really has been more effective than 7 days/week ST and cardio. - 11/26/2011   1:42:56 PM
  • 115
    @FIDDLEMOM and others: the push, push, push mentality is usually the disparate but harmonious voices of younger adults (possibly former cheerleaders or athletes) with at most a few pounds to lose; or if dozens of pounds to lose, a far different body type from me--and from many others in a different life space or with different genetics. I know when I had been their age, I did not exercise and I had about 70 pounds to lose at that time that did not come off but sporadically, with major food cutbacks. I know when I had been their age, and not even very overweight at the time, I could not run (slowly) a mile without developing severe pain in my midriff. This is at age 19. The only exercise I came to naturally, had been walking and stretching my legs up the wall. As a teenager! - 11/26/2011   10:40:55 AM
  • 114
    Nicely said! Also if one does embark on something extreme and loses weight too quickly there are added complications. You already mentioned injury but there is also the starvation mode kick in, loose skin and Leptin resistance to mention just a couple! - 11/24/2011   2:19:05 PM
  • 113
    Let's hear it for common sense, Coach Nicole!
    Like many others, I gained a pound a year for forty years after high school. It is foolish as well as dangerous to try to work it off in forty days. Moderate diet and moderate exercise is the healthy and permanent way to get fit. - 11/24/2011   11:17:31 AM
    I think that the biggest loser is extreme but they are there for entertainment and really do emphasize a rigorous program. The average person should not be on something like that but it is good that they are professionals and have medical staff on site.

    I just think that one should do what works for them and is comfortable but not tooo comfortable. You gotta sweat a little bit and just be smart about your work outs. Don't do strength training every day especially if you do it to muscle fatigue. - 11/23/2011   7:37:35 PM
  • 111
    What it comes down to, in my opinion, is do what works for you. If those programs work for people, great. If you don't like them, do something else. - 11/19/2011   2:43:27 PM
  • 110
    Thank you Nicole! What you've written is pure Common Sense! Morbidly obese people didn't get that way because they were hot to work themselves into a puddle! While there are people who just LOVE to "feel the burn" most of us are not in love with working at that intensity. We are just trying to be able to be able to breath while we bend over to tie our shoes, be flexible enough to reach high shelves, and have enough strength and stamina to live the lives we want to live.

    I love that your philosophy reflects your compassion and respect for people in every stage of life, health and fitness, and that your videos and blogs are always encouraging and never demanding or scolding. The #1 thing that we hefty health-seekers need to remember is that this is NOT a race! We don't have to do this in a matter of weeks (or during one season of reality TV); rather, we can take all the time we need to reset our course.

    Wonderful blog! - 11/15/2011   7:00:16 PM
    Thanks for sharing this perspective, Nicole. Too many people jump into a rigorous workout routine without taking stock of how it can affect their bodies if they're not ready. At Fuse Pilates, we "redefine hardcore," but we also encourage students to do a few private classes or start with mat classes before hopping on the Reformer. It's important to start on your body's terms and grow from there. - 11/10/2011   1:41:34 PM
  • 108
    I've not been coming to SparkPeople much in the past couple of months in part because of this very thing.

    There is usually at least an undercurrent of "if you aren't pushing to your max, you aren't doing anything worth while" and I get tired of it.

    Every time I've done an exercise/diet/healthy living program (here or elsewhere) it's always there, the subtle, and often blatant, "you have to push, push, push." And I always end up hurting myself, feeling totally worn out and frustrated. Even with the changing how I eat aspect of it - all those "happy" comments and such about how wonderful it is to totally drop (not just cut back on) all the things you really enjoy and eating stuff you don't enjoy because it's healthier. The point always being that you have to change, change, change to the MAXIMUM to actually accomplish anything.

    In one article or blog you'll read all about how slow and steady, small changes etc. are the way to go, then in others you read how that just doesn't really cut it, how that really isn't enough.

    I appreciate this article, but it's just more of the confusing, contradicting stuff that is part and parcel of all health/diet/exercise programs and advice. Really, about the only constants seem to be you need to be moving a lot and you have to eat more fruits and veggies than anything else.

    Does anyone really expect people to feel comfortable here following the advice in this article? They might when they first come here and aren't reading very many blogs and such, but they'll soon feel like no matter what they're doing it isn't enough.

    I quit coming here so much, as I mentioned, in large part because I had once again hurt myself exercising. Once the pain went away, I've just cut back a little on how much I eat, try to do a bit more veggies but not worrying about the 5 or more servings thing, and walk around in my home in three 10 minute shifts (once every hour/3 times). Maybe ride my exercise bike for one of those shifts instead, or as one or two extra shifts if I'm not feeling tired. Sometimes I walk outside and do about a mile. Guess what, I've lost weight that wasn't budging when I was trying to stick closer to the program and doing more intense exercising. I don't feel anxious over every bite of food, worried over every meal and I haven't gotten hurt.

    I really am glad this program has worked for so many people. I'm glad it's here and it's free and I may come back more often in the future. But I'll be really careful about getting sucked into the push, push, push mentality. - 11/10/2011   12:05:00 PM
  • 107
    As a traditionally intensity junkie, I have to agree. After a couple of car accidents that stopped me teaching 12+ classes a week (cycle, kickbox, strength and yoga), I got back on track. So I thought. Started at home with Jillian Michael's DVD and another one...only to wind up at a sports chiropractor who said STOP LIFTING WEIGHTS for now. Huh? (I thought he'd tell me to strengthen more!)

    With all the push to intensify and to work your core and many muscles at once, I injured myself.

