People always ask, what is the best exercise?  I tell them the same thing over and over, “whatever activity you like to do and you can engage in consistently for 20 minutes or more.”  That is the rule of thumb.  Whether you like walking, swimming, jogging, lifting weights, biking, playing tennis – it really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you LIKE doing it and that by itself will overcome the genetic program that exists in your brain that keeps you from exercising.

You see if you have had problems exercising in the past, you may have called yourself lazy and have begun to think of yourself as a lazy, unmotivated person.  That’s understandable.   After all, virtually every medical and scientific authority agrees that exercise plays a major role in achieving optimal health.  You hear the importance of exercise constantly on TV, in books, magazine articles and on websites.  It’s understandable to ask yourself; If exercise is so good for me in so many different ways, why don’t I exercise like mad?  And sure, the easy answer that most people end up with is to believe they must be just plain lazy.  

Not true.  Failure to exercise is not “lazy.”  The truth is that people do not like to exercise because it is actually contrary to the “mental software” than your brain runs every day in real life.   The fact is, in humans, exercise has actually been evolutionarily selected against and that is why it’s hard for you to get started.

Think about it.  All of our human behavior today actually stems from the physiology and biochemistry that we inherited from our cave dwelling ancestors.  Times change fast but our mental software does not.  In long past days, obtaining enough food to live was very difficult.  Life for our ancestors was actually pretty mundane.  They hunted, ate and conserved fuel so they could live another day.  The hunting process gave them the exercise they needed to remain healthy during the thirty-some years that they lived.  Expending extra energy would have been counterproductive both from a conservation of energy standpoint and an interaction with a hostile environment standpoint. 

In other words, it has been selected against evolutionarily.  

Today, things are different in the modern world, of course.  We have comfortable, plush gyms and wonderful running shoes.  We have extra time and our hunting is done in the meat case of the local grocery.  We over-eat food fuels and have more than enough energy stores to complete a daily exercise program.  But nonetheless, these are very recent changes in the entire history of mankind and the gene software running our physiology is still sending “don’t exercise” signals out to the body.  When you understand this, then you have a chance to overcome it.   Forget about the idea that a desire to exercise should come naturally to you.  It does not.  

The best chance you have to overcome mankind’s programming is to begin with activities that are very pleasurable.  If you are enjoying yourself and feeling pleasure, you can begin to condition your body and mind to a better lifestyle way of thinking for the 21st century.

I hope I have convinced you that you are not lazy and you simply need to find something you enjoy.  What you enjoy is influenced by both your psychology and your physiology.  Psychology influences the exercise decisions we make based on performance gratification.  We tend to do activities that we have some natural talent or skill at performing.  The physiology determinants are based on physical characteristics and predetermined genetic coding.  Again, we know if we excel at something it brings us personal fulfillment and a sense of satisfaction and if we do not excel we tend to shy away from that activity.  For example, if you try running/jogging with a group and you have short legs and others have long legs, you will find yourself sprinting to keep up and chances are you will not feel successful with this activity.

 Therefore, in order to pick the exercise that you physically can master and psychologically enjoy you need to know a little about body types.

William Sheldon was a psychologist who spent most of his life observing the human body. Specifically, he studied body typing to understand human movement, performance and health and fitness outcomes.  Sheldon observed that there were three body types; mesomorphs, ectomorphs and endomorphs.  We do not want to put you into a box or a single body type so keep in mind you could be solely one type or a combination of the other two.  Let’s review each and let you make the decision about yourself.

The mesomorph body type is more muscular with broad shoulders, athletic, defined muscles, and strong skeletal stature.  This body type speaks energy and vitality.  When you think of a mesomorph you think about gym trained athletes, swimmers or fitness models.   This body type usually loses weight quickly and gains weight just as quickly.  They tend to manage their percent of body fat with a couple cardio workouts per week and find it easy to maintain their muscle, which gives them a high percent of lean muscle mass and a higher resting metabolic rate.  This means they can burn more calories at rest than the normal population.  From a personality point of view, they tend to be very social and competitive.  They normally gravitate toward weight lifting, sport teams and group exercise.  This group can slack off because they know they can lose the extra weight fairly quickly.  However, as they age, metabolism slows which makes the task of optimal weight and percent of fat a greater challenge to overcome.  

The ectomorph body type tends to have a higher overall metabolism than the other body types.  We think of this body type when we think about long distance runners like marathoners and cyclists.  We also see female ectomorphs gracing the covers of fashion magazines with their tall, skinny model physiques.  This body type will probably never be fat.  They tend to have a hard time gaining weight and a hard time putting on muscle mass.  This group was probably teased as children for being too skinny and as adults we tend to envy this body type since it appears they can eat anything they want and not gain weight.

 Ectomorphs have high energy and metabolic rate that excel in endurance activities like 10ks, triathlons and marathons.  They tend to compete against themselves in individual activities like cycling, swimming and running.  From a fitness standpoint, it’s not all “peaches and cream” for this body type.  They must work very hard at building muscle and tend to avoid the weight room for that reason.  

The endomorphs are the third category.  Endomorphs often appear to be round and soft.  The softness tends to accumulate in the middle of the torso.  They tend to gain weight just by looking at food!  Some researchers believe this body type has more fat cells and thus carry more weight.  The arms and legs tend to be short and the upper arms and upper legs more developed than the lower parts.  This group would struggle with racquet sports that require long arms and legs.  Therefore, they tend to avoid activities in which they might compete with someone who has an advantage in this area.  Rather they tend to gravitate to low impact exercise routines like walking, circuit training or aerobic dancing.  The skin is soft and smooth and the hair is usually fine.  Some famous endomorphs are John Goodman, Roseanne, Oprah and Jack Black.  Endomorphs usually find weight loss a constant struggle since they store body fat easily and tend to have more internal fat around the organs making the fat loss more challenging.  This body type must exercise regularly and be very strict with their diet.  The exercise that this group finds to be helpful and that they can do is low intensity and high duration.  It is critical that this group train in their target heart rate zone for at least 20 minutes nearly every day in the week.  

Think about your body type and begin to come up with activities that seem fun for you.  When you do that, you can get busy with the j20 Workouts.  Remember, you OWE yourself a minimum of 20 minutes of your favorite activity every day – that’s your j20 Workout.

Published by Sadie