Glynis Gym Exercise Collage

How I reduced my exercise regime and remained fit

Glynis BarberFitness & Exercise 1 Comment

Exercise has never been a chore for me. It’s how I start my day and I look forward to it, which I know some people will find hard to believe.

Just a few short years ago I had quite a weekly routine. I would do two yoga classes, at least one long hike and between four to six gym sessions a week. These sessions would alternate between cardio and weights, each session an hour or more long.

But then came the pandemic. I was literally the last person left in my gym before we locked down. I vividly remember my last work out because I looked around and there was no-one else there. Just me and all the machines. I thought to myself, “what if they close the gyms, what will I do?”.

The next day we were in lockdown and life changed completely

My exercise regime has never been the same since and even now, more than two years after the pandemic, I hardly ever go to the gym. And I feel great and just as fit as before.

How is this possible I hear you ask?

To begin with there was no choice. We were in lockdown and that was that. I did what many people did and discovered all the many workout videos available on YouTube. I invested in some weights and began by trying to keep up with my previous regime. Yoga classes were by Zoom and walks in the park were still possible.

But inevitably things began to shift. I found I was using slightly lighter weights as the YouTube workouts tended to have more repetitions and therefore a lighter weight was needed. And I found most of the sessions I was doing were just thirty minutes long, half the length I was used to. This suited me because the pandemic turned out to be a very busy time for me. While most actors were stuck at home and completely unable to work, I found myself doing a lot of voice overs, mostly narrating documentaries. I was able to do this from home and did forty documentaries in the first lockdown period alone. I also expanded my Ageless by Glynis Barber website

I had founded the website about ten years previously to share my health, beauty and pro-ageing tips, after being asked constantly about what my secret was on social media. I now decided to create an Ageless YouTube channel as well and to put Ageless on Instagram

At the tail end of the pandemic, I got cast in Hollyoaks and so began a weekly commute to Liverpool. I was filming five days a week most weeks with very early starts and a late finish. Working out became almost impossible. And so, my already somewhat reduced routine, became almost non-existent.

I would work out on the weekends and if ever I had a morning off during the week, I would try and squeeze one in. But I was also tired. What with commuting, filming, writing Ageless articles, making YouTube videos as well as doing my voice overs, I was run ragged. I felt like I had three fulltime jobs, and something had to give.

Pushing my self too far

I’ve always been a person who pushes herself, who tries to do everything thrown at her, but it was all too much. I felt a real shift in my thinking at this point.

I decided I was going to cut myself some slack

For the first time in my adult life, I was going to give myself permission not to work out and not to feel bad about it. I would do it whenever I could and when I felt up to it. I got into the routine of getting up ten minutes earlier on filming days and would do a ten minute yoga routine. This gave my body a wonderful stretch and it was amazing how this short routine set me up for the day.

Listening to my body

There were also days off when I just felt so exhausted from my gruelling schedule, that I felt a workout was not the right thing for me. Instead, I would take my dog for a walk. This felt good and I started really listening to my body and what it needed.

My workouts now depend on the time I have available and how I feel. I’ve found the YouTube videos at home so wonderfully convenient and wonder where I used to find all that time to drive to the gym and do those long workouts. I now go to the gym occasionally but have been too busy for it to become a regular thing. Now that I’ve finished with my filming, I will make more of an effort and will probably go at least once a week. But I’ve found that the thirty minute sessions at home really suit me. I no longer feel the need for longer sessions.

The proof

Research is showing that I may be onto something here. Make no mistake, we need exercise, but the latest research is showing that we don’t need to do long or very intense sessions. In fact, the research shows that many people, in their quest for health, are, in fact, overdoing it.

Dr. James O’Keefe, a cardiologist with the Mid-America Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, published a meta-analysis with three co-authors on the subject. Dr O’Keefe says that the first twenty minutes of exercise give you the most benefit.

His systematic review showed that if you move from a sedentary lifestyle to gently starting to exercise, you will have a decrease in many chronic diseases as well as mortality. In other words, the benefits of exercising are immense. But he also found that people at the other end of the spectrum, doing a high volume of vigorous exercise, start to lose those benefits.

He goes on to say, however, that you can’t overdo moderate exercise, loosely defined as still being able to have a conversation while working out. He classes many regular everyday activities as moderate exercise eg. gardening, walking, swimming or housework. There are more health benefits to these moderate activities than vigorous exercise.

Exercise for over 45’s

He stresses that over the age of 45, exercise should be fun and more about stress reduction and less about competitiveness. And whilst strength training is very important for improving muscle mass, which declines as we age, we only need 20-40 minutes of it, twice, and no more than three times, a week. He calls this the sweet spot for longevity.

The take away from all of this is, too much exercise can backfire, being sedentary is bad and gentle or moderate exercise is good for us.

My reduced regime

This explains why my reduced regime and thirty minute sessions, are working well for me. It also explains why, over the last couple of years when I’ve been so busy, walking was often more beneficial for me than a workout. In fact, Dr O’Keefe talks about the many benefits of spending time in nature, something I’ve often talked about on Ageless. Being surrounded by greenery can reduce blood pressure and improves our mood. It helps alleviate anxiety, boosts our immune system and can even help improve sleep.

Walking in a park, or even a tree lined street, really is a wonderful exercise in every way. And walking is one of the best exercises there is.

This new gentle way of exercising feels right for me at this moment in time. I look back on my old routine with awe. It was impressive for sure, but that was then, and this is now. The important thing is that I’m still very active, I exercise in some way whenever I can, but I’ve taken the pressure off myself and feel good for it.

This article was first published on the 1st of July 2024 in Hello 

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Comments 1

  1. Really interesting Glynis (& inspiring as ever!); could you recommend some YouTube videos to follow as there are so many I get overwhelmed when searching…….? Many thanks!

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