When we look at most aspects of life, they follow waves or cycles. This should also be the case when it comes to exercise. Unfortunately many people seem to think that they need to continually push their limits to improve. This couldn’t be further from the truth and usually ends up in injury.
Effective exercise is performed in cycles with changes to some important variables. The first most important variables that require constant change are the exercises themselves. Our body adapts to the stresses that are placed on it regularly. While this is a good thing initially, we need to change this stress every 6- 12 weeks to challenge our bodies and to avoid over training and injury. The exception to this rule is walking, however changes to your walking route and the speed at which you are walking are necessary to gain the most benefit.
Another important variable that is often overlooked is the load or intensity of the exercise. It is dangerous to attempt a personal best EVERY time you exercise. In fact it is important to follow up “very hard days” with gentler days to enable your body to fully recover and adapt. While it is enjoyable to see improvements and increases in what we can do, after a period of building up the intensity and load (usually 5-8 weeks for most people) it is wise to have a “rest week” where you purposely drop the intensity of your exercise for a whole week to actively let your body recover. This leaves you feeling refreshed and ready for new challenges.