Originally I wrote this specifically for the ALIVE Across America members, but I decided to post it to my blog, as the strategy . . . the integration of active recovery into an exercise lifestyle, applies to anyone. “Active recovery” refers to the other end of the stress scale, the vital recuperative activities that allow stress to make you stronger . . . better. Many exercise attempts fail to bear fruit because of the absence of an understanding of this vital balance.
Talk to any adult human being living in 2014 between the ages of 22 and 72 and ask a simple question, “how’s your stress level.” Then . . . back up. It’ll come pouring out in your direction and might not stop for awhile.
Boyfriend problem? Stress. Girlfriend issue? Stress. Kids in high school? Stress. Kids in college? Stress. Health concerns? Stress. Rising costs, unexpected expenditures, compromises in income, shifts in family, shifts in home situation, shifts in relationships? Stress, stress, stress, stress, stress.
When I speak of ALIVErs, I’m referring to the group of newly educated and transformed individual who have experienced the transformational power of the ALIVE protocol. ALIVErs are not typical adults. Throughout the 10 weeks of the program they come to understand stress as an important part of what we’re all made to handle, and to benefit from. The trick lies in “handling it” by keeping in balanced with the body’s innate and acquired ability to recuperate. With your physical body, in going through ALIVE, you’ve taken on stress, used it for developing some new toughness, and allowed the innate adaptation process to work in your favor by understanding and managing the balance between what we call “Stress Load” and “Recovery.”
Stress Load is inclusive of emotional stress, toxic stress, exhaustive stress (lack of sleep), and physical stress. In that we realize that if stressors are high, exercise stress must be well managed. “Too much exercise” (specifically defined for each individual circumstance) can push an individual beyond the limits of stress tolerance. As we gradually add intensity, volume, or enhanced challenge to our routines, we must also appreciate the importance of the Recovery side of the scale.
The ALIVE Across America program is designed so you slowly progress from a 9-minute low-stress routine to a fully efficient challenge that increases significantly over the course of 10 weeks. As physical stress is increased, we want to ensure the body gets better at utilizing oxygen, at maximizing oxidative muscle fiber, and of recruiting the parasympathetic recovery system to follow physical exertion with relaxed metabolic optimization. Big words. What they amount to is . . . as we increase exercise, we also increase recovery.
The 10-week program strategically teaches you to manage energy output with downtime and healing. After you complete the program once, you have developed an intuitive understanding of increasing challenge, and there’s a tendency to jump into the next go-around more aggressively, with a greater focus on “more.” Here’s where it might be in your best interest to consider another element of recovery.
Laughter is a powerful state that contributes to the body’s recuperative ability. It drives the formation and circulation of endorphins, neurotransmitters, and endocrine compounds that lead to relaxation of smooth muscle tissue, reduction in adrenal activity, and enhanced cellular repair. Love is an emotion that likewise produces neurotransmitters that tend to make the body better (at least in the early stages of a new relationship). Incorporating new laughter and love can create almost magical healing.
As you have increased the intensity of your training, you have to find new ways to aid in recovery, and that’s why the Four Days You Love concept should work wonders for you.
FOUR DAYS YOU LOVE
This is a strategy I use with roundtables I conduct for executives in the fitness field. They’re all stressed by employee issues, revenues, costs, and the constant never-ending chaos that emerges when you open the doors of a health club and allow living minds and bodies to enter. Add in an attempt to balance work and family life and “Stress Load” hits maximum levels. For them, the idea of “Days You Love” is not an option, but a must.
The concept is, block out four days on the calendar, ideally one per week, during which nothing enters other than joy. If you have to go to the dentist, the Day You Love is off limits. If you have a stressful meeting to schedule, it can’t happen on a Day You Love.
Some choose to schedule beach days, others choose to do the things they most love about their jobs.
If you love to dance, dance, if you love to sing, sing. Finger paint. Roller blade. Roll down a grassy hill and relive your childhood. A Day You Love isn’t necessarily a vacation day (as even those, at times, can be stressful) but rather a stress-less recuperative day during which you enjoy every moment.
Some opt to set aside time with their families, others opt to set up “time with the guys” or “girls day out.” It can be a Spa Day, an outing to a sporting event, a backyard barbecue, or for adventurers, a day of kayaking through the Everglades. It shouldn’t include scheduled exercise, but if you love running, it can include a morning run or a scenic jog on some terrain that you enjoy.
If you love tennis, softball, or flag football, these become ideal activities for Days You Love. It’s personal to you. Nobody else can effectively schedule a Day You Love. You have to. It’s a great exercise in balance, and in recovery.
So . . . for those of you who are going through the program again . . . and consciously challenging yourself at increasing levels, consider implementing this strategy . . . scheduling Four Days You Love, one per week over the next four weeks, and if you’re comfortable with it, reporting both as to your plans and your outcome. Because ALIVE is designed to integrate into your lifestyle, this counts as a part of your “program.”
Do it. Love it. It all serves to make you . . . . Better!
Note: Find details on ALIVE Across America at http://yourhealthbeginsnow.com