    What got me back? I decided to go old school, simple and what feels good. Once in a while I'll do something "fancy", but I generally do the elliptical or treadmill and listen to my body - some days I'll do hard intervals, other days just stay at my target heartrate (65-75%). As for weights, I went to what got me in shape 20 years ago: 3 set of 12 reps to fatigue of leg press, quads, hamstrings, chest press, lat pull down or row, biceps, triceps, shoulders and, of course, abs most every day.

    I understand the benefit of interval training and of integrating the use of more muscles at once while also using your core. But if it hurts, don't do it!

    Now mixing it up means different exercises for the primary muscles (like for chest - the bar, or free weights, or incline press, or flys instead).

    3 months of this training (strength 3x week, cardio 5-6 days for 50-65 min) and NO PAIN!!

    So keep it simple, even if that means just walking and stretching! - 11/9/2011   1:35:20 PM
  • 106
    OK, so here's my take all Coach Nicole's article and all the comments about it...you gotta do what's right for you. Period! I've been a gym member for over 30 years. So I've heard it all, lived through all the trends, yadda yadda. First of all, you have to LIKE what you do. Yes, it's not always easy to get up and go to the gym, but I NEVER regret going once I've finished. Personally, I have found that I'm a social exerciser so going to the gym fits my personality. I need others to make me work harder. I've tried videos and just found I get bored with doing the same old thing. They are a great starting point and are good inbetween other workouts. They serve a purpose, but I recommend adding other types of exercise to your routine. Secondly, when you add intensity, it boosts your metabolism. Your body gets used to doing the same exercises over and over. Changing it up makes a huge difference, not to mention it keeps your mind interested. Even if all you do is walk, you can walk a little faster for a block, or stop at a corner and go up and down the curb like a stairmaster. Doing a weight routine 2x a week builds bone mass so I added that to my regular routine. IIt's all about mixing it up for me. That's what keeps me motivated. It all helps! About a year ago I started jogging a little bit. Now, don't get me wrong, I hated running. Talk about monotonous. Anyway, my friends and I joined the LA Marathon to raise funs for Love Without Boundaries to help orphans in China. Talk about finding the right combination to get you physically fit. Training for the marathon was a combo of social exercising, raising intensity, and doing something for a worthwhile cause. All my years of exercising was coming together. It helped to all be doing a specific training schedule to get us ready to walk 26.1 miles. We walked together at least once a week. We raised funds. We belonged to a team, we had a purpose, and also because we paid an entry fee for the marathon, we never thought about quitting! After one year I can proudly say that I have walked a 5K, a 1/2 and a full marathon AND I just completed a 1/2 marathon but this time I ran/walked it in 2 hours and 43 minutes!!! I never thought I'd ever be saying that I ran anything, let alone a 1/2 marathon! Walking just led me to jog a little here and there. Eventually I started doing the Jeff Galloway Run/Walk Method and it WORKS! It didn't even cost me anything!!! I'm a 50 year old mother of 3 and this method of training has provided just what I need to complete a 1/2 marathon injury free. So with all that said, I'm here to encourage you to try something new, mix it up, join a walking/jogging group, sign up for a 5K, 1/2 or full marathon, raise money for a needy cause, do something you thought you never would. It's all good. We're all in this life together, why spend useless energy putting other's methods down. Just get out there and get your heart pumping and enjoy it with others! - 11/9/2011   8:52:37 AM
    Its so wonderful to hear someone actually come out and say this!!! - 11/9/2011   1:14:11 AM
  • 104
    Such a sensible article, Nicole!!! As a 76 year old I must say I have been surprised at how much I have benefited from walking, riding the recumbent bike and doing water aerobics. For the past two months some health problems have kept any exercise at a minimum for me and I could not believe how snug my clothes got in a short period of time. Sure hope I can resume that walking soon!!! - 11/8/2011   8:39:42 PM
  • 103
    Nicole, you are such an inspiration. I love your commonsense approach to living! - 11/8/2011   6:45:17 PM
  • 102
    I'm so glad you wrote this. When I started to add regular exercise to my life, all I thought pain and breathlessness - but I learned to realize it's not at all that way and find it an enjoyable part of my day. I try to convince other couch potatoes to join me, but they see these extreme workouts and flatly refuse. I agree it's important to point out how unhealthy this trend is. - 11/8/2011   9:21:32 AM
  • 101
    really good article. the people who say you have to push it also have a point, but as in all things, balance is the key. if i work out so hard that it hurts, makes me puke or makes me dread it, i'm not going to stick with it. everyone has different levels of carrot and stick that jives with their own personality, and mine requires me to be nice to myself. if i just can't bear to do an 8 mile run, i'll do 5. and if i'm having a particularly hard day, i coax myself out the door with a mile walk. often that feels so good that i end up doing more, but i always give myself that out. i'm still overweight, but i just ran my first half marathon and am eyeing a full one. my main concern isn't how hard i go or how much it burns, but that i keep running for the rest of my life. that requires keeping my workouts wimpy enough that i don't injure myself, and that it stays fun. i may never be skinny and i'll certainly never be fast, but i'm doing something every day- even if that *something* is hula hooping in the sunshine! - 11/8/2011   9:14:55 AM
  • 100
    BLONDIEGRRL, I'm sorry, but you're sinking really low. A lot of people on here are working hard, when so many Americans take the easy way out and do nothing at all. Also, not everyone on here who is arguing in favor of Nicole's article are "light weights". I've been through P90X, Insanity, and Asylum-two of which while PREGNANT. I've run marathons and half marathons...one of which also while pregnant. So I'm hardly a fru-fru exerciser. . I just know that my health and my joints can't take that level of intensity 6x/week indefinitely. That's why HIIT should be reserved for once a week or once every 2 weeks even. The key to keep your body from plateauing is to change up your workout constantly. - 11/7/2011   2:51:03 PM

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